Summary: A sermon to assure us that Jesus is Lord over our teaching, over the natural world, and over the spirit world
You need to know your enemy.
• Smart coaches study the strengths and weaknesses of the teams they’re going to play.
• Smart military leaders study the strengths and weaknesses, even the personalities of their counterparts, for the enemies they’re going against.
• Politicians, if they want to win an election, pay close attention to the tactics of their opponents.
You and I can surely could stand to learn a lesson: after knowing our Lord, we also need to know our enemy.
• The book of Job starts with a scene in heaven, where we get to watch as the devil presents himself before God, and they have a conversation.
• Paul said, we’re not unaware of his schemes.
• Peter describes him for us, and tells us to be sober and vigilant.
There’s a reason that Bible has these things: we need to know about the enemy.
Out text this morning is another time God tells us about the enemy. We should be listening. Right in front of us is a story that gives us a window into a world we might be afraid to see.
Talking about demons may be a little like watching open heart surgery on the Discovery Channel. There’s 2 groups of people: there’s the people who’d rather be put under and have open heart surgery than to have to watch one, then there’s the people like me, who think watching that kind of stuff can be pretty neat.
I run into people who have a dangerous preoccupation with the enemy, and I also know people who are afraid to even look at him. Somewhere in between those extremes is what God intends for us to do with parts of the Bible like the one we have this morning.
The Demon world
On thing we must admit as we talk about the unclean spirit / demon world: there’s a lot we don’t know. So, I’m leery of people who presume to have it all mapped out.
Ill – I once had a little book by a guy who was really into this whole demon world scene. He told all these stories about battling it out with demons. In fact, he’d even drawn a couple little pictures of 2 demons he claimed to have encountered and seen. They kind of looked like polka-dotted hankies with little eyes drawn on them! I’m just not sold out to those who say they have it all figured out!
Ill – Any of you who work with office equipment like computers or copiers already have an opinion that demons are pretty active in our world!
Seriously, we have to admit there’s a lot we don’t know. Still, there are some observations we can make this morning, right here where you’re seated, from our text and from the rest of Scripture that may help us. Those kinds of observations I will make, because sharing my 1st-hand experience on this subject will fall way short. So, here are general observations:
1. Demons are real
-Jesus describes hell as “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Demons are real. They’re in league with the devil, and they share his fate: everlasting fire.
-The Bible, at least in the NT, has several descriptions of encounters with people who are what we call demon-possessed. It makes it clear that they weren’t just people who were sick or crazy. They gave some people superhuman strength. Other people were disabled by them.
Jesus believed that demons were real. When He confronts possessed people, He speaks to the demons, and they speak to Him. I don’t have to see or experience one to believe it. God’s word describes them, and that’s good enough for me. Demons are real.
2. Demons are bent on inhabiting and hurting people
In the NT we read of a person who was often thrown into fire or water by a demon. There’s a woman who was bent over crippled by a spirit for 18 years. There’s another man who lives among the tombs outside town, gashing himself with rocks and screaming all the time. And we read, that when they’re cast out, they’ll sometimes “take one last shot,” so that one boy convulsed and appeared dead. In another scene, a whole herd of 2,000 pigs went berserk and rushed over a steep bank into the sea. Jesus said, when an unclean spirit leaves a person it wanders around, seeking a place to live (Mt 12:45).
Based on the gospels, I notice this: there seems to have been a lot of this in 1st Cent. Palestine. How much? I don’t know! How does it get started? How does a demon possess a person in the first place? I don’t know. But unclean spirits seem to have concerned themselves with living like some parasite inside of a human being