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On Your Mark


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.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. (Mark 5:7-10, NIV)

What makes you afraid?

I can tell you what scares the devil — Jesus. Hell’s dominions panic in the presence of the Lord. You see it here.

The first words Jesus speaks to Legion form a command, “Come out.” The demons know they have to obey His authority. Their fear is that torture waits if they obey.

Many write off demon possession as an antiquated notion, and a misdiagnosis for schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. The Great Physician knew the difference. The problem with the Gerasene man lay not within his own mind; rather evil spirits from the outside had gotten inside 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 was. A mentally disturbed person wouldn’t know that.

Jesus does not negotiate by telling the spirits to settle down and let the man live a normal life. Nor does Jesus treat the evil spirits like petulant teenagers: “Now, I’ll give you an hour to clean up your act.”

The order is, “Out! Now!” There is no compromise in dealing with evil spirits. Eviction is the only cure.

It’s the same way in the later instruction from James: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Don’t equivocate with the devil or listen to his lie that you 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 came from, how they got into the man, what other special knowledge they may have, nor any past encounter He may have had with the devil and his minions before the earth was formed. Jesus’ focus is on the practical, not the mystical.

There’s only one thing that needs to be known: Jesus has power over evil. Period.

These demons totally destroyed the quality of life this man could have enjoyed. That’s the devil’s business. He comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy — but Jesus has come that we might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Clearly the demons fear Jesus since they don’t want to be tortured, and they fear the unknown since they don’t want to be sent out of the area. Evidently demons don’t have much room to roam. Their fear of dislocation is so great the speaking demon begs “again and again” (Mark 5:10).

The reluctance of demons to go outside their area is in direct contrast to the end of Mark’s Gospel when Jesus tells His disciples to “go into all the world.” Part of that worldwide mission involves driving out demons (Mark 16:15-18).

The contrast is striking. Demons stay in localized areas while Christ’s disciples have traveled the world with the gospel. Followers of Jesus are willing to go outside their comfort zones to share with others the good news about Jesus — that He is the Son of God, our Savior.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, today take authority over everything in my life that tends toward evil rather than good. Help me in dealing with temptation and evil. Send me away from my own comfort zones, and let me not be afraid to go wherever You might send me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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