Summary: Today, our culture seems fascinated with death and vampires and witches and ghosts and horoscopes and clairvoyants and numerous other dark pathways to evil. It is disturbing because people feel they can control it. These kinds of choices have consequences
Part 14 - Matthew 8:23-34 - AN UNHEALTHY FASCINATION WITH EVIL
He writhed on the floor while men and women gathered around him hurling their prayers. That’s the best way I can describe it. "Come out in Jesus name!" they said, and he writhed all the more as if in pain, and certainly in turmoil. The voices rose, "Come out you unclean spirit!"
I had been attending a Vineyard Conference years ago in Canberra, NSW. John Wimber had been speaking about Power Evangelism. This was one of the ministry times. We must have been sitting up towards the front when I noticed the man writhing on the ground. I hadn’t noticed him fall from his seat. The crowd launching their prayers towards him were determined to cast a demon from him.
That’s the situation I stared at as a man walked through the crowd and did something I have always remembered. He told the crowd to stand back and knelt down beside the man. He spoke softly and asked the man his name several times. He told the man that Jesus loved him and then, as I remember it, he asked the man did he want to be free. Did He want Jesus to set him free? The man said "Yes" obviously because he was taken to a smaller and more private room to pray. By that time the writhing had stopped. He was treated with respect and dignity.
What I learned that day was that casting demons out of people who don’t want to be free would be a worthless enterprise. Someone who has intentionally been involved with what we can only call evil may not be willing to give up the power they think they have acquired.
But there are others who long to be free and as they come to Jesus, and they are prayed for, demons cannot stay. It really depends on the choices they make towards Jesus, or away from Him. As they come and ask for Jesus to heal, evil flees and the Holy Spirit comes and gently fills the troubled places where demons have once had control and like a healing oil these people know that they are loved.
Matthew 8:28 (NLT) records the event like this - "When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met Him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area."
These men lived in the cemetery. They were obviously social outcasts. Mark calls the demons who influenced them "UNCLEAN SPIRITS". They were considered unclean and lived in a place considered to be unclean. UNCLEAN SPIRITS CHOOSE UNCLEAN PLACES TO DWELL!
EVIL ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE ALLIED WITH DEATH. Have you noticed that?
Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT) says about Jesus that "...only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying."
Jesus would one day spend 3 days in a cemetery but the difference is, He didn’t have a unhealthy fascination with death and evil. He died to defeat the power and fear of death.
Maybe they chose the tombs because they were trying to contact the dead. People involved in séances expose themselves to demonic influence by trying to conjure up the dead. This may have been the doorway for demons to influence these men. I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that living in a cemetery was not normal behaviour.
Today, our culture seems fascinated with death and vampires and witches and ghosts and horoscopes and clairvoyants and numerous other dark pathways to evil. It is disturbing because people feel they can control it. These kinds of choices have consequences and this passage goes on to speak about how you can find freedom in Christ. Must look at this further.
Ephesians 2:1-2 (NLT) says, "Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil-the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)"