Summary: The demon possessed man is a reminder of the dilemma that is faced by every human that has not come under the influence of the saving power of Jesus Christ.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 22
by Dr. John R. Hamby
When the Deliverer Comes!
Luke 8: 26-39
The disciples had just come through a life-threatening experience on the Sea of Galilee. A terrible storm had almost taken their lives, and in a moment of weakness, they thought that Jesus had forsaken them. Awakening Him in a panic, they cried out, “Save us or we perish!” The Lord spoke to the murderous winds, and said, “Be Muzzled,” and the winds were stilled. The Lord rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith in Him and all that He had taught them. They responded with humble hearts and were in awe of their Lord, as the boats drew close to the shore..
That day would not end without another miracle taking place in the fading light of day. Suddenly, the quiet lapping of the water on the shore was interrupted by a piercing scream. Seemingly, out of nowhere, a wounded, naked man - hair matted, eyes wild, broken chains rattling from wrist and ankles, ran up to them on the shore and threw himself down at the feet of Jesus. Nothing that they had experienced prepared them for this.
1. There is a Real Spiritual Battle for the Hearts of Men (vv. 26-27a)
“Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. (27) And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time.”
Matthew (8:28-34), Mark (5:1-20) and Luke all record this story. Although Mark and Luke refer to two men, in Matthew only one is recorded. The natural explanation is that Mark and Luke chose to concentrate on the one who was the most outspoken and the most prominent of the two men.
Luke goes on to tell us that us that this man “had
demons for a long time” the KJV says that, “he had devils for a long time” but in reality there is only one “devil” but there are many “demons.” When the Bible says that “he had many demons,” it means that he was “demon possessed” or literally “demonized,” that is “under the influence of one or more evil spirits.” The Bible speaks of demon possession rather matter-of-factly, without apology or excuse. There are some today who find it distasteful to accept this account because of the mention of the Supernatural, and they try to say that this man was merely insane and not actually controlled by anything other than his own twisted mind. Others say that each time Jesus encountered such insanity, He just accommodated His terminology to their crude level of understanding. In other words, He just called such cases demon possession, all the while knowing that such was just a primitive superstition. The problem with that answer is that it makes Jesus a deceiver.
C.S Lewis wrote about the confusion about demon possession when he wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about demons (devils). One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased with both errors …with the same delight.” [C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters. (New York: MacMillan. 1971) p. 3 ]
Our world plays with spiritual forces rather than taking them seriously. Every day we see psychics advertise on Television, and the daily newspaper carries your daily horoscope. We tend to see these things as harmless and they are not. We need to be careful not to allow the forces of spiritual darkness to get a foot in the door of our minds through occult books, movies or even games such as “Dungeons and Dragons”.
This is serious business, according to Ephesians 6:12 there is a very real spiritual battle being waged between the God and Satan over the lives and souls of men and women. It was going on during the ministry of Jesus, it was seen in the early days of the church, and it will continue in every generation until the Lord comes again and Satan and all of his demons are forever cast into the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:10). The power of the Devil is real and I believe we are seeing increased evidence of it today.
I think that one other word of explanation is necessary here because there is still a lot of confusion about “demon possession” within the ranks of Bible believing Christians. Some maintain that even Christian’s can be possessed by a Demon. Let me try to explain why this can not be true! Charles Ryrie defines the problem by saying “Demon possession means a demon residing in a person., exerting direct control and influence over that person, with certain derangement of mind and body. Demon possession is to be distinguished from demon influence and demon activity in relation to a person. The work of the demon in the latter is from the outside in demon possession it is from within. By this, a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon since he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, a Christian can be the target of demonic activity to such an extent that he may give the appearance of demon possession.” [as quoted by Ron R. Ritchie. Do You Believe in the Devil. Unpublished data file. Palo Alto, Calif.: Discovery Publishing. (www. pbc.org/dp/ritchie/4319.html). p.3.] Christians can place themselves in a position to vulnerable to the forces of evil any time they surrender to either fleshly appetites (anger, lust, passion etc) or some form of self-emptying such as eastern mediation,