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Chasing Down a Hopeless Case

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2022 12:00 am

Chasing Down a Hopeless Case

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 18, 2022 12:00 am

There certainly is no worse condition for a person than having their body taken over by a legion of demons. It is hard to imagine a demon-possessed man being of any use to Jesus during His earthly ministry. But as Jesus sails toward a deranged, demon-possessed man, He will reveal not only His total power over the spiritual realm, but also His ability to use anyone, regardless of their past, for His purposes.

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These people are just as blind. They can't see the value of this miraculously restored life.

I mean, here's the maniac you get there. He's got clothes on. Somebody must have loaned him some. Peter doesn't have a shirt on, you know, whatever. But they say, you know what, we'd really rather have our pigs back. See, here's the real tragedy. These townspeople might not have been running around naked. They might not be living in the cemetery. But they are just as much in the grip of Satan's deceptive power as this man had been. But now he is free and they are still back. There certainly is no worse condition for a person than having their body taken over by a legion of demons.

Can you imagine how horrific that would be? It's hard to imagine a demon-possessed man being of any use to Jesus during his earthly ministry. But as Jesus sails toward a deranged demon-possessed man, he'll reveal not only his total power over the spiritual realm, but also his ability to use anyone, regardless of their past, for his purposes. I'm so glad you joined us today for this message from Luke 8.

Stephen Davey called this message, Chasing Down a Hopeless Case. One of the most powerful, true declarations of who Jesus was came from the lips of a demon-possessed man. You talk to any number of people on the subject of demons and you'll probably come away with a number of different viewpoints.

Most of it will land somewhere between fiction and fear. People typically make one of two errors in regard to the devil and demons. One error is to disregard them and the other error is to become obsessed with them. We're given in Scripture clear instruction that our focus, our attention, is never on the devil. We're never looking for the devil, we're never looking for demons.

Our focus is on a person of Christ, Hebrews 12. We're told to resist the devil, how? By drawing near to God. We draw near to God and guess what the devil does?

He flees. We're told to be aware of his devices, his schemes, we're to be alert. Ephesians 6-11, we're to be careful and alert as we discern the teaching to determine the difference between true and false teachers, 1 Timothy 6. We're ultimately to draw our minds and our hearts to the person of Christ. So we don't underestimate Satan and his kingdom, but we don't overestimate him either. He is already defeated, he's on a leash, and the leash is held by the hand of sovereign God. We're about to watch an encounter where the truth of what the apostle John wrote will come true, where he said that greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

So let's watch that unfold. If you're new to us, we're working our way through the gospel by Luke. We're in chapter 8, so turn back there again at verse 26.

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. Now, Matthew's gospel, by the way, gives us the fuller account that there were two men who were demonized who came running up to Jesus. Mark's gospel account and Luke's as well focuses only on one of these men, perhaps because he was the most demonized, as it were. Perhaps he was the one who would become, as we'll see, a disciple of Jesus Christ. So the lens is focused on him. Luke simply tells us here that he had demons.

Now, what does that mean? Well, a simple definition of demon possession or demonization is when an unbeliever comes under the mastery of a demon, their thinking is under the control of the demon, their emotion responds to demonic influence, their body is empowered by demonic power, their will is dominated by demons. What Satan is doing, by the way, is using someone to become a counterfeit temple of an unholy spirit.

He's counterfeiting what we know today to be the indwelling Holy Spirit. Demon possession is where the devil plays God. However, a person demonized is destroyed, where someone indwelt by the Holy Spirit is constructed.

Satan always leads his victims, as it were, to self-destruction. Now, a Christian can become obsessed, as it were, by the demonic world but not possessed because he's inhabited by the Spirit. Our bodies are the temple of the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 3. Now, frankly, we don't have a lot of information and we have to be careful from the Bible to know exactly how a demon works on or within a person. I've seen ministries grow up where people write all these books about, you know, how to break the bondage and how to have the right incantation and most of it's utter nonsense. The New Testament letters to the church, by the way, never give us any kind of special commission to exorcism. They don't give us any kind of incantation. What we are given is the gospel, which is the power of Christ, that liberates and frees those enslaved to the kingdom of darkness, Romans 1.

16. Now, every unbeliever, in a way, although they're not going to evidence demonic control, is in fact a member of the kingdom of darkness. It could manifest itself in any number of ways. They need nothing less than the liberating power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, as we work through this encounter, let me make some observations about this demonized man, okay?

I realize this isn't your usual Christmas Sunday, you know, message, but we're in Luke chapter 8, next verse, okay? Number one, well, let me point out, he was mentally deranged. Look back at verse 27, again we're told, for a long time he had worn no clothes and had not lived in a house, but among the tombs. He's a wild man. In fact, we refer to him to this day as the mad man of Gadara.

It wasn't mental imbalance in this case, although it led to that, certainly. The demons and their influence was causing this man to violate all sensibility, all forms of sensibility, to live this wild, deranged lifestyle, literally running around naked. Secondly, he was financially destitute. You might have noticed the text tells us he wasn't in a house, he didn't live in a house, but among the tombs. So we don't know anything about his family, although there's more than likely a story there.

He's essentially homeless. The only place he finds refuge, a place to live, is a local cemetery, typically on the outskirts of town. Cemeteries in the days of Christ were commonly areas where tombs could be carved into the soft, limestone hillsides, making cave-like mausoleums. In fact, wealthy families would have included more than one chamber for extended family members to be buried, and these empty chambers would have been a perfect place for him to provide or find shelter. So somewhere, in a cemetery, on the edge of town, in one of these mausoleums, a wild, deranged, naked man is living.

I can imagine he would ruin a lot of funerals. I mean, he'd want to get in and out of there before the Madman of Gadara showed up. But he really was dangerous.

That's the third point, physically dangerous. In fact, if you skip down to the middle part of verse 29, Luke adds this parenthesis. For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. Just as the Holy Spirit, by the way, empowered Samson to perform amazing physical feats, exploits. So Satan is counterfeiting the Spirit by using whatever delegated authority has been given by God to empower this man, under his control, to do these amazing physical exploits.

But I don't want you to miss the main point. What you have here is a man whose life is self-destructing. It's wasting away. His connection with his family is essentially homeless. He has no purpose, no job, no relationship. He's literally moved into some chamber in a mausoleum. He's more than likely surviving by robbing travelers who come unsuspectingly nearby. It's what you would call a hopeless case. We would write him off. He's hopeless.

Everybody knew about this madman of Gadara. Now verse 28 tells us when he saw Jesus, they roll ashore here, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, what have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? He sees Jesus and the disciples are rowing ashore.

If you've been with us, they've just come through that storm. He comes racing down this hill toward them, no doubt to rob them or attack them. And as he's running toward them, I imagine the disciples are swimming back out to sea at this moment. Peter's probably thinking, we missed a turn somewhere.

Let's go back and start over. But as he's running toward them, naked, demented, wild hair, filthy body, shrieking, he suddenly, by means of the demons, recognizes one of these men. What does he do? He cries out and he falls down and get this without any announcement, without any introduction, the demon spokesman through him says, what have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? That's a staggering declaration from the unseen world. I want to point out a few things that this reveals not only about the demonic world and this understanding, but about Jesus. First of all, demons believe in the reality of the incarnation.

What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? He understands, Jesus, God the Son has become flesh. Think about it, the demonic world already knew all about it. They had heard to their utter horror and doom 30 some years earlier, the angels chanting in the sky to those shepherds, today in the city of David, there has been born for you a savior who is Christ the Lord. They heard that. That news spread like wildfire through the demonic world.

You see, that's the promise from all the way back to Genesis 3 verse 15, that day where God promised the woman her seed would one day come to crush the head of Satan, the head of the serpent, and to some degree they knew that day had already arrived. Those demons were there to look with terror at that swaddled baby in a manger. They'd watched him grow up.

They'd docked his heels. They had witnessed their leader, Satan, utterly humiliated at the temptation in the wilderness. They had seen his spirit descend at baptism. They had heard his claims of power. They'd watched him exercise stunning resurrection power over that widow's son in the village of Nain. They'd seen all that. They weren't denying who Jesus was.

They knew. Secondly, bound up in what he says here is this, demons believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? This demonic spokesman didn't say, What have you to do with us, O great rabbi? Oh, you know, great moral example.

Oh, good teacher. Now listen to the admission of Jesus Christ's greatest enemies. You are the Son of the Most High God. This demon isn't falling at the feet of a rabbi or a prophet or a teacher. Third, demons believe in future prophetic events. They're students of history and future prophecy. Look again, he says to Jesus here at the end of verse 28, I beg you do not torment me. If you go over to Matthew's account, he says, Before the appointed time.

Oh, when's that? Well, they don't know exactly. They know it's coming. Fourth, demons believe in the certainty of their future judgment.

Along that same line, don't let me do it. They reference here through this man the coming day of judgment. In fact, if you look down at verse 31, we're told, And they begged him, that is Jesus, not to command them to depart into the abyss.

The word abyss simply means without bottom, bottomless pit, a reference used in scripture for hell. And they're terrified that Jesus is showing up to judge them early and send them to the abyss early, which indicates that the demons have, again, not one shred of unbelief about their future doom. They're terrified of this reality.

And I want you to get it straight in your mind here. The demons are not attacking Jesus. Jesus is attacking them. Jesus has some things he wants to teach his disciples about this enemy.

And so it's interesting he asks a question. Look at verse 30, Jesus then asked him, What is your name? Now Jesus isn't asking because he doesn't know. Jesus is omniscient. In fact, a few chapters later, in chapter 19, he is going to say without introduction, Zacchaeus, why don't you come down out of that tree?

I'm going to go to your house today. It's possible that this question was used to provoke this man to begin remembering that he had a name. Although this man is tragically subjugated by demons, he's still a person. He still has a name. He still has an eternal soul. He still matters.

He is not a hopeless case. But the man isn't given an opportunity to answer. Luke reveals here in verse 30, the demonic spokesman controlling him answers, Legion. Our name is Legion.

That's a chilling answer. A Roman Legion was anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers. So Jesus is educating the disciples, I believe here and thus there is more than one. Let me give you another observation here on the demonic world. Number five, demons are under the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ.

Look at verse 32. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside and they begged them to let them enter these, so he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. Mark's gospel informs us that there were 2,000 pigs in this herd. That's a lot of bacon.

And I'm teasing, but I'm also hinting at some truth here. Why would Jesus have effectively allowed these demons to destroy 2,000 hogs? This is a Gentile region, this Decapolis, ten cities. Some Bible scholars believe they were running a black market for the not-so-faithful Jews. Other Bible scholars believe that these farmers were actually Jews.

They were running a booming business providing pork for that region, which is more than likely the case. Now keep in mind, we're still in the Old Testament economy. Jesus has not died, ascended, the Spirit descended and the church born, so we're still in the Old Testament. And in the Old Testament, this would have been, of course, for the Lord's nation, unclean animals, according to God's law. So unclean animals are the perfect hosts for unclean spirits. It's quite possible that in one command, Jesus cleans up a defiant, disobedient industry and then sends the demons to the abyss after all.

We're simply not told. But here's what we are told, verse 34. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country that is all over. Then people went out to see what had happened and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed then in his right mind. That's code for he is now a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Not only free of demons, he's freed from the kingdom of darkness forever. Notice, and they, that is the people, were afraid and those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes fell to their knees and cried out, You are the Son of the Most High, God deliver us too. Oh, wait, that's what they should have said.

But they didn't. They asked him to depart from them. So here's this insane man whose life has been redeemed by the power of Jesus and the people want Jesus to leave. Beloved, let me tell you something, that's insanity.

That is insane. Someone has just demonstrated power over the demonic world under which that first century world was terrified and we'd really rather you leave. Luke says here, latter part of verse 37, They were seized with great fear, so he got into the boat and returned. Why are they so afraid? We're not told exactly, but maybe it's because they recognized he had authority over the demonic world and he just might have authority over them. You know what terrifies your world today? That they might be under the authority of Jesus Christ. You want to see fear.

Deliver that message. These people are just as blind. They can't see the value of this miraculously restored life.

Here's the maniac at Gadara. He's got clothes on. Somebody must have loaned him some. Peter doesn't have a shirt on, you know, whatever. But they say, you know what, we'd really rather have our pigs back. See, here's the real tragedy. These townspeople might not have been running around naked. They might not be living in the cemetery. But they are just as much in the grip of Satan's deceptive power as this man had been, but now he is free and they are still bound. Jesus, we want you to leave. Now does Jesus care about them? Oh sure he does. He doesn't send them into the lake next. No, he's about to appoint the first missionary in the region of the Decapolis. Go to verse 38. It says, The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with them. But Jesus sent them away saying, Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you. And he went away proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. That's his message, his testimony.

It wasn't complicated. Just tell people what Jesus did for you, okay? We're going to meet this man one day and all of the host of redeemed individuals who heard his testimony and were rescued from the kingdom of darkness. Before we wrap our study up today, I want to provide one final principle that comes to my mind.

It's as true today as it was back here, and it's this. Jesus can do his best in someone's life even after Satan has done his worst. This man was a hopeless case, but here's the lingering principle of grace, isn't it? No one descends so deeply into sin and captivity and bondage that Jesus Christ cannot deliver them. I love the expression that Chloe Ten Boom often said, There is no pit so deep but that God is deeper still.

So we need to get the record straight here. When Jesus rode ashore, let me tell you, this man is not chasing down that hill after Jesus. Jesus is chasing after him. Can you imagine Jesus telling his disciples, here, listen, man, you know, I want to pull a shore right here near that cemetery up on a hill. There's someone I want to appoint as a new missionary to deliver the gospel to this region. There's an ambassador of the gospel that I'm about to commission. Here comes this naked man screaming, running, and Jesus says, well, here he comes now. Who could have imagined this? This man has been a trophy in the hand of Satan for who knows how long.

Now he is a trophy in the hand of God. And I want you to do this. I want you to start at home.

By the way, that's our commission as well. Start there. What do I say? Tell them what Jesus did for you and then spread it throughout the city. Tell them that Jesus reached into your pit of despair, that you were that hopeless case. Jesus came after you and redeemed you. What a powerful display of the power of God we've seen today. No matter what you've been through, God's power can change and work through you.

Thanks for joining us. This is Wisdom for the Heart. Your teacher for these daily sermons is Stephen Davey, the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina.

During the month of April, we have a free resource that we're making available. Stephen has a booklet called Resurrection Power. In the time it would take you to read that booklet, about 400 people around the world will enter eternity. That's why Jesus claimed to be the resurrection and the life is such great news. He didn't just claim it either.

He proved it. This resource will help you or your friends understand Jesus' resurrection power. This is a free digital download that you can download from our website. Go to wisdomonline.org for information. Get this free resource today and then join us next time, here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-30 13:02:33 / 2023-04-30 13:11:53 / 9

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