In Mark (1: 23-25) Mark relays an event that, for most of us, would blow our socks off if it happened in one of our church services. There was a man seated amongst the other worshipers who turned out to be demon possessed. He didn’t have a sign on him saying “I’m demon possessed” — he was just sitting there, blending in. Blending in, that is, until Jesus showed up.
Every Sunday we have others sitting around us who look normal but are dealing with stuff. Stuff that controls and influences how they think about life, how they look at others, themselves and how they process experiences. Make no mistake, everyone is under the control of something — maybe not to the extent this man was, but stuff nonetheless. And how would we know unless they say something, unless like this man, the Holy Spirit comes heavy upon them and they can’t stand it any longer?
There are those in our fellowships who are dealing with things that control them, addictions of all sorts, yet they probably look just like anyone else. How could you pick out a pedophile, an adulterer, an alcoholic or those whose minds and thoughts are continually haunted by past choices, controlled by aberrant impulses, the “bullet riddled target” from the sins of others? Do they look any different, do they stand out? Probably not, but inside they are anything but free. They are bound and controlled by unseen forces not of their making. But this particular Sabbath, Jesus enters that synagogue and things begin to happen. It won’t be the same old, same old. And that’s one of the points Mark is making — when Jesus comes into the picture, things change. I might add, when Jesus comes into our services and we let Him reign, things will happen.
Mark goes on to say that the demon within the man suddenly cried out to Jesus, questioning Jesus’ motives for being there. Mark says Jesus confronted the demonic, spoke with authority and the demon spirit responded by shaking the man violently before leaving him. We aren’t told by Mark what happened to the man once the demon left him. Did he lay in a pool of sweat, did he weep with joy? We don’t know what shape he was in, but without a doubt he was different, he was free.
The darkness of evil cannot stay in the presence of the light of Jesus Christ. The only response evil can give in the presence of the Holy Spirit of God is to flee. Those things that once controlled us will no longer control us once Jesus enters our heart. This is the hope the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers. That by faith all those who believe are set free from sin and shame, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to make different choices. For some it’s instantaneous, for others the change my take longer. I don’t know why, but whatever the reason it’s for the glory of God.
From my vantage point I can attest to the reality of a changed life, a life once enslaved by sin and controlled by evil influences and countless others know that spiritual reality as well. The Holy Spirit through the word of God comes into the soul, into the circumstance and speaks with authority to the evil which resides there. Just as he did with the possessed man.
So, whatever circumstance you are struggling with, Jesus Christ is the answer and its by His authority and the power of the Holy Spirit that He gives the only power that will set you free. And those who are set free are free indeed.
Have you experienced this freedom yet? If not and you’ve exhausted all your avenues of escape, cry out to Jesus Christ and experience what countless others have: healing, freedom, peace and joy. It’s beyond measure, beyond understanding but a spiritual reality. Come to Jesus. He stands and the door of your empty heart knocking and He says “if you’ll open that door I’ll come in and fill it.” This is truth. This is life.
The Rev. Norm Hooven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.