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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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July 3, 2022 12:01 am


Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 3, 2022 12:01 am

Everyone whom Jesus has rescued from sin is granted a profound privilege: to proclaim the great works of Christ to the world. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke by considering Jesus' deliverance of a man in bondage to a legion of demons.

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There's a fascinating account in Scripture where Jesus and the disciples encounter a man possessed by a legion of demons, and a herd of pigs was nearby. If it took invading the pigs with these demons to rescue one human being from Satan, Jesus would sacrifice the whole herd of pigs.

Well, this is a familiar but strange story. Jesus commanded those demons into that herd of pigs, but the response of the people who witnessed this was not what we might expect. They asked Jesus to leave. Today on Redoing Your Mind, we return to Dr.

R.C. 's full series from the Gospel of Luke, and our focus is on Jesus' divine power over both the natural and supernatural realms. If you recall, the last passage we examined in the Gospel of Luke was the account of Jesus calming the storm that came up on the Sea of Galilee. And on that occasion, we recall that prior to Jesus' calming of the storm, the disciples were afraid that they would perish. And after Jesus performed this astonishing act, instead of their fear being removed, it was intensified, and they became very much afraid. And they cried out, "'What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'" Now, what happened immediately after that we don't know, because Luke doesn't take up the narrative until the boat in which Jesus and the disciples are sailing reaches shore.

I can't help but wonder if there was any conversation among the disciples who were with Jesus after they asked their question, What kind of a man is this? And I wonder how long the terror that they experienced in Jesus' presence remained with them. But I can only imagine that as the boat came nearer and nearer to the shore there on the Sea of Galilee in the area of the Decapolis that they were feeling a greater sense of relief because they wanted to get out of that boat, and for a time at least, they wanted to get out of the presence of Jesus because for them this has been one of the most traumatic and terrifying days of their lives. And now, of course, what follows immediately is only more trauma and more terror because as the boat comes in to land on the shore, it is greeted by the wild man that Luke defines and describes here in the text. And so we read that when they sail to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee, and when He, that is Jesus, stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time.

Let me just pause there for a second. This is not the only incident of demon possession that we encounter in the New Testament. It's not the only case where Jesus cast out the demons from these people who were so sorely afflicted. And we are not generally accustomed in our day to seeing people demon-possessed, at least in this part of the world, though there are occasional accounts of that. Nevertheless, we see in the New Testament a heavy concentration of this phenomenon. But in any case, we have the record here of a man whom we're told is demon-possessed, but he differs from other demon-possessed persons.

To what degree? Well, anyone who is demon-possessed is in a serious state. It's a horrible thing to have to experience or to contemplate. But if demon possession can admit to degrees, this particular fellow was severely demon-possessed. And if for no other reason, it was for the number of demons that had entered into him. Obviously, the New Testament sees the possibility of demon possession as involving more than one demon on any occasion. But in this case, we're told that this man is possessed by a multitude of them, as the conversation explains. We read, this man who had been in the city and who had been demon-possessed for a long time now wore no clothes.

He ran around naked, nor did he live in a house. He wasn't living in the city anymore, but he lived in the tombs. And the area that is being described here is right on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, where it rises up a steep cliff to the top, and on that cliff was built a cemetery that is multiple graves and tombs, most of which were filled, but some of which were still vacant.

And you talk about a homeless person. Here was this poor soul living not in the streets of the city, in a cardboard box where he was from, but he had been banished from his own town, sent now out into what was the wilderness and lived naked in a tomb. And we said when he saw Jesus, he's up there on the hill, and he sees this boat coming to the shore. And when he saw Jesus, he cried out and he rushed down to Jesus. As Jesus steps foot on the shore and with a loud voice, he screams at Jesus this question. And to be faithful to the text, I should scream the question, but I don't want to scare you to death. And so I'll just try to do this in a normal tone of voice because I might scare you to death if I imitated a demon, which some of you would call method acting.

Thank you. I try to have humor that's a little bit subtle, but maybe it's just too early in the morning. I don't know. But anyway, this man said in a loud voice, "'What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?'" Now obviously, the voice that is coming out of this man is not his own voice. It's the demonic voice that is addressing the question, what do we have to do with you, Jesus? What are you doing here, Son of the Most High God?

Now I see supreme irony in here. The last time we saw a question in this text was the question raised by the disciples when Jesus calmed the storm. What manner of man is this?

Who is this fellow? Well, the answer to that question is provided by the demons. The demons don't have to say, what manner of man is this? They knew exactly what manner of man it was, and they recognized what the disciples didn't recognize, that they were in the presence of God incarnate. And they used the title, Son of the Most High God. You know, when I read that phrase, Most High God, in the New Testament, I sort of get chill bumps because of it. For this reason, it's not a description of God that we normally use, but yet in the realm of anthropology and sociology where scholars have gone around the world that I mentioned the last time about discovering religion among the most remote people in the world and among animistic tribes and so on, and for the most part that the religion that the animists have is one that's completely negative.

They have evil spirits that they have to appease, spirits that indwell the alligator or the crocodile or the rhinoceros or whatever. And their religion does not focus upon a monotheistic deity. But the anthropologists have said that when they probe the people about their religion, they are able to discover that they have a vague memory of the God of the God who is on the other side of the mountain, the God who is not a part of their daily lives. And they refer to Him as the Most High God, which verifies what the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans chapter 1 that God reveals Himself plainly and clearly to all people everywhere, and that all the amount of false religion that we have cannot extinguish that revelation that God gives of Himself. So in every tribe and every tongue and every nation, there is an awareness repressed as it may be, not only of a God, not only of the God, but of the Most High God. I like that and the theological implications that it has. There's a term in Latin that is used in technical theology to describe God where He's called the ens perfectissimus.

I love it, the most perfect being. And even there, the theologians of the Middle Ages who invented this kind of language were prone to stutter and to redundancy, to talk about the superlative degree of perfection. I didn't know that perfection admitted to degrees. If something is perfect, it can't be most perfect because most perfect gains nothing over perfect. If you're perfect, you've reached the ultimate limit of what can be.

But as a matter of intentional hyperbole, the theologians spoke of the most perfect being because they couldn't find an adequate way to extol the perfection that resides in God. And now these demons understand that, and they recognize Jesus. And now it's not the men in the boat that are terrified, it's the demons who are terrified, and they're the ones who are saying, what are you doing here?

Have you come to torment us? For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. And then more background is supplied by Luke, for he says, For it had often seized him, and the man had been kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles, while he was still in the town. He was demon-possessed when he was in the town, and he behaved in this wild manner while he was in the town, so much so that he was a threat to the well-being of the citizens. So they bound him as tightly as they could.

But no matter how tightly they bound him, this man found a way to break his bonds and free himself. And so the people drove him into the wilderness. So now Jesus asks them a question. They had acknowledged that they knew Jesus and what His name was, and so He says to them, Okay, well, what's your name? You know My name. You have me at a disadvantage.

Please tell me your name. And He said, Legion, because many demons had entered Him, and they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Oh, there's a lot in that sentence. The demon-possessed man, whoever was the spokesman for the demons, identified himself by the name Legion. Now a legion in Roman categories consisted not of a handful of soldiers, but a multitude of soldiers numbering six thousand. So if you take this literally, demonic being is saying, Our name is Legion because there's six thousand of us in this poor man.

Well, I doubt if that was the case. I doubt if there were six thousand demons crammed into this one poor guy. But rather here we have another evidence of hyperbole. We're saying that we're so many that we're like a legion, like a whole host of us are here.

Well, maybe when we're in heaven we can get the exact number. But for now the message is clear that this man's possession was from a multitude of demonic spirits, and they begged Jesus. What was it that they begged Him?

This is significant. They begged Him that He would not command them to go into the abyss. Abyss is a bottomless pit and obviously is symbolic of hell itself. And if we compare this with the other synoptic gospels, there was another element added to it where they begged Jesus not to command them to go into the abyss, quote, before the time. These demons knew what their future held. They knew their destiny. They knew that God and His sovereignty had appointed a day in time where the demons would be shut up forever in the abyss. But that time had not yet come. The atonement had not yet been made. The kingdom of God had not reached its consummation as it would at the end of the age. And in fact, the demons knew that the day in which they would be sent into the abyss was way off in the future.

At least that was the theology they had been taught by the prince of demons, Satan himself. Well, Jesus knew that that kairos, that time that God had appointed, was not yet. And so on the surface, it seems as though Jesus now is negotiating with these demons because they are reminding Him that it's too early to be sent into the pit. And we see then that Jesus doesn't send Him into the pit. And some commentators look at that and they say, what's Jesus doing here, surrendering to the pleas and to the wishes of these evil beings?

But He's not. Jesus acknowledges by His actions that it isn't the time to send Him into the pit, but it was time for them to come out of this man. And so Jesus responded in this manner. As Luke tells us, there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain, and they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them.

And He permitted them. Oh, oh, does this cause a hue and cry among people who are saying, see, Jesus wasn't such a good guy after all. He was unfair, unjust, and gave cruel and unusual punishment to these animals. In fact, there were those in the town that wanted to start a whole movement called, save the swine, and make the swine protected species lest this Jesus ever come back into their village again. But you know, Jesus understood the difference between human beings and the beasts of the field. Jesus created the world, and He knew that the animals were created for man, not man for the animals. Jesus knew nothing of a world where fish eggs were protected and unborn human beings were destroyed.

That was as foreign to His way of thinking that anything could be. I read in the paper this past week, by the way, a lady wrote a letter and said she criticized some man for questioning the legitimacy of abortions, you know, with the same old argument. She knew before she read the rest of the whole article that it was a man that wrote it because men know nothing about pregnancy, and men of course obviously are incapable of making any kind of analyses of ethical issues. Only women can do that, and she said, reciting the mantra that you hear all the time, abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor.

And I think of that. I mean, now there's an intelligent observation, and I wanted to hear her say next, and bank robbery should be a matter of choice. It's a matter between the robber and the banker.

And homicide should be a matter of choice between the murderer and the victim. What madness that people use these statements and nobody laughs at them. I don't get it. But anyway, back to the story. There those are upset that Jesus harmed these poor little pigs. Well, as you know, pigs were considered unclean animals by the Jews. There were a lot of Gentiles that lived here in the Decapolis, and this was probably a Gentile herd of swine.

But here's the point. If it took invading the pigs with these demons to rescue one human being from Satan, Jesus would sacrifice the whole herd of pigs. Jesus told us that God notices the landing of every bird in the air. Every sparrow that lands is noticed by God, and are you not worth more than a bird? Are you not worth more than a pig?

Of course, we are in the scheme of creation. And so Jesus sent the demons out of the man into the swine, and immediately the herd ran violently down this deep place into the lake and drowned. Now, when those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled, told it in the city and in the country. They went running back home and said, you can't believe what happened out there. This fellow came along, and he secured that wild man that we know about who kept breaking his bonds. But he sent these demons into our pigs, and then the pigs went down over the hill and in the water and drowned.

No, he'd lost the whole herd. So they went out to see what happened, of course, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had opened, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed now and in his right mind. Not only had Jesus calmed the sea, He healed a human being who was tormented by demons, and now was in his sound mind.

And what was the response of the townsmen? The same response the disciples had on the boat on the Sea of Galilee, and they were afraid. Now, the reason why they sent that man out to the tombs in the first place is because they were afraid of him. And now they come and they find him calm, clothed in his right mind, and they're scared.

What does this tell you? They also, who had seen it, told them by what means it, the demon-possessed man was healed. And so the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked them to depart from them. When they heard how this man was healed, they didn't ask Jesus to come into the city and set up a practice.

They said, please leave. As I mentioned the last time, nothing terrifies a human being more than the presence of the Holy. And these town people realized that they were in the presence of one who was holy, and they were not, and they wanted him out of there. You wonder why Jesus was killed?

He wasn't killed because He was bad. He was killed because He was holy, and He had to be done away with. So Jesus got into the boat, and He was in the presence of the Holy. So Jesus got into the boats and left. But the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him, going up to grab the gun and little boat, said, please don't leave.

Take me with you. Jesus said, no, return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you. And He went His way and proclaimed throughout the whole city, what great things the Son of the Most High God had done for Him.

I don't know that I was ever possessed by demons, but I was certainly in bondage to sin, like every unbeliever is, and served Satan rather than God, as every unbeliever does. But once God rescued me, He gave me the duty and you the duty to proclaim His great works to the whole world. You can sense the gratitude that R.C. had for his salvation as he wrapped up that sermon from the Gospel of Luke. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Lord's Day.

I'm Lee Webb, and thank you for being with us today. Each week we return to Dr. Sproul's series through this Gospel account of Jesus' life and ministry. Dr. Sproul was able to mind the depths of Scripture in his sermon series, and you'll be able to study along when you request our resource offer today. It's a digital download of his expositional commentary of Luke.

It's nearly 600 pages of easy-to-read insight into every verse. Our offices are closed today, but you can reach out to us online at You can also hear Dr. Sproul's teaching on RefNet. That's our 24-hour internet radio station. You'll also be encouraged by the teaching ministries of Alistair Begg and John MacArthur. Plus, you'll hear audio books, Bible reading, and music. You can tune in right now when you go to or when you download the free RefNet app for your Apple or Android device. Renewing Your Mind is the listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. We're glad you've joined us today, and on behalf of all of my colleagues, we hope you find rest and comfort in God's truth this Lord's Day.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-28 05:12:32 / 2023-03-28 05:20:49 / 8

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