A man often walked through a cemetery on his way home. One night, though, unaware that a new grave had been dug in his path, he tumbled in. For some time he struggled to get out of the 7 foot deep grave, but finally gave up and settled down for the night.
An hour later, a farmer out possum hunting came walking through the cemetery and he too fell into the grave. He began a desperate attempt to get out, unaware that there was anyone else in the grave.
The first man listened to him for a few minutes, then reached over in the pitch darkness and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You can’t get out of here," he said...
but he did.
Throughout the New Testament, we’re told of times when Jesus or Apostles cast demons out of people. But nowhere in the Bible is the description of demon possession more graphic and horrifying than here in Mark 5.
This guy is scary…
He lives in a graveyard.
He’s unshaven, ragged.
And he’s scarred from chains and shackles that have been unable to bind him.
We’re not sure what he’s wearing - but if he’s wearing clothes at all - it isn’t much.
His face has a dark haunted look to it. And his body bears the marks of cuts he’s made on it with sharp stones. He may even be bleeding as he runs down the path to Jesus.
Every night and every day, he prowls the hills around the graveyard howling and screeching in a crazed torment of a man whose personal demons will not let him rest.
And had you the courage to get close enough to talk with him, you’d have heard him shout at you and perhaps heard the demonic echoes of several different voices in unison. For the demons within him were legion.
Not only would you not want to meet him in a dark cemetery, you wouldn’t want to meet him on a crowded street in broad day light.
He’s a dangerous and frightening man.
I. Now the Bible doesn’t tell us - but I got to thinking: just how did this man come to be demon possessed?
I could only find one story in the Bible that dealt with HOW someone came to be demon possessed.
He was the first king of Israel. A man named Saul.
I Samuel 16:14 tells us: "Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him."
What could have happened in a man’s life that would open him up to demon possession?
In Saul’s case it was his open rebellion against God.
In I Samuel 15:23 the prophet Samuel condemned Saul with these words: "rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."
Saul’s sin was that he deliberately rejected of God’s authority in his life. He sought to be free from God’s restrictions and responsibilities. And his rebellion manifested itself in a kind of arrogance that God refused to allow.
ILLUS: Not so long ago, I caught couple of boys in my neighborhood doing things they shouldn’t have been doing. Standing on my porch I challenged the boys (who were around 8 to 12 years old) and expected that - having been caught - they’d slink away in shame or disgrace. After all, I was an adult and they had obviously been caught doing something they shouldn’t have.
Did they slink away in disgrace?
No... They turned on me and mocked me - taunting me like I was school child that they could bully into submission.
They had an arrogance towards my authority that was greatly disturbing and angering. In fact, if they’d been my kids, and I’d have gotten hold of them, they wouldn’t have been able to sit down for a week.
I suspect, that’s how God felt about Saul’s attitude of rebellion. I believe Saul’s rebellion held in it a tinge of disrespect for God’s authority.
Bible implies that this demon possession that came upon Saul came because his rebellion was "like the sin of divination, and (his) arrogance like the evil of idolatry."
II. Now, before we move on, I want you to notice something else about demon possession.
Samuel told Saul that his "rebellion is like the sin of divination."
Acts 16 tells of a young woman who was demon possessed.
And what do you suppose she did for a living? She practiced divination. She was a woman who made her living in fortune telling, palm reading, or interpreting tarot cards and tea leaves. Or perhaps she would have consulted Ouija boards or horoscopes. If she lived in our day, she would have had a 1-900 #.
This woman practiced divination.
In scripture, there seems to be a close tie between divination and demonic activity. The Bible doesn’t go into detail as to what that connection is, but it is so significant that God warns:
Deut. 18:9-13 "When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.
Let no one be found among you who… who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.
You must be blameless before the LORD your God."
God goes even further and says:
Le 20:6 "I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people."
III. Now, whether it was because this man in Mark 5 had been arrogantly rebellious or because he had practiced consulting the spirit world to divine his future… or because of some other reason - this man in the graveyard had become demon possessed.
He didn’t just wake up one morning and say: "Hey, I’m demon possessed." This wasn’t something he was born with. OR something that he just came down with (like the flu or a cold).
Somewhere in this man’s life, he had made a conscious decision that he wanted to be free.
He wanted to be free of God’s influence.
He wanted to be free from restrictions and responsibilities of life.
He wanted to be free to do what he wanted to do.
And now, as a demoniac, he’s become free…
No shackle can bind him, no chain can hold him.
He’s no longer bound by social conventions that tell him how to dress and or how to behave.
He has no responsibilities to society - because society no longer wants him.
He has become totally free…
In Romans 6:20-23 Paul writes: "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
IV. The demoniac - he’s free… but he’s miserable.
Notice (vs 6) he sees Jesus at a distance and he runs to Jesus. I don’t know how he knows that Jesus can heal his life - but he knows.
AND HE RUNS TO Jesus.
He’s tired of living like he has - in his so called freedom - and so he runs to Jesus.
ILLUS: Back when I was in Bible College, one of my roommates was a gentle guy who had been on drugs years before. When I met him I noticed that he had a child-like wonderment and fascination that made him easy to like, and fun to be around.
His hair was wild and when something really surprised him, he gave a druggy’s wild look and said "Wow!"
Back in High School, before he’d gotten on drugs, he’d been an A student, but now in college he struggled to maintain a B average.
He told me once of his conversion. Apparently, one night, he’d been in a drug crazed stupor. He couldn’t recall much else about that night except that during that nightmarish experience he couldn’t even remember his own name. And it suddenly occurred to him how messed up his life had become, how much this personal demon of drug possession had taken over his life. And he cried out in his misery: "Dear God… if You’ll heal of this, I’ll serve you the rest of my life."
The next day, he found a church, gave his life to Christ and hadn’t been on drugs from that day on. He quite literally ran to Jesus for healing.
ILLUS: Doctors of old times tested the sanity of a mental patients with the following test:
The patient was placed in a room with a sink. The faucet was turned on and a stopper was put in the drain until the sink overflowed. The patient was then handed a mop and the door was closed.
If the patient had enough sense to shut off the water, pull the plug, and then mop up the water, he was considered capable of going home. But on the other hand, if the patient mopped like crazy and never bothered to shut off the water and/or pull the plug, he was considered still insane and needed to be detained a little longer in the mental institution.
There are people in this world that are mopping like crazy… and they’re not in mental institutions. They’re people who we’d consider quite sane (pause). BUT they are plagued by their own personal demons, and they haven’t figured out how to stop the flooding in their lives.
They know there’s a problem they just haven’t figured out where to go to solve it. They’re like people who came and found the demoniac clothed & in his right mind. They see what Jesus can do in a person’s life - but then they send Him away.
V. Now, I suspect there’s someone here today that needs to be healed.
You might not be demon possessed like that man in graveyard, but you’ve struggled with your own personal demons for too long.
You’ve struggled with the demons of failure…
of shame and remorse.
You’ve sensed that these demons have dominated you, held you under their control, held you in an addiction you can’t let loose of. And you may have always thought: "I got myself into this. I can get myself out."
But all you’ve ended up with is an uneasy feeling.
The demons are still there.
And you’re still not healed.
Despite what the world may tell you - you can’t solve all your problems on your own. There are demons in your life that only Jesus can heal.
Down through history, men and women have recognized that. That’s why the hymn writer composed these words:
"What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought - since Jesus came into my heart
I have light in my soul for which long I have sought - since Jesus came into my heart
Since Jesus came into my heart (repeat)
Floods of joy o’er my soul, like the sea billows roll, since Jesus came into my heart
I have ceased from my wandering and going astray, since Jesus came into my heart
And my sins - which were many - are all washed away, since Jesus came into my heart"
When Jesus healed the demonic, the change was startling: He was now seated, clothed and in his right mind. This man - that just moments before - had been a raving lunatic was at peace.
The world can’t give you that. There’s no medicine, no treatment, no man made advice that can reach into the heart of a man and toss out the demons that he struggles with.
My question for you this morning - have you come to that point in your life where you know that ONLY Jesus can give you the peace that you desire?
SERMONS IN THIS SERIES
Are you a Son of Thunder? - Luke 9:51-9:56
Extreme Faith - Mark 2:1-2:12
Dealing With Personal Demons - Mark 5:1-5:20
The Wee Little Man - Luke 19:1-19:10
Jesus & The Party Crasher - Luke 7:36-7:50