Summary: The scary truth is, there are only two spirits that controls a man – God’s Holy Spirit or Satan’s unclean spirit. Friend, which spirit is in control over you?
Intro: One quiet Sabbath day Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum to declare His Father’s will. Notice that where the Lord does a good work, there is also the devil seeking to resist it. In our text, Jesus comes face to face with a man with an unclean spirit. It is a day of grace and deliverance for this poor man. There are several curious things about this man. Notice—
1. HIS PERSON – A man with an unclean spirit (v.23). Here is a man indwelt and controlled by an unclean spirit. A man with an unclean spirit is of course an unclean man. It is quite possible then for a man to be entirely possessed by an evil spirit. There is a spirit that NOW works in the lives of unbelievers (Eph. 2:2). Satan – the god of this world continue to blind the minds of the unbelieving. If the spirit that works in the inner man is unclean, the whole man becomes corrupt!
2. HIS LOCATION – On the sabbath day (v.21)...in their synagogue (v.23) Here is an unholy man keeping the holy Sabbath day and reverencing the synagogue – a religious devil! A man’s outward acts do not always reveal his true moral and spiritual state. It is possible to have a FORM of godliness that is void of spiritual power (II Tim. 3:5). Notice, there are unclean spirits very active in the religious world (I Tim. 4:1).
3. HIS QUESTION – What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? (v.24a) These fake worshippers will have nothing to do with the Lord Jesus. This evil spirit cries out, "What have WE to do with thee?" Notice the man and the unclean spirit are as one. We are one with the spirit which possesses us, whether it be the Spirit of God or an evil spirit. "his servants ye are to whom ye obey" (Rom. 6:16).
4. HIS CONFESSION – I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God (v. 24b). Notice, why does he not say WE know thee? This devil now speaks for himself and exposes a knowledge far superior than that of the poor devil-possessed man. Observe his words, "…art thou come to destroy US? I know thee who thou art…" (v.24c cf. Mark. 5:7). Jesus came not to destroy, but to save (Luke 9:56). This confession is like that of many unclean spirits in modern religious people. It is a shallow mouth confession without true heartfelt faith (Jas. 2:19). Remember the Apostle Judas (John 6:70-71).
5. HIS SUPPLICATION – Let us alone (v.24a). These words express the intense desire of every unclean spirit. Every sin-lover wishes to be LET ALONE by the Lord Jesus. They love and enjoy spiritual and moral darkness rather than God’s pure light since their deeds are evil (John 3:19-20). Well, if Jesus should let the devil-possessed alone, what then? The man will surely abide under the damning power of Satan and sin, to be soon cast out with Satan and his angels into the Lake of Fire.
6. HIS OPPRESSION – When the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice… (v.26). Beware of the devil and the bondage he brings. First he cries, "Let us alone," then brings harm. He has power to defile and destroy both body and soul. Seeking independence from God is one of the most dangerous works of seducing spirits. Only Jesus can stop an unclean spirit from destroying the minds and bodies of many! When the devil is allowed to enter the lives of people, he will attempt to kill, steal and destroy their hopes and lives!
7. HIS LIBERATION – Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him (v.25). He suppressed him and cast him out. The unclean spirit needs to be rebuked, even when he talks religiously, saying, "Thou art the Holy One of God" (v.24d cf. Acts 16:16-18). It is easy for an unclean spirit to overcome an unholy man, but the presence and power of the Holy One is sufficient to silence and cast him out. If the power of sin is to be suppressed and overcome within a man, the Lord Jesus – the Holy One of God – must be allowed and trusted to exercise His mighty authority in the soul of man. For with great authority He commanded the unclean spirit, and he IMMEDIATELY obeys Him. “..the unclean spirit…cried with a loud voice, he came out of him” (v.26).
Conclusion: The scary truth is, there are only two spirits that controls a man – God’s Holy Spirit or Satan’s unclean spirit. Friend, which spirit is in control over you? If you have not trusted Christ as Saviour, you are an open house to the devil!