Summary: We have been given authority over Satan, but we have to choose to use it.
A Warrior Messiah
Text: Matthew 8:28-34
1. Illustration: In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes: There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully. Too many people feel it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him.
2. Unfortunately, this is also true when it come to spiritual warfare - we would rather give in to the devil than to fight him.
3. When it comes to spiritual warfare there are a few things we need to come to grips with:
a. We have a powerful enemy
b. We have an All-Powerful Messiah
c. Unfortunately, too many people reject his power
4. Read Matthew 8:28-34
Proposition: We have been given authority over Satan, but we have to choose to use it.
Transition: The first realization we need to come to grips with is...
I. We Have a Powerful Enemy (28)
A. Two Men Possessed By Demons
1. As you might recall, at the end of the text we examined last week, the disciples asked the question "Who is this man?" In today’s text, Matthew answers that question.
a. If you remember way back when we started this series, we said that one of Matthew’s prime objectives in writing this Gospel was prove that Jesus was both the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah.
b. In our text today he show that in a very vivid and powerful way.
2. The text begins with, "When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes..."
a. The group arrives "at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes."
b. Jesus is now in the predominantly Gentile region of the Decapolis, which explains why pigs are being raised, an animal unclean to Jews.
c. "Gadarenes" refers to both the village of Gadara, located about five miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee, as well as to the surrounding region, which probably included the little village of Gerasa, which lay on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 352).
3. Matthew continues the story saying, "two men who were possessed by demons met him."
a. Daimonizomai (demon-possessed) simply means to be demonized, to be under the control of a demonic spirit, without regard to the kind or degree of control (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15).
b. There are some that believe that this is just a story to illustrate a moral truth, but they are sadly mistaken.
c. The Bible is clear that there is a Satan, he demons, and they do take over and attach themselves to people’s spirits if they allow them to.
d. Just as there is a God, there is a Satan, and he is alive and active on planet Earth.
4. Matthew adds that, "They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area."
a. They moved, breathed, walked, and talked.
b. But they lived among the tombs. They were as good as dead, for they were totally dominated in body, mind, and spirit by demons.
c. Actually, the tombs in those days were natural or artificial caves cut in the solid rock of the hillsides. Thus they were available for shelter (Horton, Complete Biblical Library: Matthew, 159).
5. But the mention of tombs also casts an ominous pall of death and evil on the scene.
a. The danger is heightened by noting that these two men are "so violent that no one could pass that way."
b. Apparently they are well known among the populace and feared (Wilkins, 353).
c. It shows us that demons are real and they are powerful.
B. Don’t Underestimate or Overestimate
1. Illustration: Francis MacNutt quotes theologian Walter Wink in his book “Deliverance from Evil Spirits" and writes: "...if you want to bring all talk to a halt in shocked embarrassment, every eye riveted on you, try mentioning angels, or demons or the devil. You will quickly be appraised for signs of pathological violence and then quietly shunned. Angels, spirits, principalities, gods, Satan – these along with other supernatural realities, are the unmentionables of our culture" (McNutt, Francis, Deliverance from Evil Spirits).
2. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.