The Demon Possessed Man
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE DEMON POSSESSED MAN
Mark 5: 1-20
Here in Mark 5 you find what is commonly called “the story of the demon possessed man.”
- It is an eerie story…a scary story.
- Here Jesus is, along with His disciples…it is the middle of the night and their boat comes to shore and a man from the tombs…a man with an “unclean spirit”…a man that no one could bind any more…not even with chains…
- …a man who constantly night and day cried out and gashed himself with stones…comes up to Jesus and bows down to Him…and crying out with a loud voice says, “What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God, do not torment me!”
And if you will notice vs. 9…this man didn’t have just one unclean spirit…apparently there were many demons living inside this man.
- And Jesus gave these unclean spirits “permission to come out of the man and to enter into a nearby heard of swine”…and when the unclean spirits entered into the swine…the entire herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and they were all drowned.
- I am confident that had you been there that night this would have been one of the most frightening things you would have ever experienced…and one you would never forget.
- This is an eerie story!
But, this is much more than just a story.
- God put this here teach us some things.
- This is here to teach us some things about Jesus…and who He is…and what He is.
- And this is here to teach us some things about demons and the forces of darkness.
- And this is here to teach us some things about ourselves…and just how crucial it is that we each name Jesus as Lord.
Let’s begin our study this morning with the demons and the demon possessed man.
- What do you know about demons?
- In the past when I have studied with people who are learning the Bible for the very first time…almost every time they want to know about this demon possessed man.
- Did this really happen? Was this man really demon possessed?
- Does this kind of thing happen today? Are people demon possessed today?
- What is the purpose behind demon possession?
- Do demons exist today?
- Well, let’s answer some of these questions.
First of all, in spite of what modern critics say today, the gospel writer here makes it very clear that this man was demon possessed.
- Modern critics want to say that Jesus is simply dealing with some superstition of the people…or that they didn’t understand mental illness and Jesus just went along with this to keep from causing a problem.
- Jesus didn’t come to promote people’s ignorance…He came to reveal the truth.
- This man is not a maniac…he is not suffering from a mental illness.
- This man has an evil spirit living inside of him.
- If that is not true then how do you explain his supernatural strength?
- How can you explain that he knows who Jesus is before Jesus ever says a word?
- How can you explain the behavior of the pigs?
- There is no doubt that this man was possessed by demons.
Now, who are the demons?
- Well, the scriptures don’t tell us a lot about “who” the demons are or where they come from.
- What we do know from this passage is that these demons are real, live, beings.
- And the best explanation of who they are comes from Jesus in Matthew 25: 41 when He says that “the lake of fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”
- Just as God has heavenly hosts that are obedient to Him, Satan apparently has hellish hosts that obey his word.
Now, what can demons do?
- When they possessed people they could cause physical disabilities.
- People could be deaf or dumb because they had a demon.
- That was not always the case….not everyone who was deaf had a demon…but a demon could make a person deaf.
- Demons could give clairvoyant abilities, supernatural strength, and cultic powers.
- Remember in Acts 16: 16 where Paul ran into a girl who could tell the future because she had a spirit of divination?
And it is interesting that they show no discrimination with regard to whom they might possess.
- Demons might possess men, they might possess women, they might possess children from birth who didn’t have time to become evil.
- And in the gospels they are always addressed as distinct personalities from the one in whom they are living.
- Having a demon wasn’t simply having the influence of Satan over you as some people suggest.
- Demon possession was having living creatures living inside of human beings.
Now, the question is “why?” Why were they doing what they did? Why were these demons possessing humans?
- Well, it is interesting that the phenomenon of demon possession is never mentioned in the O.T….it is unique to the N.T.
- So, apparently the purpose of demon possession has a connection with Christ…and here I think is the answer.
- In Matthew 12: 28 Jesus says, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
- The indication is, God allowed demon possession so that it might serve as a sign to show that His kingdom or rule had come with Jesus.
- The critics would say to Jesus, “How do we know that you are bringing the kingdom of God?”, and Jesus would say, “Because I am driving back the kingdom of Satan when I cast out demons.
Here is another passage, look at John 20: 30-31:
30 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
- When Jesus cast out demons you were supposed to learn something.
- You were supposed to learn that He was the Messiah and the Son of God…and as such you could have eternal life in Him.
And here is another passage that explains the why; Mark 3: 27. Jesus says:
27 “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
- The purpose behind demon possession of human beings was to show that Jesus has power over them.
So that is the “why” of demon possession…so people would know for certain who Jesus really is…that He is the Son of God…and that God’s rule is in Him…and that Jesus has sovereignty over Satan and His demons.
Now, what about the duration of demon possession? How long did this phenomenon last?
- There is nothing in scripture that tells us when “possession by demons” ended.
- It is interesting, however, that in Acts we have only 4 examples of demon possession and then in the rest of the N.T. it is never mentioned.
- So, the indication is that once Christ’s identity and power was confirmed by the demons and His casting out of those demons…
- And once the apostles and their message was also confirmed by the casting out of demons…
- And once the church was established…demon possession came to an end.
- So, the indication is that demon possession has ended…
BUT, that doesn’t mean that demons and their influence has.
Look at this. According to scripture there is apparently another realm other than the one we live in…one we can’t see…where demons are still very active. Look what the apostle Paul says in Eph. 6: 10 and following. This was written to believers:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
- The apostle Paul says, “There is a war going on…it is a spiritual war…and if we are going to survive it we must be prepared.”
Look at this passage found in 1 Cor. 10: 20-21: No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
- Paul indicates here that you can worship demons.
And look at this in 1 Tim. 4: 1. But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
- Where do all these teachings that cause so much trouble come from?
- Paul says they are the work of demons.
Now, I don’t understand it all, but the indication is that demons are very active in trying to deceive and destroy us.
- And in these passages the apostle Paul indicates that they don’t do it so much by possession….but they do it more by deception.
- And Paul says, there is a war going on between good and evil and whether we know it or not…one way or another we are a part of it.
And that brings us back to this chapter in Mark because Mark 5 is a physical picture of this struggle that is going on…
- And what God tells us, through Mark, is “Jesus has power over the evil forces…all of them.”
- And if you are going to be victorious in your struggle with these dark forces…
- If you are going to withstand their influences…
- If you are going to be delivered from their power…a power stronger than you are…then Jesus must be your Lord.
- There is no other way for you to win the spiritual war that is going on without Him.
We just mentioned how the demons are out to destroy us by their deception and influences.
- And you see it every day, people who believe all kinds of things when it comes to religion.
- The other day, on Fox News’ Early Morning show, they had a woman on that claimed to be able to communicate with the dead.
- I just read recently, part of a book where the author maintained that Peter’s commands in Acts 2: 38 in reference to repentance and baptism was intended only for the Jewish nation and if they would have obeyed Peter, then Israel as a nation would have be restored to the national prominence that they desired.
- There are all kinds of teachings and influences…influences that Paul says are the “doctrines of demons”.
- And the only way you can know that those doctrines are false…and the only way you can withstand those influences and teachings…is by knowing and obeying what is true.
- And the only way you can do that is if Jesus is your Lord.
- Jesus’ word is true…and only by listening to Him and obeying Him can you withstand the destructive designs of demons.
- And that is what Mark 5 is trying to tell us.
- There is a war going on and the only way you can win is with Jesus.
Now, let’s go back to the story and look at some quick observations.
I want you to notice the demon and what he says. He comes up and he says, “What do you want with me Son of the Most High God. I implore you by God, do not torment me!”
- This demon pleads by and invokes God’s name for his deliverance from Christ’s judgment.
- Do you know what that indicates? That indicates that it takes more than just calling on God to be delivered!
- Today, there are many that have the idea that if they will just call God’s name into play…
- Or if they will just “believe” in Jesus…that they will be delivered.
- This demon believed in Jesus…and he also called on God’s name for deliverance…and it did him no good.
- We must understand that it takes more than just calling on God’s name to be delivered.
Now, I think it is important to notice that, to Jesus, it is worth the whole fortune of a town to save one man’s soul. In order to save one soul He loses the herd that belongs to a whole town.
- How important is a soul to us? Are we more like Jesus? Or are we more like the townspeople who considered the pigs more important?
The townspeople beg Jesus to leave their region and He does.
- And we need to understand that Jesus will not stay where He is not wanted.
And there is one more thing I want to share with you.
There are a lot of ways to be in chains to the devil.
- Being possessed by demons is just one way.
- Some people are in chains to addictions.
- Or to their temper…or to their love for money…or sex…or self.
It amazes me, we will come together, and we will read a story about how Jesus could cast thousands of demons into a herd of pigs, and we will sing a couple of songs and say, “Hallelujah, Jesus was great!’
- Then we will go home and we don’t believe that Jesus can help me with my temper.
- Or that Jesus can free me from my addiction.
- Or that Jesus could do something about my marriage.
John said in 1 John 3:8, the reason the son of God came was “to destroy the devil’s work.”
If Jesus can take care of this man’s demons, He can take care of yours too. But only if you will let Him.
With Jesus in the gospel of Mark, there is no middle ground.
- Think about it. In the gospel of Mark when people met Jesus they either wanted to leave with Him, or they wanted Him to leave.
- If He is God He deserves more than our patronage, He deserves our worship…not just our admiration but our adoration.
- What will you say this morning: “Get away from me forever, or will you say, I want to follow you.” There are only two answers. And remember, Jesus doesn’t stay where He is not wanted.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023