Summary: What a friend we have in Jesus, a friend who is competent and capable when the challenges of life seem more than we can bear.

Weakening the Adversary’s Hold Through Prayer

(Mark 9:14-29)

1. A Barna poll in 2009 of people who professed to be some sort of Christian — not necessarily evangelical — states the following: “Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.”

2. Other people will tell us that the Bible attributes to the devil conditions that we now know are biological or psychological. The truth is that people in the Middle Ages were very prone to do this, and it also was somewhat common to do so in the first century. But the Bible does not do this.

3. For example, the Bible makes a distinction between epilepsy and demonism, despite the accepted misinformation that it does not. Matthew 4:24 reads, “ So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.”

4. These people were not merely cured, but their condition was accompanied by demonic phenomenon, as in today’s text.

5. One sign of demonism is a bent toward destruction (Abaddon and Apollyon). This boy did not merely have seizures, but the demon tried to throw him into fire or water to destroy him.

6. Paul later instructs us to resist Satan with the armor of God and by praying at all times in the Spirit. Prayer is a mighty weapon, and it is especially potent in the realm of Spiritual Warfare.

Sins in our lives can become so entrenched that we give the devil a stronghold, and overcoming those sins requires aggressive prayer against Satan’s influence in our lives. This should not be confused with demon possession, which is what today’s text is about, but aggressive prayer is needed in both instances, as we shall see.

Jesus had given his disciples authority to cast out demons in Mark 3:15, and they had done so successfully (6:13). But not this time.

Main Idea: What a friend we have in Jesus, a friend who is competent and capable when the challenges of life seem more than we can bear.

I. Jesus’ EXORCISES a Tough-case Demon (14-29)

A. Jesus Walks Into a MESSY Situation (14-19)

• Did you hear about the snail who was run over by a turtle? He was asked what happened and he said, "I don't know, it all happened so fast".

• Sometimes messy situations surface suddenly, like when Moses came down from the mountain and found the people worshipping the golden calf.

1. The nine disciples were in an ARGUMENT with scribes before a crowd (14)

2. The crowd was EAGER for Jesus (15)

• Why “greatly amazed?”

3. Jesus investigates the CHAOS (16-18)

4. Jesus expresses his AGGRAVATION (19)

• Jesus complains publicly about the unbelief around him; there can be a legitimacy to expressing frustration properly as a way to relieve anger

B. Jesus HEALS the boy (20-27)

1. COULD Jesus help?

2. Faith and DOUBT: a constant tension

This man yells, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” His yell of struggling faith stands in contrast to the heated argument that had been going on between Jesus disciples and the scribes. This is the right kind of yelling.

3. Jesus seems to make things WORSE first

4. The boy is HEALED and safe in the long term

C. The disciples were perplexed at their INABILITY (28-29)

1. This one took the MASTER, but disciples usually carried on in absence

2. Not all demons are EQUAL

3. Jesus implies that prayer ramps up FAITH and weakens Satan’s hold

What a friend we have in Jesus, a friend who is competent and capable when the challenges of life seem more than we can bear.

II. We Need Jesus More than We THINK We Do

A. The quest for CONTROL and our lack thereof

• The 12, like children who think they are adults and become overwhelmed, needed Jesus

• Life has a way of humbling us and forcing our inadequacies to surface and show themselves; we try to buy them, but they keep rising back up

• Struggle for us all, unknown challenges around corner; never mastered

B. Our spiritual INCOMEPTENCE

• Some of us are elders or have a special calling as pastors, missionaries, etc.

• We work hard at understanding, have picked up some spiritual wisdom, but we, too, are forced to grope in many instances; we have only some answers!

C. The attacks of Satan that go UNRECOGNIZED

• When people dabble in the occult and acquire demonic problems, it’s obvious

• It was obvious that this boy was demonized

• But Satan’s attacks are often more sophisticated; they have this in common — they are contrary to at least one aspect of God’s will, and they are ultimately destructive…families, churches, solid doctrine, love…

• Satan used Peter to tempt Jesus to avoid the cross through flattery…

• Satan motivated King David to take a census in contrast to God’s will

• Because our biggest enemy is our own sinful nature, he is often cloaked…

D. Our belief DESPITE unbelief

E. The need to FORTIFY our faith

We rightly make a distinction between saved and lost, spiritually mature and spiritually immature. But our faith is constantly attacked, tried, weakened. Like our bodies, our faith needs exercise, a healthy diet, and proper attention.

F. A GRITTY Savior who wants to be Lord of even messy situations

Jesus is there when our training cannot carry us, when we don’t have answers, when we have prepared, studied, prayed, and walked with God, but life still overwhelms us or the enemy seems to prevail.

What a friend we have in Jesus, a friend who is competent and capable when the challenges of life seem more than we can bear.