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Friday, November 20, 2009

Fear of Evil?

He shouted at the top of his voice, "what do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" for Jesus had said to him, "come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." - Mark 5:7-9

What frightens you? What frightens me? We live in a fear-based culture. We're afraid to do this or afraid not to do that. Fear is a powerful motivator. But have you ever considered what the devil is afraid of? What frightens Satan and his demons? Jesus. This short story in Mark clearly shows us that hells demons actually panic in the presence of Jesus.

The first words Jesus spoke was a command, "Come out." The demons knew that they have to obey His authority. Their fear was that torture awaits them when they obey.

Many of us write off demonic activity as a crazy notion. Maybe it's too charismatic. To some it's thought of as a ridiculous explanation for what is probably mental illness of some sort. The Great Physician knew the difference though.

You see, the problem with the man in our story here was not in his mind. But rather evil spirits from the outside had gotten inside of him. A physician must make an accurate diagnosis if there is to be a remedy. Jesus knew exactly the problem.

This man had knowledge of Jesus' identity. Thus far, in Jesus ministry, no one except demons knew who He really was. A mentally disturbed person certainly couldn't have discerned that either. But think about the fact that the demons knew Jesus - before you and I did!

Jesus does not negotiate with evil or tell the spirits to settle down and let the man live a normal life. It's the same way in the later instruction from James: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7). We don't negotiate with the devil - or listen to his lie that we cannot take authority over him.

Jesus doesn't get into a discussion with the evil spirits. He doesn't ask for details about where they come from, how they got into the man or what other special knowledge they may have. Jesus' focus is on the practical and not the mystical. There is only one thing that needs to be known, and that is that Jesus has power over evil. Period.

The demons in our story had totally destroyed the quality of life for this man. That's the devil's business. He comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. Just Jesus has come that we might have life. Jesus has come that our lives might be full and rich and satisfying. (John 10:10)

Another thing to notice about our story is the reluctance of the demons to go outside their comfort zone. It's in direct contrast to Mark's Gospel when Jesus tells His disciples to "go into all the world." Part of that worldwide mission - for you and for me - involves driving out demons. (Mark 16:15-18)

The contrast is striking. Demons stay in localized areas while Christ's disciples travel the world with the gospel. True followers of Jesus are willing to go outside their comfort zones to share with the others the good news about Jesus. Why is that? Because they know who they are. They know that Jesus lives inside of them. And they are not afraid.

Psalm 23 says, "Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death - I will fear no evil." (I'm paraphrasing here.) This is where it ends, folks. Even before the birth of Jesus Christ, there was God's plan for how we are to interact with the devil and his demons. They are certainly not to be ignored. But equally they are not to be feared in any sense.

Let's be practical. The power of Jesus Christ means you and I have authority over the devil. And we are not afraid.

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