A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Know He is Willing and Able to Work in You

 

 

We are studying the gospel of Matthew as a Manual For Discipleship. We have seen how the work of Christ to make disciples is according to God’s plan, according to His word, and opposed by Satan (Matthew 1-2). We have seen that Jesus is anointed and approved by the Father for this mission (Matthew 3). We have seen how Jesus is our supreme example of discipleship and Christ’s call to follow Him and be disciples (Matthew 4). Jesus is the supreme Disciple-Maker and in the Sermon on the Mount He lays out and explains how we can enter into the life of a disciple and what it means to be a disciple (Matthew 5:1-16). Discipleship is more than mere religion, indeed if you are to be a disciple of Jesus, you must exceed religion and have a personal saving relationship with Jesus (Matthew 5:17 – 7:29).

 

These first seven chapters have been a classroom experience. In chapter 8 of Matthew we follow Jesus into the real world to see applied in His life, the principles He has taught. In chapters 8 thru 10 of Matthew we see a series of miracles done by Jesus. These miracles, (as well as the entire ministry of Jesus), show us a very important thing about Jesus our God. Beginning in chapter 8 the disciple learns that he or she must Know He is Willing and Able to Work in You. This important truth and realization is revealed in the opening verses of chapter 8.

 

He is Worthy of Worship, But Is He Willing to Work In Me?

 

Matthew 8:1-2 – “When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  [1]

Jesus has been up on the mountain teaching His greatest teaching and now He descends into the multitudes who follow Him for what will be an incredibly busy day. This descent of Jesus is a symbol of a greater descent of Jesus captured by the apostle Paul in his inspired letter to the Philippians where he writes:

  • Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  [2]

Jesus is worthy of worship.

Jesus, Worthy of Worship

 

Now when we continue to read it states, “a leper came and worshiped Him,” we see the highest honor and reverence being paid to Jesus. The Bible tells us that God alone is to be worshipped (Exodus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 5:7; 6:13; Matthew 4:10) and since Jesus is worshipped here, (and elsewhere – Matthew 2:11; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 228:9) this is a significant attestation to the deity of Jesus Christ, evidence that He is God in the flesh. The leper may not have been aware of all the theological significance of who Jesus was, but we can surmise that He knew that Jesus was Someone unique and special from others.

The leper “worshipped,” Jesus. The word “worship” is translated from the Greek term PROSKUNEO (Strong’s #4352) that has the image of, “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch to, . . . to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore). . . worship.” [3] This leper came to Jesus like an injured, castoff, dirty and dying dog looking for help.

“Lord, if You are willing”

Fallen at the feet of Jesus, the leper says, “, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” What is interesting here is that the leper didn’t seem to doubt that Jesus could heal him, he seemed to question or doubt whether Jesus would  heal him. The leper didn’t doubt Jesus’ ability, he doubted Jesus willingness. The leper is a lot like us in that we accept that Jesus is able to do the miraculous or bless us, but we doubt or question His willingness. We might think:

Lord, will You forgive my sin?

Lord, will You  save my loved one?

Lord, will You heal my marriage?

Lord, will You help me parent my child? Will You save my child’s soul?

Lord, will You heal me?

Lord, will You bless my work?

Lord, will You take away this addiction? This sinful habit? Will you free me from this bondage?

Lord, will You bless Your church? Lord will You add new converts  to Your church, will you multiply Your disciples? Will You send workers out into the harvest?

We believe God’s word and the accounts of the miraculous in the Gospels and Acts and other portions of the Bible; we see the history of His church in Acts and how it was grown by Him. but today, in the here and now, we oftentimes doubt, not his ability, but His willingness to work in us.

Is He willing? Is He willing to work in and through us?

The Willing Touch of Jesus

Matthew 8:3 – “Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”  [4]

 Some of the most encouraging words in the Bible are found in these verses. Jesus said, “I am willing.”  The courage and boldness of the leper to ask Jesus to help him was met with the most wonderful of responses from Jesus, “I am willing.” What are you asking Jesus about? What do you desire Him to heal? To deal with? Are you doubting His willingness to work in and through you? If you have this doubt that God wants to work in and through you, that He is some withdrawn, aloof and snobbish God; if you see God as unwilling to get involved with your life, unwilling to work, you need to consider the following verses:

  • Psalm 27:1-3 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.”  [5]
  • Psalm 46:1-3,7,11 – “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah . . . 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah . . . 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”  [6]
  • Psalm 84:11-12 – “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.12 O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!”  [7]
  • 2 Chronicles 16:9a – “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”  [8]
  • Romans 8:31-32 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”  [9]

These are only a very few of the portions of the Bible which express the fact that God desires to bless rather than to withhold blessing. God wants to work in your life and He is willing to do so.

John Courson makes the following statement about these verses in Matthew 8:

“Did you know our Lord never refused anyone who came to Him looking for help? He never said, ‘No, I don’t have time for you.’ In every instance, He dealt with people graciously, mercifully, and compassionately.’ [10]

Why Don’t I See God At Work In and Through Me?

Matthew 8:4 – “And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”   [11]

Ever wonder why Jesus said this kind of thing after he healed someone? Jesus one more than one occasion told the person healed to not share with others what Jesus had done for them (Matthew 9:30; 12:16-19; 16:20; 17:9; Mark 1:43-44; 5:43; 7:36; Luke 5:14; John 5:41; 7:8,18; 8:50). Why did Jesus do that? Jesus doesn’t want people to follow Him around like some new circus act that performs entertaining feats, He wanted people to follow Him for deeper spiritual reasons.

The KJV Bible Commentary makes the following remark regarding this verse:

“The purpose of Jesus in giving this command was to call attention away from the miracle itself and to appeal to the spiritual need in man. It is clear in the gospel accounts that the crowds were often attracted by Jesus’ miracles, but not always by His message.” [12]

Jesus knew His time had not yet come to set up the kingdom of God. Before that would happen, He must go to the cross. Therefore, He tried to steer people to the more substantial purpose of the miracles He did, which was and is, the spiritual truth and salvation He revealed with the gospel.

Now when we look at the Bible we often see that God blesses and works in people in spite of themselves. No one ever deserves God’s work in and through them. There are times when it isn’t that God has said “No,” but only that He is saying “Wait.” But, there are times when God makes His presence known by not working, when He teaches by not working in and through a person. Why wouldn’t God work in a person?

There are two reasons why God does not work in a person’s life, (we must qualify that because God is at work in every life to some extent). In the letter of James it states:

  • James 4:2-3 – “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  [13]

First, God doesn’t work in and through us when we don’t ask Him to, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” God created us with a free will and He honors that free will in us. He is not intrusive in the sense that if we are satisfied to go about our business on our own with no thought of Him, He will allow us to do so. There were probably thousands of lepers in the region where Jesus was, but only one leper came to seek help from Jesus. That was and is the key, the leper asked and He received. Earlier in Matthew Jesus said:

  • Matthew 7:7-11 - “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.9 “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?10 “Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  [14]

Now while the immediate context of the above verses would lead us to primarily apply this seeking to discernment concerning false teachers, it is also true that we should seek God’s intervention and help in all things. The promise is that, “everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Secondly, God does not work in and through us when we ask selfishly, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  In truth it is not that God does not work, but that He does not work the way we ask Him to work. There are some things that we ask Him to do that are wrong and God loves us enough to say, “No” to us. When we ask with a heart to bless and minister to God, when we ask with a heart to minister to others, rest assured that God desires to work in those situations. When we ask selflessly, God is for us and will work incredibly on our behalf. Again Jon Courson states:

“The Greeks had a saying that when the gods wanted to punish a person, they answered all his prayers. Many times our requests are just plain wrong, and our Father loves us enough to say, ‘No’ if ‘No” is the best answer. But He’ll never turn you away. He’ll always do what’s best for you and you’ll see it sooner or later, if you’ll ask Him.” [15]

In Matthew 8 we see some incredible testimonies of the ways Jesus is willing to work in people’s lives. As we look at these instances in which Jesus was willing to work, we can glean hope and confidence that Jesus is willing and able to work in us.

 Jesus Is Willing and Able To Work in Hopeless Situations

Matthew 8:2 – “And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  [16]

That the one who approached Jesus was leprous is significant in two ways. First,  leprosy was an ugly incurable disease. There were varying degrees and kinds of leprosy as indicated in Leviticus (Leviticus 13). Leprosy is not just a skin disease like psoriasis; it is a deep debilitating disease. Leprosy involves the deadening of the nerves which cause the body to lose its sensitivity to pain. The result is that extremities are injured and the injury is often overlooked which leads to infections and the wearing away of the extremities such as fingers, toes, noses, etc. When extremities would fall off, it led to a gross disfigurement of the leper. The leper’s face would become swollen and a very strong odor of rotting flesh could be smelled from 100 feet away. So deformed were lepers by their disease that they would cover themselves hiding their faces from onlookers. Since leprosy was thought to be contagious and by some the result of the direct judgment of God, when a leper came to a city they had to announce themselves by calling out, “Unclean! Unclean!” When in relative closeness to people they were required to cover their mouths because it was thought infection spread to others by their breathing out germs. Leprosy is spoken of as incurable (2 Kings 5:7). This disease was socially as well as physically debilitating.

Second, leprosy is a type of sin. It is fitting that the first miraculous healing of Jesus involves leprosy since it is used as a metaphor of sin in the Bible. When Isaiah was inspired to write of the sin of Israel he used a description of leprosy to do so.  Isaiah was inspired to write:

  • Isaiah 1:5-6 – “Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints.6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment.”  [17]

In Leviticus 13 leprosy is described as a disease that begins beneath the surface of the skin. Sin begins beneath the surface in the heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Leprosy, like sin, can perhaps be held in check for a time, but eventually it spreads to the entire body. We are all born in a leprous sinful condition. When people try to fight against sin in their own strength, they find that any victory is short lived and more often few and far between. If left unattended, sin, like leprosy, will lead to death; only the death caused by sin is eternal (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Someone has said, “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” You don’t have to each a child how to sin, it comes naturally to them. Sin on a small scale in children will develop into full-blown rebellion and lust if left to grow in adults.

Of leprosy pastor Chuck Smith states:

            “Leprosy, . . . was a horribly, loathsome disease. It is a type of sin, because of [it’s] . . .  insidious nature. . . .. [Leprosy] . . . has a capacity of attacking the nerve trunk so that a person loses sensation and feeling. There are open running sores, ulcers that will not heal. The [sores] gradually rot away a person’s body, beginning at the extremities. Usually one form of leprosy, that which is in the mouth, hits the lungs and so forth and has about a nine-year termination period.

            The outward type leprosy that begins in the extremities slowly begins to rot away the body. A person can be as much as thirty  years living with that horrible malady. [It was] Incurable by human standards. And so you see how it became a type of sin, incurable by human standards. Progressive, it keeps occupying a greater part of a person’s life. Slowly rotting away until it hits the vital organs and then the person is destroyed.”  [18]

 

The Touch of Jesus

 

Notice, Jesus didn’t stay at arms length. He could have just spoken a word and healed this leper like He would later do with the centurion’s paralyzed servant (8:8,13). But Jesus wanted to communicate His love to the leper so He reached down and touched him. It didn’t matter that the leper was an outcast, a repulsive and ugly member of society. It’s interesting that 21 times in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is shown to have used touch in His healing ministry (Matthew 8:3,15; 9:20,29; 14:36; 17:7; 29:34; Mark 1:41; 5:27,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; Luke 5:13; 7:14; 8:44,45,46,47; 22:51). On one occasion Jesus raised a young man from the dead by simply touching the coffin that carried the dead body (Luke 7:14).

Why does God use “touch” to minister to us? What does a “touch” communicate? When we look at Scripture we see that God uses touch in the following ways:

First, God uses touch to purify and prepare His servants for ministry by making His presence known to us. Isaiah wrote of the cleansing touch of God concerning an experience he had. Isaiah was inspired to write:

  • Isaiah 6:1-8 – “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3 And one cried to another and said: 1 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”   [19]

God touches our hearts and purifies them by making His presence known to us with a touch. God uses touch as a means to get our attention. God uses touch to reveal to us that He is real and has a plan for our lives. This is what Jesus did with Thomas who doubted the reality of His resurrection. In John it states:

  • John 20:26-31 – “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  [20]

Have you been touched by God? Maybe not a physical touch, but have you felt the inspired touch of the Spirit in your heart? Disciple, make contact with God in Christ.

Second, God uses touch to strengthen and encourage His servants for ministry. In the book of Daniel we have a beautiful example of how the touch of God strengthens His servant. In the book of Daniel we read of an incident where Daniel sees a vision and is exhausted because of what the LORD has revealed to him. God uses touch to strengthen Daniel. In Daniel it states:

  • Daniel 10:4-19 – “Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris,5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.14 “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”15 When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.16 And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.17 “For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.”18 Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.19 And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.    [21]

The One who touched Daniel was most likely Jesus in a preincarnate Theophany. Therefore, Daniel was strengthened by the touch of Jesus.

The greatest touch of God was through the incarnate Son of God. God reached down to touch humanity through the incarnation of His Son. This was the utmost revelation of God’s intimate personal love. John and Paul put it this way when they are inspired to write:

  • John 1:1-2,14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God. . . . 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  [22]
  • 1 John 1:1-4 – “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  [23]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  [24]

 Jesus reached down and touched the leper. The touch of God reveals His presence and His power; it purifies us and points us in the right direction to fulfill His plan. The touch of Jesus was a touch of love. That’s the way Jesus does things, He does things in love. As repulsive as the leper was to society and physically, Jesus reached out and touched Him. The leper was healed and the love of God revealed.

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment on these verses:

 

         “No one would touch that man. No one would dare touch that man, he was a leper. When a person came within a hundred and fifty feet of him, if the leper was upwind from the person, he would begin to cry out, “Unclean, unclean,” so that the wind blowing past him wouldn’t reach the person approaching him. The person would then divert and go around, he wouldn’t come close. You weren’t to get within six feet of a leper. Keep your distance, but Jesus reached out and touched him. I believe it was a touch of compassion, a touch of love, a touch of caring, a touch of concern.

         So many times we think that we are untouchable. The Lord surely wouldn’t want to touch me. My life is so rotten. I have failed Him so often. Surely He’s not interested in me, but it is interesting for me to note that Jesus was always interested in the person who had the greatest need. Whenever He was in a crowd of people. His greatest interest was always in that person in the crowd who had the greatest need.

         The enemies of Jesus recognized this. We are told that when He came into the synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath Day, there was a man there with a withered hand and immediately they all watched to see what He would do. It’s the Sabbath Day. Will He violate our traditions and will He heal on the Sabbath? You see, when Jesus walked in, they immediately associated Jesus with the man with the withered hand. They knew that He would be most interested in the person there with the greatest need. Now our thoughts are often quite opposite of that. We think, “I’m the most needy person here tonight. I’m gathered with all of these saints. They all have their Bibles. They’re all so intent in the Word of God and I’m such a rotten, miserable mess. My life is all fouled up, surely He’s not interested in me.” But let me tell you something, He’s more interested in you than He is the rest of us. He’s always interested in the person with the greatest need. And whoever you are here tonight who has the greatest need in your life, you’re the one who draws His attention. Jesus reached out and touched Him.” [25]

 

This tells us something not only about how Jesus seeks to deal with the sick, but about how He seeks to deal with the sinner. There is no sin so repulsive, that when repented of, Jesus will not heal. Disciple, that is something we need to imitate from our supreme Disciple-Maker.

No Impossibilities With God

As we mentioned earlier, leprosy was thought to be humanly incurable. But Jesus did the impossible, He healed the leper. Later in the gospel of Matthew a rich man comes to Jesus. The rich man had a kind of sinful leprosy. Sinful leprosy often manifests itself in the lust and consumption of riches. Read what Jesus said:

  • Matthew 19:23-26 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   [26] (See also Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17,27; Luke 1:37)

There is nothing too hard for God. No matter how much of a pariah society has made a person because of their sin, no matter how despicable, the cross of Christ is sufficient to work the salvation of the repentant sinner. On the cross Jesus dealt with humankind’s sin. The Bible says:

  • Colossians 2:13-15 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  [27]

Whatever accusations Satan or anyone else has against us because of our sin, Jesus has defused and undercut its power by paying the penalty for our sin on the cross. Therefore, there is no reason for anyone to not come to Jesus to be saved. We are now able to come boldly to God’s throne, (i.e. not brazenly bold, but confidently assured). In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 4:15-16 – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  [28]

It’s important that we do not hesitate to come to God when we sin. We might respond with shame concerning our sin, but a worse consequence of sin in our lives would result if we isolated ourselves from God and the fellowship of believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). God is merciful and willing to forgive and there is no sin He will not forgive if we only truly repent and seek His forgiveness (Ephesians 2:1-10). This leads us to our next aspect of Jesus’ willingness to work in our lives.

Jesus Is Willing and Able To Work Through Unworthy People

Matthew 8:5-8 – “Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.”  [29]

A centurion was a symbol of the conquering Roman forces and therefore despised by the people. A centurion was in charge of 100 men. To reach the rank of centurion one had to be battle tested and proven brave and victorious. Centurions were often fierce and to be feared by the people. This centurion was aware of his utter unworthiness before Jesus, but he came to Jesus nonetheless. Why did the centurion feel unworthy? The centurion had no doubt sought healing for his servant through worldly means. He likely went to doctors and sought medicines to treat the ailment of his beloved servant, but all apparently without success. But nothing he did could ease the pain and suffering of his precious servant. The centurion was aware of the social and religious barriers that separated a Gentile man of war from a Jewish holy Man of peace. He likely heard of the healing of the leper and sought out Jesus as his last hope for his servant.  The centurion was at the end of himself, he didn’t know what else to do. God had him right where he wanted him. God allowed this to happen because man’s extremities are God’s opportunities.

 

Herein is the purpose of God in bringing a person to the end of him or her self, to a sense of their unworthiness. By bringing a person to a sense of their unworthiness before God, God is humbling them. God humbles people by bringing them to the end of themselves, by allowing them to exhaust human and or worldly resources.

 

False Unworthiness

 

We should comment here that it is one thing to see yourself as unworthy, but that sense of unworthiness is often twisted by our flesh so that its intended purpose of God is thwarted. We are all unworthy before God. This is the basis for the understanding that God’s work in and through us is by His grace. Grace is undeserved, unmerited favor from God. If we were worthy, God would not have to act graciously with us. A view of oneself as unworthy that leads to isolation from God and the fellowship of believers is ultimately a proud self-centered kind of spiritual suicide. True humility and a true sense of unworthiness before God does not lead to walking away form Jesus, but leads to humbly coming before Jesus like the centurion in our passage.  To walk away from God and the fellowship of believers because one feels
”unworthy” is to compound sinfulness with a subtle proud exalted view of one’s sinful state. It’s as though the person sees themselves as “the worst,” and puts themselves on an unreachable pedestal above all other sinners. The result is again to bring the focus of attention proudly on that person. To isolate oneself from the fellowship of believers is to compound this sin of self-centered unworthiness with disobeying God’s direct command to not neglect the gathering together of the fellowship (Hebrews 10:24-25). To isolate oneself in this way also puts the person in a hopeless situation for the only way unworthiness can serve in a positive way is to drive us to Jesus. The purpose of God allowing the sense of unworthiness into a person’s life is to drive them to Jesus. Unworthiness, in the hands of a religious Pharisee can become a mockery of God’s intended plan because the Pharisee uses it to bring attention to themselves. Jesus said the Pharisees fasted publicly for the sake of impressing people rather than from their heart to God (Matthew 6:1,16). Pride is an ugly sinful work of the flesh. Pride takes “unworthiness,” parades it before people to secure pity from them, and then uses it as an excuse to do exactly the opposite of what God desires.

 

True Unworthiness Leads to Marvelous Great Faith In God

 

Matthew 8:9-12 - “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!11 “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.12 “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”[30]

The centurion recognized that just as he had authority over the soldiers in his command, Jesus had authority over sickness. How did Jesus respond to this “unworthy” centurion? Jesus not only welcomed the centurion and responded positively to his request, but Jesus commended the faith of the centurion by saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (8:10). Jesus indeed, “marveled,” at the centurion’s faith. To “marvel” (Greek THAUMADZO - Strong’s #2296) means, “admire, have in admiration, marvel, wonder.” [31] There are only two places in the gospels where it states Jesus was moved to “marvel” at someone. Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the people of Nazareth (Mark 6:6) and He marveled here at the “great faith” of the centurion.

 

Jesus goes on to say that the faith of the centurion exceeds that of “the sons of the kingdom,” which is a reference to the Jews who relied on their birthright to lay claim to God’s kingdom. Jesus said physical birthright was not enough (See what Paul said about this in Romans 2).  How could Jesus say this? Because the centurion’s sense of unworthiness was genuine and pure and true, and most importantly it drove him to trust in Jesus with his heart with great faith.

 

It could be said that heart attitude is everything with the Lord. The way we come before God with our requests is very important. In Peter’s first epistle he states:

 

  • 1 Peter 5:5-7 – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for  “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  [32]

When Peter says, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,” it is another way to say, “Have faith in God.” Faith in God casts its cares on God and trusts Him to work things out according to His good will. The promise to those who trust God is that, “He may exalt you in due time,” He will work things out according to His plan and will. Peter offers assurance with the statement, “He cares for you.” God cares for you and will work things out for the best. His best is the best we can ever hope for.

The Right Attitude of An Unworthy Servant

If you come to God in a proud authoritative tone demanding He give you what you want, He may bless you in spite of your heart-attitude, but He will more than likely humble you. Jesus spoke of the attitude we should have when we come before God when He said:

  • Luke 17:7-10 - “And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?8 “But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?9 “Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.10 “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”    [33]

There is a lot of proud demanding of God present in His church as well as outside of it. It is a wonder that God has not stomped these puny gods, but that is why God is God, He is merciful and longsuffering. We need only look to such examples as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and king Herod (Acts 12:21-24) to see what the proud are due. The right attitude of a servant is to see oneself as only doing that which we are supposed to do. It is a privilege to serve the Lord Jesus and disciples should adopt that as their attitude for service. If the disciple adopted this attitude, there would be a lot less grumbling in the ranks of God’s army.

 

A Christ-like Attitude Played Out Practically in Life

The apostle Paul was inspired to urge his readers to adopt the attitude of Jesus and then spoke of how that attitude would be played out practically in life. Read what he was inspired to write first about the right Christ-like attitude and then about how it was practically played out in life:

  • Philippians 2:5-8 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  [34]
  • Philippians 2:12-16 – “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”  [35]

Now you may find this a bit convicting, but don’t be discouraged, the glorious truth is that Jesus is willing to work the right attitude into you and once it is in you He will work it into others through you. May His will be done in us! That’s what these verses promise us and that is simply amazing.

Jesus is Willing and Able to Work In Unexpected Ways

Matthew 8:13 – “Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.”  [36]

Jesus touched the leper when healing him, but he simply spoke a word when He healed the centurion’s servant. What is also interesting is that the servant was not even there to hear what Jesus said! Jesus cannot be put in a box. The servant might have been praying to God for healing, but we don’t know that with certainty. We do not even know that the servant had any faith in God. All we know is that the centurion had “great faith,” and apart from anything the servant did, Jesus healed him through His word. Jesus worked because of the faith of the centurion. This should encourage us to pray and seek Jesus intervention in the lives of others. Jesus has authority over sickness and when He chooses to heal, He heals.

The words of Jesus are powerful because they express the will of God.  Jesus used many different means to heal people (e.g. Mark 7:33; John 9:6). Jesus never used a pat formula to minister, but He seems to have even gone out of His way to avoid pat or formulas when He worked. This is true of God throughout the Bible. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3). He parted the Red Sea to allow His people to escape their enemies (Exodus 14:21-28). He worked in Israel in unprecedented ways (Deuteronomy 4:34). He parted the Jordan to allow His people to cross into the Promised Land (Joshua 3). He used a young shepherd boy to slay a Goliath (1 Samuel 17). He preserved three trusting teenagers in a furnace heated seven times hotter than ever before (Daniel 3). He literally wrote His judgment on the wall of a drunken blasphemous king’s palace (Daniel 5). That’s only a select few from the Old Testament. In the New Testament we have countless different miracles by Jesus. The apostle sin Acts are empowered to heal the sick and raise the dead (Acts 3 and 20). He knocked Paul off his high horse (Acts 9). He reveals Himself to those who are not even searching for Him (Romans 10:20). Many will be surprised by the unique way Jesus returns to this earth for His saints at the rapture and at His second coming (1 Thessalonians 4 and Matthew 24). And that’s only a paltry few of the different ways God works.

God works in a variety of ways. The only thing we can be sure of is that God’s work always amazing. The Bible says God works in surprising ways:

  • Psalm 65:5 – “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas;”  [37]
  • Psalm 66:3,5 – “Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.5 Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”  [38] (See Isaiah 64:3).
  • Isaiah 55:8-9 - “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  [39]
  • Habakkuk 1:5 - “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.”  [40]
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  [41]

Now you might be tempted to think, “Yeah pastor, that was fine and good in Old Testament and New Testament times, but does that hold true for today?” I believe it does. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8). God does not change. What He promised in the past is true for today and forever. He is willing and He is willing to do wonderful, magnificent things in your life right now. Are you willing to have Him do it? That is the stickier question.

We need to guard against the formulization of ministry. In other words, thinking that if we do “A, B, and C,” then the desired result from God will occur. Some press formulization to a blasphemous degree by stating the power to heal is in the words they speak and if they speak it, God must perform it. That is lowering God to our level and totally disrespectful to Him. God answers to no man and His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer is to get us in alignment with Him, not visa versa.

Another example of the creativity and variability of the way God works is found in the book of Acts. If we look at the book of Acts we see that the Spirit empowered people and worked in various different ways. When people were baptized in the Spirit sometimes they spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46) and sometimes it isn’t clear whether or not they did (Acts 8:17-18). Sometimes the baptism of the Spirit is accompanied by the speaking of tongues and prophecy (Acts 19:6). Sometimes the baptism of the Spirit seems subsequent to the initial salvation experience and sometimes it appears almost simultaneous (Acts 9:1-22; 10:44-46). God will not be put in a tidy little box. God reserves the right to work in ways that we do not expect. God is not very orthodox when it comes to the way He works. He never oversteps the boundaries He has set in place with His word, but the Spirit does use ways we are not always ready for (Acts 9). We need to be ready for Jesus to work the way He wants to work, not according to a set of formulized rules.

 

When Jesus came to earth many if not most of the religious leaders rejected Him. Why did they reject Him? Because He didn’t fill the description they expected. Jesus wasn’t who or what the religious leaders expected and so they rejected Him and denied the Lord of  glory. God works in ways that are supra rational at times. God works in ways that we just don’t expect. We need to be open to His ways even if they are not our ways. He will never contradict His word, but He will often act in ways that defy our imagination and expectation.

 

Jesus is Willing and Able to Work Even When We Can’t Physically Serve Him

Matthew 8:14-15 – “Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.”  [42]

Peter’s mother-in-law, (which means that Peter was married and very unlikely celebate as is claimed by those who hold that he is the first pope) lay sick with a fever and unable to serve those around her. Though she could not serve because of her ailment, Jesus worked in her by healing her and enabling her to serve. It is likely that Peter’s mother-in-law was willing to serve but not able to serve. Jesus simply “touched her hand,” and she was made well to serve.

Does this mean that if you are ill or incapacitated and physically unable to serve the Lord that you are excused from serving the Lord? I don’t believe so. I believe that while Jesus does not always choose to heal a person, He is always willing to give someone, no matter his or her physical state, a way to serve Him. He may use the physically challenged person have a prayer ministry, a phone ministry of encouragement, or any number of a host of ministries. What each and every person needs to do is humbly ask the Lord to show them how and where they might serve Him. Jesus can use anybody who is surrendered to Him.

Jesus is Willing and Able to Work To Fulfill His Word

Matthew 8:16-17 – “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 1 “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.”   [43]

Jesus is always willing and able to fulfill His word. The healing ministry of Jesus served the purpose of identifying Him as the One who was foretold of old, the Messiah to whom numerous prophetic Old Testament passages pointed. This is why Matthew repeated points out that what Jesus was doing was in fulfillment of prophecy.

The Effect on Prayer

This also points out to us that when we come to God in prayer, we ought to come pleading the promises of God because He is true to His word, to fulfill it in and through us. In John’s first epistle it states:

  • 1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  [44]

God’s word reveals His will and if we know His will we can pray confidently knowing that He is always willing to fulfill His will. This truth guides our prayers and pattern for life.

Jesus Wants to Fulfill His Word In and Through The Church

An example of this can be seen in the book of Acts. How should we pray for the church? What is God’s will regarding His church? When we look in the book of Acts we see that God blesses the teaching of His word. Indeed, the church depicted in Acts grew as a result of the preaching and teaching of God’s word. Therefore we ought to pray that the church be true in its teaching of God’s word and that God would bless the effect and impact of the teaching of His word the same way He did in the time of the book of Acts. If you provide a fertile field of God’s word for sheep to graze in, God will guide sheep there to graze. No one desires healthy sheep, (fed on God’s word) more than God does. God’s wants you to be an edified and empowered disciple. Read how God blessed the preaching of His word as attested to in the following verses:

  • Acts 2:41 – “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”  [45]
  • Acts 2:42,47 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  [46]
  • Acts 4:4 – “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”  [47]
  • Acts 4:29-31 - “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,30 “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.  [48]
  • Acts 6:2-4,7 – “Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.3 “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;4 “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” . . . 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  [49]
  • Acts 12:24 – “But the word of God grew and multiplied.”  [50]
  • Acts 13:49 – “And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.” [51]
  • Acts 14:3 – “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”  [52]
  • Acts 15:35 – “Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.”  [53]
  • Acts 19:20 – “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”  [54]

These are only a few of the more than 40 references to God working in people by way of His word found in the book of Acts. Truly the church as God intends it to be is the Spirit of God working in the people of God by way of the word of God. The church today can appeal to God on the basis of the model for the church He gave us in the book of Acts. Jesus is willing to fulfill His word.

But we need to also look at what is said about what is being fulfilled. Isaiah is quoted in a way that links healing to the cross of Christ. We are always forgiven when we ask forgiveness for our sins by faith in the cross of Christ. But why aren’t we always healed when we ask? Let’s see.

Jesus Is Willing and Able To Heal

Matthew 8:16-17 – “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:  “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.”   [55]

Notice that the healing being done by Jesus is connected to the cross work of Jesus because Isaiah 53:4-5 is quoted and Isaiah 53 refers to the atoning substitutionary work of Jesus. The cross of Jesus atones for all sin and all of the effects of sin. This is why at Calvary Chapel of Hope when we serve Communion we always give opportunity not only for people to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but also for those who are sick to seek healing on the basis of the cross work of Jesus.

Why Is There Sickness In The World?

Did God create the world with sickness in it? If not, why is there sickness and disease in the world? The world is out of kilter and mankind is opposed to God because of the sinful decisions of our predecessors Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 5:12-14). When our first parents sinned apparently it upset the perfect genetic code of God and our perfect bodies became infected with a defective genetic code. We no longer had the perfect minds or perfect bodies that Adam and Eve were created with by God. We now began to age and to ache. Sin upset nature as well. We became susceptible to bacteria, disease, and infections. Humanity and the animal world came into conflict. Weather became an unpredictable threat at times to humanity. There is a sin that is in the world as well as a sin that is in the individual. Spiritual and physical death and deterioration are the consequences of sin no matter where it is found.

It is important to understand therefore, that a person who is sick may indeed be sick because of willful sin in their life. But a person can also be sick because of the sin in the world. There is personal sin and there is planetary sin. Both cause sickness and death. Personal sin is that which results from willfully rebellious, disobedient personal choices. A person may become sick with a sexually transmitted disease because they have willfully chosen to enter into a sinful adulterous relationship. Their sickness can be seen as a direct consequence of their sinful behavior. Planetary sin on the other hand is the result of the overall infection of Creation with sin. Someone may be a solid born again Spirit filled and empowered Christian and find that they have cancer. They did nothing to bring their sickness upon themselves; they are just a part of Creation.

Often we see situations where a person in a church becomes ill. Perhaps they find they have cancer. A person's pain is compounded when their sickness is wrongly attributed to personal sin when in fact it is the result of planetary sin. We see this happen in the church when those who become sick are shunned or looked down upon. "What sin did you commit to bring this upon yourself?" is the response the sick are met with by their accusers. "What must they have done to have brought this upon themselves?" is the thought of those who stay away in merciless silence.

How Does God Heal?

When we look at the word of God we see that healing is linked to a number of things. The four things mentioned below are the most common variables related to God’s healing works.

First, God’s healing involves the application of God’s word. In the psalms it states:

  • Psalm 107:20 – “He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.”  [56]

God’s word is His revelation to humankind and if we are to know anything about Him or what He desires to do in and through us, including that He wants to heal us, we need to be in His word. Therefore, either directly or indirectly, God’s word is always related to God’s healing.

Second, God’s healing involves prayerful declaration of dependence upon God to heal. In the Old Testament we see this in the case of Moses prayerful request of God to heal his sister Miriam (Numbers 12:5-10). In the New Testament we see the involvement of prayer in the letter of James where it states:

  • James 5:14-15 – “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”  [57]

The anointing with oil is a symbol of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the one being anointed (Zechariah 4). Prayerful dependence upon God is essential to healing.

Third, God’s healing involves the faith that God provides. In the book of Acts Peter and John had come across a man who had been lame from birth, (i.e. he had a genetic defect). God directed them that He was willing to heal that man and as Peter and John fixed their gaze on the beggar Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you: 'In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." (Acts 3:4-6). Miraculously Peter took the man by the hand and the man was able to rise to his feet and leaped for joy. This miracle of healing was there for all to see and many looked to Peter and John in amazement. When the healing occurred, the focus was being turned onto the two apostles. But they were quick to give the glory to Jesus for the healing as they stated:

  • Acts 3:16 - “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” [58]

This verse tells us that healing begins and ends with Jesus. Notice the faith that healed was "faith in His name" and "the faith which comes through Him." The faith to be healed comes from Jesus.

Faith is not something we conjure up within us, it is the work of God in us. In the gospel of John it states:

  • John 6:29 – “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  [59]

Faith is not our work; it is the work of God in us. When we simply look to God to receive, He puts His faith in us (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8-9). Our faith is built up by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). How does this effect healing?

It is clear that God heals by faith. If someone has faith to be healed it is because in the sovereign grace of God that faith has been given to them. If a person is not healed it is not necessarily because that person does not have enough faith, it may be because God has chosen not to heal them. It is wrong to blame the unhealed of not having enough faith. It is up to God to determine who He will and will not heal. Only He knows the reasoning behind such decisions. We have no right to play God and ignorantly accuse the unhealed of a lack of faith on their part. We ought to encourage instead of accuse the sick. God may have a far more important lesson to teach them and us by not healing them!

Fourth, God heals by way of spiritual gifts.  In 1 Corinthians 12:9 it refers to spiritual “gifts of healings.”

  • 1 Corinthians 12:7-9 – “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,”  [60]

Notice that the phrase, “gifts of healings,” is plural and does not refer to a singular gift of healing. This is important because it would appear that rather than any one person being given the gift of healing, God wisely chooses to give “gifts of healings.” In other words, God heals instantaneously on occasion by various people at various times rather than giving a gift of healing to a particular person. This is probably because if a person had a gift of healing, they would become the center of the miraculous work of God and people would seek them out much the same as they did with Jesus. God avoids such a problem by maintaining sovereign control over healings so that no individual can claim to corner the market on healing and draw attention to themselves and rob God go glory.

Fifth, God heals through medicine. It would be wrong to separate God’s miraculous healing from healing that comes about by way of the application of known medicinal means. The Bible speaks of God’s use of medicinal means to heal people. An example of this is the healing of king Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24-30; Isaiah 38). Hezekiah had become sick and near death and Isaiah the prophet went to him and told him he needed to get his house in order because it was time for him to die. Hezekiah then prayed and wept bitterly about his plight. God heard him and granted that he be healed and live on. The means by which God healed Hezekiah was by way of the application of a poultice made of figs (Isaiah 38:21). God heals through medicine. In truth it is safe to say that whatever healing takes place is ordained by God. God should receive the glory for whatever healing takes place.

Is Everyone Who Asks Always Healed?

Not everyone who prays for healing is always healed? Otherwise there would be no illness in the earth. The absence of healing often leads to greater pain for the suffering. Very frequently the pain of a sick person is compounded when they are blamed for not being healed. A sick person comes to church and seeks prayer for healing. Prayer is offered for the healing and no healing occurs. Why not? Well in an effort to protect God, (who really needs no feeble attempts by any person to protect Him) the seeker is blamed. The reasoning behind such blame is, "A good God doesn't want anyone to be sick, therefore the problem is not with Him but with the sick person."

Another reason the sick seeker is blamed for not being healed is in order to make an excuse for those who claim the gift of healing (singular). Those who claim this gift don't want to risk failing to heal someone. Therefore, the focus is placed on the so-called lack of faith of the one seeking a healing. "You just didn't have enough faith sister. You've got to believe, really believe, to be healed" the sick are told.

Each of these responses lead to a compounding of the sick person's pain and I believe each is based on a wrong understanding of God's Word concerning healing for the following reasons.

First, God does not always heal. God heals according to his sovereign will. Sometimes the righteous are sick. Examples of this truth are:

  • Epaphroditus nearly died of an illness - Philippians 2:25-30
  • Trophimus was left in Miletus sick - 2 Timothy 4:20
  • Timothy was instructed to use wine for his sick stomach - 1 Timothy 5:23
  • Paul prayed three times for his own healing and was denied - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

In each of these instances we see sickness in persons of faith. That Epaphroditus was “sick almost to the point of death,” implies that his healing did not come instantaneously with the prayers of the saints but was likely a gradual healing. It probably took ongoing prayer in the healing process of Epaphroditus.  In the case of Trophimus, he was left in Miletus sick. Does this mean he lacked faith to be healed? Paul most likely prayed for Trophimus to be healed. Therefore, does it mean Paul lacked the faith to heal him? Paul had the gift of healing for sure (Acts 19:11-12), but in the case of Trophimus apparently it was not God’s will for a healing to take place. Timothy appears to have had a chronic stomach ailment that Paul suggested he treat with wine. Undoubtedly they must have prayed for an instantaneous healing, but one does not appear to have been granted by God. Paul himself prayed for healing three times and was denied. Did he lack the faith to be healed? In all of these cases a righteous person appears to have not been healed to some extent. If God does not always heal, then why does He not always heal? The answer to this and these other questions rest in the second point regarding a proper view of healing.

Second, God does not always heal in order to teach a greater lesson. Observe what the apostle Paul stated:

  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  [61]

It is believed that the apostle Paul had an ailment with his eyes (perhaps a form of conjunctivitis - Galatians 4:13,15). Now ask yourself, was Paul's faith lacking? Was the one who God used to write fourteen of the twenty-seven New Testament letters, was his faith lacking? Was the one whose handkerchiefs and aprons brought healing, was he without faith to heal himself? (Acts 19:11-12) Some who rigidly hold to faulty doctrine go so far as to say Paul's faith was lacking. (See the book Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraf for a discussion of such persons.) I don't believe his faith was lacking. I believe God had a higher priority. God desired to teach the sufficiency of his grace. Paul was able to "boast in my infirmities" even though he was not healed of his infirmities. He gained victory in the illness. Paul learned to rest in Jesus even in the midst of his physical condition which brought him discomfort and pain. He was in the fire and he could still boast in the LORD. He learned he could "take pleasure in infirmities." Was he a masochist? No, he simply learned the lesson of God's grace. He learned, "my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." The weaker we are, the more we have to depend on God. I believe Paul experienced a sweet fellowship with the LORD in the midst of his sickness, pain and discomfort. He learned that God would use him even when he wasn't running physically at one hundred percent. He learned God was with Him in all situations and that was all he needed.

Finally, God allows sickness in order to bring glory to his name. In John’s gospel Jesus says:

  • John 11:4 – “When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”   [62]

Glory is brought to the name of God by healing the sickness as that shows the power of God over sickness. But glory is also brought to the name of God when by His grace a person is sustained through illness. Therefore, God uses sickness to bring glory to His name whether or not He chooses to heal the sick person.

The Abuse of Healing

When people in the church use the cross of Christ to compound the pain of those who are sick by telling them their lack of faith is the cause of they’re not being healed or that they are sick because of some sin, they are most likely misusing the cross of Christ. They become like the robbers in the following article:

Police: Robbers Used Crucifix As Weapon

Investigators Still Searching For Suspects

ORLANDO, 8:24 a.m. EDT June 22, 2001 -- Authorities are searching for two robbers who used a large wooden crucifix as a weapon in the robbery of an Orange County home Thursday. The two suspects allegedly broke into the home and then tied up the homeowner with phone cords. Both men then threatened a sleeping baby-sitter with the crucifix before leaving with several valuable items from inside the home. Orange County authorities are looking for the suspects who can be charged with armed robbery with a deadly weapon. There were no injuries, according to WKMG News. [63]

 

Disciple, we need to reach out and touch the hurting and sick with the compassion of Jesus. We are His arms of love (1 Corinthians 12-14). Someone has said that the army of God is the only army that kills its wounded. Such a statement is a sad, but unfortunately true assessment for many churches. Disciple, we need to be more like a paramedic than a policeman who comes on a scene of an accident. A paramedic comes to the scene of an accident and immediately tends to the hurting. There primary concern is treating the wounds of the victims. A policeman on the other hand is primarily concerned with the cause of the accident. He can bend over the hurting victim and interview them even if they have a compound fracture or gaping wound. Disciple, be a paramedic and leave the policing up to God. Serve in the love of Jesus.

What Should Our Attitude Toward Suffering and Trials Be?

In the Old Testament book of Daniel we find the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace because they would not bow down and worship the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzer’s idol. Instead of bowing their knee to this earthly king, they chose to be thrown into a fiery furnace and rely on God. Listen to their words:

  • Daniel 3:16-18 – “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.17 “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.18 “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”   [64]

Our God . . . Is able to deliver us . . . But if not," those are mighty big words. That is the response of faith in God. That is the response of mature faith, of those who walk close with the LORD. And do you know what? God delivered them! Their exemplary testimony had a great impact on that pagan king! (Daniel 3:19-30). These three young men of God had such a relationship with God that they believed God could deliver them but if he chose not to deliver them they would remain loyal to God anyway. They totally trusted God. Their faith was not based on what God would do for them. Their faith was based on who God was to them! Is your relationship with God based on what he will do for you? If so, then you have a very shallow relationship with God. Paul learned the depth of a "but if not" relationship with God and he learned it through a physically sick condition.

Give Glory to God For Healing

God prefers for us to seek Him for healing, not to seek out any human for the administration of a gift of healing. Paul expresses this right focus when he is inspired to write about Epaphroditus:

  • Philippians 2:25-30 – “Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”  [65]

Notice he does not take credit for the healing of Epaphroditus nor does he credit the healing to anything that Epaphroditus or anyone else has done. Paul gives God the glory for this healing. Healing is something God does and for which God should get all the glory. It was God who had mercy on Epaphroditus to heal him. The focus of Paul was on giving glory to God. In many healing ministries of present day, lip service is paid to glorifying God. The reality is that many people claiming a healing ministry are charlatans looking to profit off of a supposed healing ministry. Many such healing ministries have been discredited for being false and fake in their claims to have healed people. In these cases not only is God not given glory, but also He is discredited along with the false healers who are exposed. God does heal people today, but unfortunately, God does not always get the glory, as He should. 

The area of healing is one of the most abused areas of ministry in our day. Interestingly, Antichrist is associated with “lying wonders” and “unrighteous deception” that will lead many astray (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Could the abuses of healing we see now be the beginning of the greater deception on the horizon?

Jesus is Willing and Able to Work In A Way That Causes People To Count The Cost of Discipleship

Matthew 8:18-22 – “And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side.19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”  [66]

Great multitudes were gathering around Jesus. At this point in His ministry He had become very popular. People were coming to Him asking if they could follow Him too as His other disciples followed. Jesus is all too willing to work in the one who seeks to follow Him, but part of His work is to strip away any delusions of grandeur or shallow considerations of what discipleship is. With all the healing that Jesus was doing it may have appeared somewhat glamorous, thrilling not to mention prestigious to follow Jesus. Therefore when this potential disciple comes to Jesus to follow Him, Jesus brings him down to earth so to speak. Jesus wants the potential disciple to count the cost of such an endeavor. This is what He states in Luke’s gospel where it is written:

  • Luke 14:27-33 - “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—29 “lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 “saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’31 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?32 “Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”  [67]

It’s important that discipleship not be sugar coated. Discipleship is the most rewarding of relationships with Jesus, but it is the most costly too. Jesus is telling people that to be a disciple will require a rearrangement of priorities. The priorities of a disciple are different from that of the unsaved or even the carnal Christian. Later on in the gospel of Matthew Jesus will emphasize this by saying:

  • Matthew 16:24-26 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  [68]

The gospel of Matthew is a manual for discipleship and therefore, it is aimed at rightly portraying what discipleship is. In Matthew 8 Jesus points out two things that the inquirer needs to consider before entering the life of discipleship.

First, discipleship must take priority over affluence. The disciple must not be worldly. To be a disciple you must be willing to lay aside possessions to follow Jesus. If you are going to follow Jesus you have to be willing and open to having no security in the things of this world. Jesus in effect by saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” is that He had no roots in this world. Jesus didn’t plant Himself or lay a foundation in this world, but lived in a way that was available and undistracted from the things of this world.  Jesus kept Himself open to the movement of the Spirit. A disciple must have no priority that would hinder their availability to the Lord. If He beckons you to service, you should not hesitate, but should stand at attention and be ready to go.  Can this be said of you disciple? Or are you pouring your money and time into a money pit of a house or career? What “hole” or “nest” has your attention? If Jesus were to call you to service, or open the door of opportunity to witness for Him or serve Him in some way, would you have other concerns that would distract you from hearing that call? Do you have other priorities that distract you from following Jesus? If He calls you to serve would you respond, “Oh, okay Lord, I’m coming, but just let me finish this addition to the house.” Or, “I’m coming Lord, but just let me finish this game . . . this work . . . this goal.” Are you available to Jesus? Or does the world have you in its grip? Do you remember what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount? He said:

  • Matthew 6:19-21,24 -  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . . 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  [69]

What Jesus says to the scribe is reiterating what He had taught on the Mount.

In a related passage, the apostle John was inspired to write:

  • 1 John 2:15-16 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”  [70]

To be Jesus’ disciple means He and His work must take priority over worldly possessions and everything related to the acquirement, maintenance, and pursuit of possessions. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you need to be available, ready to serve at a moments notice, not entangled in the things of this world. When He calls, if you’re not ready, He’ll go on to the next person, you very well may lose your chance to serve the Risen Almighty Lord. What a shame it would be if that happened. Paul wrote young pastor Timothy about this when he was inspired to write:

  • 2 Timothy 2:4 – “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”  [71]

Are you available to God? Are you free to be used by Him? Or are you all entangled in the things of this world? What has your attention? Are you willing to lay down on a moments notice your interests and things at the beck and call of Jesus? Disciple, Jesus must take priority over possessions and worldly concerns. (For further study see Luke 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:25-26; 1 timothy 6:9-12; 2 Timothy 4:10; 2 Peter 2:20).

A Word On Relocation

We need to backtrack a bit at this point and return to the verses referring to the events that took place at Peter’s house. Peter was willing to move his entire family to be closer to Jesus, to be more available for ministry. Jon Courson makes an insightful comment concerning Peter’s attitude toward discipleship at this point:

“Mark tells us that Peter’s house was in Capernaum. Yet John points out in his Gospel that Peter was from Bethsaida [John 1:41]. This caught my attention and I realized that Peter moved – lock, stock, and barrel; fishing business, in-laws, the whole thing. He moved from his hometown of Bethsaida, which means, ‘House of Fishing,’ to Capernaum, where Jesus had His headquarters. Peter left the place of occupational prosperity to be closer to Jesus.

I think it would do us well to remember Peter’s example. I am concerned about the number of people who move because of business reasons, without considering if there is a group of people they can worship with and grow in the Lord with.

There was a man in the Old Testament who based the decisions as to where he would live on economic conditions. He lifted up his eyes, saw green grass, and said, ‘This is a great place for my cattle.’

The mans’ name was Lot, and he got in a Lot of trouble, because the green grass was growing right outside of Sodom and Gomorrah – a great place to raise cattle, but a lousy place to raise kids. Lot lifted up his eyes, but not high enough.

Peter did just the opposite. He said, ‘I want to be in the place where Jesus is ministering, in the place that’s most conducive for me to follow Him and serve Him and walk with Him.”[72]

Are you contemplating a move? Don’t like your neighborhood? Too expensive? Not enough amenities? Not exciting enough for you? Why are you there? Maybe, just maybe you are the one God has placed there to minister to the lost in that area. God, in His sovereign will puts people where He wants them to be (see Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8). Disciple, don’t let economic or career desires rule your decisions. Seek God in where He wants you to stay or go. Disciple, don’t move unless it puts you in a position to rely on God more by trusting Him to minister through you. Don’t consider moving from where you are, unless you’ve run out of sinners to be used by God to save!

Second, discipleship requires availability.  A disciple must be accessible, free to be used by the Lord in service. A disciple must be willing to follow now.  Jesus must be first in the disciple’s life; there is no room for procrastination when following Jesus.  One of Jesus’ disciples responded to Jesus with an oxymoron. The disciple said, “Lord, let me first.” The disciple was mistaken as He referred to Jesus with the word Lord, (which literally means “master”), and yet he followed that title with the words, “let me first.” If Jesus is Lord, He must be first, if Jesus is not first in your life, He is not Lord of your life, it’s as simply as that. The disciple expressed a desire to follow Jesus, but qualified his desire by saying he “first” wanted to go and “bury my father.” In other words, “Jesus I’ll follow you, but not now, later.”  Jesus responded to this disciple by saying that he should, “let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus expressed in His response that there needs to be an immediacy to the response to Jesus’ call to discipleship. Jesus’ response may sound a bit heartless at first glance but what the petitioner was saying was not that his father had died and he wanted to go and bury him, but that he wanted to wait until his father died and then follow Jesus. The last petitioner was putting a condition on following Jesus as well as putting discipleship in a secondary position. Neither of these attitudes is acceptable to the Lord. Following Jesus must take priority over all other responsibilities and relationships. When the opportunity to follow or serve Jesus is presented, don’t procrastinate, follow now! If Jesus is your Lord, then He can interrupt your life schedule at any time and you will stop everything and follow Him.

Do you remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount? He said:

  • Matthew 6:33-34 -  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  [73]

Again, Jesus is reiterating what He had taught earlier. If you are going to follow Him, you need to put Him first. If you put Him first, everything else will work out.

To seek Him first means you will serve first where He wants you to serve, when He wants you to serve, and how He wants you to serve. We often “hear” Jesus calling, but whether or not it truly is His call is debatable at times. Some tend to hear His call only when it suits their will and desire so that they are serving where they want to, how they want to and when they want to, they try to follow Jesus at their own convenience. That is not discipleship that is self-indulgence and religious pharisaism. Disciple, you need to crucify your self on the cross of Christ. Disciple, don’t settle for that which is less than the best that God calls you to. Cross over from the world into the way of the Lord. Go all the way with Jesus. Totally surrender to Him. Disciple, let Jesus be the Lord of your life.

Therefore, in these verses Jesus is not saying, “don’t follow Me.” In these verses Jesus is saying, “Before you follow Me, count the cost.” Disciple  count the cost of following Jesus. If you’re going to follow Jesus He must be more important to you than affluence and you must be available to His to use you. How about you disciple, is being a disciple more important to you than affluence, than keeping up with the Jones so to speak?  Are you available to Jesus for Him to use you, to disciple you, or do you have more pressing concerns? Disciple, count the cost!

Jesus is Willing and Able to Work Even When We Fear and Have Little Faith

Matthew 8:23-27 – “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”   [74]

This is a very interesting situation isn’t it? Jesus gets into a boat and is followed by His disciples. A tempest or great storm whips up on the Sea of Galilee, (storms whip up quickly on the Sea of Galilee and this is not an infrequent occurrence). Jesus calmly rests while the storm threatens to capsize the boat. His disciples rush to Jesus, wake Him up shouting, “Lord save us!” Can’t you just see Jesus kind of shake off the sleep and say to the terror stricken disciples, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arises, rebukes the winds and sea and “a great calm” comes over the area. See how Jesus is willing to work? They were fearful. They were in a state of chaos and calamity and their faith was failing them. Yet Jesus was willing to work to bring peace to them. Jesus is even willing and able to work in spite of us, our fears and our lack of faith.  

“Why Are You Fearful?”

Why do we fear? We usually fear something that we can’t control or that threatens to harm us. Fear can be paralyzing. Fear can keep us from fulfilling God’s will in our lives and fears are usually incited by the storms of life, or the potential for storms in life. Fear is the result of sin in the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, they feared God:

  • Genesis 3:9-10 – “Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”  [75]

Because sin broke the relationship Adam and Eve had with God (and the same is true of their future human generations), sinful humankind along with Adam and Eve lost the sense of God’s presence. Fear is the result of a lack of relationship with God where His comforting presence is experienced. Therefore, if a relationship with God is by faith (Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4; John 1:12; Romans 8; 10) then fear is the opposite of faith.

Fear, The Foe of Faith

Fear is the foe of faith. We are not talking of the fear-like reverence and awe that a person is to have toward Almighty God. There is a godly fear that is the fear of offending or causing the God you love any pain or shame due to unholy acts. Godly fear is a cautious concern that what I do will bring harm to the One I love. Godly fear leads to holiness in life.  Such fear is the beginning of wisdom and a very positive thing (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 14:27; Psalm 19:9).

The fear that we are talking about is the fear that paralyzes, the fear that is the result of not  trusting in God. Fear is an indication that one is not experiencing the closeness of God’s presence. We come close to God in a saving faithful relationship.

Fear can keep us from experiencing all the blessings God has for us. That this is true is seen in the circumstances of when God’s people (who He had just delivered from the Egyptians) came to the precipice of the Promised Land. Moses sent out 12 spies into the Promised Land to see what lay ahead of them. Read the passage and see the fear of ten of the spies as opposed to the faith of Joshua and Caleb:

  • Numbers 13:26-33 – “Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.27 Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.28 “Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.29 “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.33 “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”  [76]
  • Numbers 14:1-12 – “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!3 “Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.8 “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’9 “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”10 And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. 11 Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?12 “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”  [77]

Fear led the people of God to forsake God’s will for their lives. God had a Land flowing with milk and honey, luscious, beautiful, full of abundant life and blessing, and yet the fear of the obstacles or adversaries in the Land led to the people ‘s forsaking of the Lord’s plan and gift and even desiring to return to the place of bondage. Look at the contrast between these fearful forsakers and Joshua, and  Caleb. They are courageous because they trust in the Lord. Read what their heart was settled upon:

  • Numbers 14:8-9 - “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’9 “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”   [78]

Fear kept one group from the Promised Land (See Numbers 14:13-45). Faith in God led to acquiring the Promised Land for the others (See Numbers 14:24-38; 34:17-19; Joshua 14:6-13 and book of Joshua). Those who feared God were focused on the obstacles and enemies in the Land. Those who had faith were focused on God and His mighty power. Fear is the result of being out of focus with God. Faith on the other hand is focus on God and so is courageous in the strength God provides.

The Cure For Fear

What is the cure for this paralyzing fear? How can it be overcome? The answer to that is, trust in God. That may sound simple but it is profoundly true. If we revisit the conquest of the Promised Land after the fearful generation has died off as well as their leader Moses, we see that Joshua is now ordained by God to lead the next generation into the Land. If we take up this transition in Joshua 1 we see two aspects of trusting in God that dispels fear:

  • Joshua 1:1-9 – “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.6 “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.7 “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  [79]

As we read God’s words to Joshua we see that God’s exhortation to Joshua was “Be strong and of good courage . . . ” (1:6), “Only be strong and very courageous” (1:7), and “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid” (1:9). God would not have exhorted Joshua to be courageous and not fear unless Joshua feared. Joshua was human and even the most faithful of God’s servant’s fear at times.  But when we fear we need to take God’s exhortation and command to heart. As we look at these verses we see two things that God provides to deal with Joshua’s fear.

First, God fights our fear with His presence. God said to Joshua, “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (1:5). The presence of God dispels fear because if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31-32). Later we will discuss how God makes His presence known to us. But when we fear we need to remember, we are not alone. The psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). God is, “A present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). God fights our fear with His presence.

In Isaiah the prophet is inspired to write:

  • Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”  [80]

The cure for fear is the presence of God, because if God is present, any and all problems are solvable. You see God is able to solve any problem and overcome any obstacle to His will. God is able to protect us in any situation. God can do anything. For example, He can birth and heir in parents who are beyond child bearing years (Genesis 18:14). He can bring us into the Promised Land where He has purposed us to be in life (Joshua 1-5). He can bring victory in the face of humanly insurmountable odds (Judges 6-7). And when His people go astray, He is able to work to overcome their sin (Jeremiah 32:17,27). There is nothing too hard for God and so when you realize His presence, any fear related to obstacles and problems is dispelled.

Secondly, God reveals His presence to the fearful in His word. God said to Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night,” (Joshua 1:8a). Now this verse goes on to say that God wanted Joshua to observe and do all that His word said and that if he did that his way would be prosperous and successful, but there is another reason for God’s instruction to Joshua to meditate constantly on His word. God reveals Himself in His word. He reveals the history of His faithfulness and if God has been faithful in the past, we can rest assured that He will be faithful in the present and future. That’s just the way God is, He is faithful to watch over us, He is our Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10). So if you fear, go to God’s word and prayerfully read of His faithfulness to the saints and it will be an encouragement to you. Think of “encouragement” as in-courage-ment, in other words God’s intent to put His courage in you.

Ever had a sleepless night where you feared what the morning would bring? Ever feared an adversary? We don’t have to have sleepless nights paralyzed by fear, we don’t have to fear anyone or anything, we can trust in the Lord and rest in Him. Below are just a few verses to encourage the one who is being tempted to fear:

  • Psalm 3:5-6 – “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around.”  [81]
  • Psalm 27:1-3 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.”  [82]
  • Psalm 91:1-16 – “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.2 I will say of the Lord,He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”  [83]

Fear not disciple, God is with you and He has made His presence known in the most magnificent of ways, in His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the Fullness of God,  is The Full Cure For Fear

God has made His presence known most fully in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-2,14). Indeed Paul is inspired to write to the Colossians:

  • Colossians 1:19 – “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,”  [84]

God’s presence is the cure for fear and God’s presence is most fully revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus is the cure for fear in our lives. When the disciples were faced with the fearsome storm they instinctively knew where they needed to go for help, to Jesus. And when Jesus is awoken, He says, “Why are you fearful,” as much as to say, “Why are you afraid, I’m here.”  The presence of Jesus dispels fear. Now you may respond, “Wait a minute, that was then, Jesus was right there physically with them, He isn’t here physically now.”  You are right, Jesus isn’t physically here with us now as He was with the first disciples, but someday soon He will be. But while He is not with us physically, He is here with us in Spirit. At the end of Matthew’s gospel Jesus encourages the disciples after giving them the Great Commission by saying:

  • Matthew 28:20 -  “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”  [85]

Now in Acts chapter one Jesus ascends to heaven, and yet He said He would be with the disciples always. This implies that His presence is with us now in Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes the presence of Jesus known in us. Read what Jesus said about the work of the Holy Spirit in this regard:

  • John 14:15-18 - “If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  [86]

When Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Helper,” the term He uses means literally, another just like Me (Greek ALLOS – Strong’s #243). To have the Holy Spirit residing in you is to have Christ in you (Romans 8:9-11). Jesus goes on to say of the Spirit:

  • John 15:26 - “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  [87]
  • John 16:13 - “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”  [88]

The Holy Spirit brings the presence of Jesus into you and therefore dispels the fear that may be besetting you. It is the Spirit which brings the comforting words of Jesus that say:

  • Matthew 14:27 – “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”  [89]

The Spirit in you bringing the presence of Jesus to you, gives you a powerful cure for the fear that grips you.

You see, without Jesus you have much to fear. Without Jesus you can be brought to fear almost anything, tests, doctor’s appointments, meetings, the present, the future, anything. You fear because you are alone, without Christ to comfort you. We are human and even believers fear at times, but with Jesus, you have the answer to all your fears, you have Jesus. He says, “Fear not, I am with you.”  By receiving that by faith, we can overcome our fears.

Jesus is Willing and Able to Work To Defeat The Demonic Enemy

Matthew 8:24 - “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.”  [90]

We needn’t wait until the encounter of Jesus with the two demon possessed men on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, to see the attack of Satan. This storm, while allowed by God, was likely the product of our demonic enemy Satan. Why do I say this? Let’s see if there is any precedent or evidence for such a statement.

A Satanic Storm?

Who started this storm? It is very likely that Satan authored or sent this storm. There is precedent for attributing a storm to Satan. In the book of Job, Satan sends, ”a great wind,” possibly a tornado-like wind that wrecked Job’s house and killed his children (Job 1:12-19). In the book Spiritual Warfare, Brian Broderson makes the following statement:

 

“The Bible teaches that the devil has a certain degree of power over nature. It is therefore my belief that many of those things that we would glibly refer to as ‘natural disasters’ or ‘acts of God’ are actually manifestations of Satan’s work. Now, I’m not saying that every catastrophe is a result of satanic activity, but, when you consider the death and destruction that result from these things, and the subsequent blame that is generally placed upon God, I think it is valid to consider many of these events as satanically orchestrated.

[In Job 1:8-19] the fire that fell from the sky and destroyed the flocks and the servants and the wind that caused the house to collapse on Job’s children killing them were a direct result of the devil’s activity. Yet the messenger referred to the fire as ‘The Fire of God’. Satan destroys lives and then seeks to put the blame on God.

 

. . . The name ‘devil’ means slanderer or accuser. Satan stirs up the forces of nature bringing death and destruction and then accuses God of being responsible for the whole mess.” [91]

 

We should not be so quick to blame God for the storms of life. It is a perverse work of Satan to have imposed on the minds of men that the storms that wreck destruction are an act of God, when in truth they are an act of Satan to destroy. Storms cannot come without God’s sovereign approval, and in that sense they are God’s responsibility. But Satan too has his hand in the storms of life that would shake us.

Why A Storm?

 

Why would Satan send a storm? He may have desired to destroy Jesus and the disciples by the storm. He may simply have desired to disturb the tired God-Man Jesus from getting His needed rest. He may have desired to disrupt the faith of the disciples. But I believe that Satan may have deduced what was coming in the encounter of Jesus with the Gergesenes. This last purpose is not to allege that Satan had or has any omniscience or prophetic powers, he simply may have deduced that Jesus would expel his demonic cohorts when they met. Satan likely wanted to avoid the liberating work of Jesus in the two demon possessed men who lay on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

Weathering the Storms of Life

 

Matthew 8:25 – “Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  [92]

I believe that satanic storms are often sent in an attempt to block the work of God whether it is the ongoing process of faith building in the disciple, or any other victory of the Lord. In any case, we need to remember that God is faithful and will not allow the disciple to be tried beyond their ability. Paul states:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  [93]

We need to imitate the disciples in what they did when they were overtaken by this storm. Matthew tells us:

 

  • Matthew 8:25 – “Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  [94]

 

When the inevitable storms of life enter our lives, we should imitate the disciples who were in the boat and run to Jesus.

 

Here again we have the playing out practically of what Jesus taught on the Mount. Remember what He taught? He said:

 

  • Matthew 7:24-27 - “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”   [95]

Disciple, Jesus is our rock and we need to build our lives on Him. He will keep us steady in the storms of life. Jesus is our safe haven.

The Surfacing of the Unseen War

Matthew 8:28- “When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.”[96]

When Jesus and the disciples weather the storm that was likely sent by Satan to deter them, and arrive at the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they are met by two notorious demon possessed men who made their abode in the tombs or graveyard. Here we have the surfacing of the unseen spiritual war that is ever raging around us. Paul is inspired to tell us that:

  • Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  [97]

While this war usually takes placed cloaked in subtlety, at times, as we have here, it surfaces to reveal the utter darkness and violent nature of the enemies of God.

These demon-possessed men were described as “exceedingly fierce.” They terrorized the surrounding community as it states, “no one could pass that way” (compare Mark 5:1-21; Luke 8:26-40).  That these demons were able to enter these two men and that they were able to terrorize the countryside tells us that the unsaved are at the mercy of the demonic.

The Demonically Deluded World

If you are unsaved; if you have not turned to God in repentance from your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, you are deluded and under the influence of Satan. That may be a scary thought, but it is true.

When Paul went before king Agrippa and was given opportunity to share his testimony, in Paul’s response were the following words about the mission Jesus had called him to:

  • Acts 26:18 – “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”  [98]

These words of Jesus to Paul indicate that those who have yet to come to Him by faith are under the influence of the devil. In other portions of Scripture Paul is inspired to write further about this condition and says:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”  [99]

Satan “blinds” the minds of the unsaved so that they cannot even consider the truth of the gospel of God. This is why we need to pray for the unbeliever. We need to pray that God “open their eyes,” so that they can at least consider their unsaved state and be open to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read what Paul writes to young pastor Timothy:

  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  [100]

This last verse shows us that those who have yet to receive Jesus as their Savior are under the influence of Satan and ensnared by him.

Only Jesus can penetrate the blinding effects of Satan on the lost. Apart from Jesus, the unsaved are hopelessly lost in dark blindness. This truth is brought out in the following passage:

  • Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”  [101]

But what about demon possession? What is it? Does it happen today? 

Demonic Possession Today?

There are those who believe that in the Biblical accounts of instances where Jesus exorcised demons from people, that Jesus was merely accommodating Himself to the beliefs of the people of that age and that what really was happening is that Jesus was dealing with insanity or mental illness. This view implies that Jesus was less than straightforward and honest as well as denies the reality of the spiritual entities attested to by the Bible. Such a view therefore strikes a blow at the holiness of Jesus as well as the authority of the Bible.

Others believe that Jesus was mistaken in His own beliefs concerning demons and that He was really dealing with a mental illness in people. This view which is rooted in psychological theory implies that Jesus didn’t know as much as the psychologist of today. This view is rooted in a proud notion that people know more today than Jesus did in the past. This view therefore strikes at the very nature of Jesus in that it purports that He was less than omniscient. It too strikes at the authority of the Bible in that it implies the Bible is antiquated and out of touch with the “real” problems experienced by people.

That people have chemical imbalances in their brains that cause deviant behavior and illness is certain. But to admit such does not require we deny the stated truth of the Bible and Jesus that people can be and are at times possessed by demons. If we accept the Bible as the inspired, inerrant and true revelation from God, then we will accept that there are spiritual beings working against God and that at times they attack people and possess them. And if we accept this, then we must admit that this spiritual battle continues to this present day. We battle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, demonic forces of the spirit world (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

Are people demon possessed in the world today? I believe there is evidence that there are people possessed by demons today. In his book entitled Demons The Answer Book, Lester Sumrall discusses demonic possession in the world today.[102] In the first chapter of his book, Bitten by Demons, Mr. Sumrall writes of an account of demon possession which we now share in part:

On May 12, 1953, the Daily Mirror in Manila carried a highly unusual story [A story was also run in Life magazine here in the States] . . .

A city jail inmate puzzled police and medical examiners with her tale about two devils biting her . . . the girl claimed she was bitten twenty times and she shouted every time she was hurt.

In the jail . . . she talked and answered questions weakly, but sensibly, before a crowd of  observers. Suddenly her facial expressions would change to anguish and horror as if she were confronted with ‘The Thing.’ She would look wildly and then scream and struggle and hit her arms and shoulders . . . Then her strenuous resistance would cease and she would collapse into the arms of those holding her, weak and half-conscious.

After regaining her senses, she said that one of the devils was big and dark with curly hair on his head, chest and arms. He had large, sharp eyes and two fangs. His voice was a deep-echoing sound. He was shrouded in black.

She was bitten for the last time on the right knee. That was the first bite on the lower part of her anatomy. Other bite marks appear on her neck, arms and shoulders [in places it would have been impossible for bites to have been self-inflicted]. Observers insist that they are within sight all the time.

The following day the Manila Chronicle reported further news of the young woman, Clarita Villanueva:

At least twenty-five competent persons, including Manila’s chief of police, Col. Cesar Lucero, say that it is a very realistic example of a horrified woman being bitten to insanity by ‘invisible persons.’ She displayed several bite marks all over her body, inflicted by nobody as far as the twenty-five witnesses could see. . . .

Villanueva was perfectly normal between fits. After talking for a while, she would shout, have convulsions and hysterics, all the time screaming, and her eyes flashing with fire. Then she would point to a part of her body being attacked, and then fall almost senseless into the hands of investigators.  Teeth marks, wet with saliva, marked the spots she pointed at. . . .

At the time, I [Lester Sumrall] was founding a church in Manila . . . . a forty-five minute radio program [giving the account of Clarita’s condition] drew me into it personally . . . . It was impossible for me to sleep after listening to the program . . .. After praying until morning, God spoke to my heart: ‘If you will go to the jail and pray for her, I will deliver her.’ . . . At my request, we visited Mayor Lacson and gained permission for me to pray for Clarita, but on one condition. Dar. Mariano Lara, chief medical adviser of the police department, must also grant permission. . . . Dr. Lara had not intended to be drawn into the Clarita Villanueva affair . . . . [But] this baffling Filipino girl had changed Dr. Lara’s philosophy of life. He turned to me and said, ‘Reverend, I am humble enough to admit that I am a frightened man.’. . . I turned to the Gospel of Mark and read, ‘’And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall cast out devils’ (Mark 16:17). Do you believe this?’ I asked. Dr. Lara looked at me and said, ‘I believe, but who will help us?’  . . . I told him I would be glad to go and pray for the girl if he would permit it. He said I would be welcome. I requested that no medication be given her during the time I would be praying for her and that no other groups be permitted to pray for her or offer assistance in any way. If Jesus healed her, He must have all the glory. He agreed, and an appointment was made for me to return the following morning. I fasted the rest of the day, spending the time in prayer and reading the Word of God.

On the first morning, . . . upon seeing the police officers, newspapermen, and photographers who were gathered, I could almost hear the devil whispering, ‘Just as I told you! Now you have made a fool of yourself!’ . . . We . . .assembled in a small chapel for women prisoners, there must have been a hundred spectators including prisoners . . . . After we all gathered in the chapel, Dr. Lara asked that Clarita be brought in. She observed each person slowly and closely as she entered the room. When she came to me at the end of the line, her eyes widened and she glared at me saying, ‘I don’t like you!’ These were the first words the devil spoke through her lips to me. The demons used her lips constantly to curse me, to curse God, and to curse the blood of Christ. She did this in English, yet after she was delivered I had to converse with her through an interpreter, as she could not speak English.

‘Clarita,’ I said, ‘ I have come to deliver you from the power of these devils in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ . . . .  she went into a fit of rage, screaming, ‘No, no! They will kill me!’. . . Taking hold of her head with both hands I cried, ‘Come out of her, you evil and wicked spirit of hell. Come out of her in Jesus’ name!’ Immediately she began to rage again. . . With tears flowing down her cheeks she begged me to leave her alone; she showed me terrible marks on her arms and neck where she had been bitten that moment. I was shocked . . . . The devils would curse God and I would demand them to quit and tell them God is holy. Then they would curse the blood of Jesus and I rebuked them, reminding them that he is the Master over every evil power and that His blood is holy. Then they cursed me in the vilest language. They declared they would never leave. It seemed like the powers of darkness and the powers of righteousness were in deadly conflict. I was just the mouthpiece for righteousness. Clarita was the mouthpiece of the devil. Undoubtedly the noise could be heard for some distance in the prison.

Finally it seemed that the girl was relieved. The devils refused to talk to me or bite her. Some of those present thought she was delivered, but I told them she was not. It was nearly noon and I was soaked with perspiration and nearly exhausted. When I looked around I saw several of the people with tears in their eyes, moved with the things they had seen.

I told Dr. Lara that I desired to go home and fast and pray for another day, and then return the following morning. That day was spent in communion with God. It was precious. I could feel God’s presence hovering over me, urging me not to be afraid . . . . That night, Rev. Arthur Ahlberg and Rev. Robert McAllister visited us at home and offered to go with me the following day . . . .

Upon arrival at Belibid the following morning, the captain of the prison said Clarita had not been bitten since the prayer. But I knew she was not yet delivered. This became evident as soon as the devils saw me. Through her lips they cried, ‘Go away! Go away!’  . . . . I sat on the same small chair in front of her and spoke back with a thrilling feeling of authority. ‘No, I am not going away, but you are going away! This girl will be delivered today!’. . . Then I requested every person present to kneel . . . The battle began again. They cursed and held on to their victim, begging permission to stay in her . . . . That additional time of fasting and prayer had made the difference . . . . . I felt the release and knew they had departed. Clarita relaxed. The demon look departed from her eyes. She smiled. I looked around and noticed that reporters were weeping; there were tears in the eyes of doctors; hard-boiled jailors were also weeping. I could now see how terrific the battle had been. Softly I began to sing with brothers Ahlberg and McAllister:

            Oh, the blood of Jesus, Oh, the blood of Jesus, Oh, the blood of Jesus,        

That washes white as snow!

. . . We were ready to leave when suddenly, like a flash of lightening, the devils reappeared. The girl screamed and her eyes changed. I said to them, ‘Why have you returned? You know you must go and not return.’ . . . they replied, ‘But she is unclean. We have the right to live in her.’ I answered them in a determined voice. . . .They had no power to resist. They left, and she became normal again. I explained to her what had happened and got her to pray with me for the forgiveness of her sins.  . . . I explained to her why they had returned and demanded her to tell them to leave and not return. This she did. Then I taught her to pray and plead the blood of Jesus against them.  . . . As I was leaving I told Clarita that I was sure these devils would return.  . . . ‘they will come. Then you must demand them to leave without my being present. You must say, ‘Go, in Jesus’ name,’ and they will obey.’ . . . .

I went to visit her twice [later] and found her overjoyed at our coming . . . This was [now] a perfectly normal Filipino girl who had recovered from the nightmare of demon possession.’” [103]

This is a true story and it occurred in our day.

Symptoms of Demon Possession

What are the symptoms of demon possession? How can we know if someone is demon possessed? When we look at the Biblical accounts of demonic possession we see the following symptoms:

  • A person demonically possessed is under the influence and indwelt by a demon (Matthew 28; Mark 5:2). Apparently demons seek out bodies to inhabit (Matthew 12:43-45).
  • A person demonically possessed exhibits an unusual fierceness and violence (Matthew 8:28).
  • A person demonically possessed exhibits unusual strength and physical power (Mark 5:3).
  • A person demonically possessed exhibits fits of rage (Mark 5:4).
  • A person demonically possessed will often be self-destructive (Mark 5:5).
  • A person demonically possessed will show signs of split personality such as the man who ran to worship at Jesus feet, but then the demon cries out to Jesus (Mark 5:6-7).
  • A person demonically possessed is repulsed to and resistant to Jesus (Matthew 8:29; Mark 5:7).
  • A person demonically possessed appears to have a sensibility to Jesus and discernment as to who does and who does not belong to Jesus (Matthew 8:29; Mark 5:7; Acts 19:13-20).
  • A person demonically possessed may demonstrate a variation in voice. Legion spoke “with a loud voice,” as many demons from out of the one man (Mark 5:7,9).

These are characteristics gleaned from observations of God’s revealed accounts of demon possession. Judas was apparently demon possessed at some point (John 13:2, 27).

Demonic Influence versus Demonic Possession

In his book entitled Demons In The World Today, Merrill F. Unger distinguishes between demonic influence and demonic possession by saying:

“In demon influence, evil spirits exert power over a person short of actual possession. Such influence may vary from mild harassment to extreme subjugation when body and mind become dominated and held in slavery by spirit agents. Christians as well as non-Christians can be so influenced.  They may be oppressed, vexed, depressed, and hindered, bound by demons.”

Demon possession is a condition in which one or more evil spirits or demons inhabit a body of a human being and can take complete control of their victim at will . . . . The inhabiting demon(s) come and go much like the proprietor of a house who may or may not be at ‘home.’”  [104]

Demonic Influence In The World

Is there any doubt that Satan has a hand in such horrific activity as abortion, partial birth abortion, serial killings and genocide? Within the last month of this writing a mother systematically drowned in the bathtub her five young children. The press is linking the act with post par tem depression, but can there be any doubt that Satan has had a hand in this?! In these instances we have demonic influence if not demonic possession at work.

When we look at the influence and work of Stan in the Bible we see him connected to the following activities:

Satan wants to get people to disregard and disobey God’s word. This is what he did with Adam and Eve and look at the effect his successful work has wrought on the world (Genesis 3).

 

Satan wants to get people to depend on their flesh, their own strength. We see this in the way Satan attacked Jesus. When Satan tempted Jesus, he tried to get Jesus to indulge self-preservation, self-adulation, and self-achievement (Matthew 4:1-11).

 

Satan wants people to murder and lie, to steal kill and destroy (John 8:44; 10:10).

 

Satan wants people to act immorally (Luke 17:28-30; Romans 1:24,26-27).

 

Satan wants people to focus on material things (1 Timothy 6:10).

 

Satan wants people to follow false “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

 

Satan’s goal and ambition is to destroy God and anything or anyone associated with Him.

 

Demonic Influence In the Life of the Believer

The Bible does not teach that believers can be possessed by demons, but demons can influence believers from without.  Suffice it to say that the indwelling Christ is greater than the attacking demonic forces in regards to the believer (1 John 4:4). The Bible says that if the believer resists the devil, he must flee (James 4:7). God will crush Stan under the feet of the believer (Romans 16:20). We need not fear being possessed by demons if we are in a saving relationship with Jesus. We do however; need to always be aware of the spiritual attacks of the enemy.

Remember Job; his life was greatly influenced by the attack of the devil (see Job). Jesus warned Peter that Satan was after him, but comforted him that Jesus was praying for him:

  • Luke 22:31-32 – “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.32 “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”   [105]

Peter later was inspired to write of our need to be cautiously aware of Satan’s devices. Peter wrote:

  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”  [106]

Have you ever awoke in a bad mood? Ever been depressed for no good reason? Perhaps demonic spirits are assailing you. We need to guard against finding demons under every rock, but we also need to be aware that demons are real and they want to influence people against God.

Paul tells us to take our thoughts captive, or bring them under control by way of our relationship with Jesus. He is inspired to say this in his letter to the Corinthians where he states:

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”  [107]

Satan is after the believer to bring shame to the cross of Christ and our Lord Jesus by bringing down the believer morally or in other ways. We need to resist the enemy steadfast in our faith in Jesus. Read the following comment by Lester Sumrall on this issue. He speaks of a Sunday school teacher who came to him for prayer because she was being influenced by demonic forces. She confessed that she had been going to X-rated movies. Sumrall made the following assertion:

This opened an avenue of thinking to me. I began to understand that when a Christian goes into the devil’s territory, unless intending to do battle and rescue lost souls, that Christian becomes vulnerable to whatever Satan offers, . . . . 

While Louise and I lived in Hong Kong we never feared Communist China. From our apartment we could see the harbor where the American Seventh Fleet had its aircraft carriers, destroyers, and many submarines. When we would go about the city, at certain places we could see large numbers of crack British troops and large guns. We felt secure as long as we stayed within the borders of Hong Kong.

At one place where there is a bridge a sign was posted that said, ‘Communist China ahead of you. Do not advance further unless you have credentials to do so.’ I had ventured to the border and entered Red China; I would have cancelled my right to protection by American and British forces. The same is true of Christian living. When you play with sin you can cancel not your salvation, but the covering of the blood to keep Satan from doing as he pleases.”[108]

Disciple, if you are indulging in sinful activity, understand that you are in Satan’s territory and in great danger. Besides not wanting to bring pain to the heart of our loving heavenly Father by indulging in sinful behavior, the danger of treading in Satan’s territory should be an additional incentive to live a holy life.

Demonic Possession versus Mental Illness

We need to comment here on mental illness. Mental illness in this teacher’s opinion is not the broad expansive network of conditions that are constantly proliferating at the behest of psychologists. Mental illness here is defined as a physical cause of abnormal thinking processes. Much of what is classified, as “mental illness” today is nothing more than sin and the flesh. Mental illness is a physical non-volitional condition whereby a chemical imbalance or injury or other physical defect results in the inability of the brain to process correctly thoughts leading to actions. Therefore, what is the difference between a person who is mentally ill and a person who is demon possessed? A few observations can be made here. If one prays in the presence of a mentally ill person, they will usually calm down. Whereas, when in the presence of a demon possessed person, prayer in the name of Jesus will elicit a violent response.  A mentally ill person may respond to chemical or surgical intervention, whereas, a demon possessed person will not. (The demon may give the appearance of responding to medicine or surgery to cloak their presence – see John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.) A demon-possessed person may exhibit seeming clairvoyant ability to expose inconsistencies in the one ministering to them. A mentally ill individual does not have this capacity. Keep in mind that Jesus is able to heal either the mentally ill person or the demon-possessed person. We need to rely on the Spirit to help us discern between the two in order to minister to their needs effectively and in love.

Dealing With The Devil – Appropriating The Authority of Jesus Over Demonic Forces

This passage in Matthew 8 also shows us that Jesus has authority over demonic forces. These two demon possessed men were fierce but they had to submit to Jesus. Later in the gospel of Matthew Jesus makes an interesting comment as it relates to dealing with the devil. He says:

  • Matthew 12:29 - “Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.”  [109]

We have already seen the influence of Satan in the world and especially in the life of the unbeliever. Through prayer Satan’s influence must be bound before a person can be freed to accept the truth of God. It is in prayer that we utilize the authority we have in Jesus to knock down the strongholds of the devil and take the ground that is promised to us by God. Disciple, appropriate through prayer the authority and power of Jesus over the enemy.

 In the Bible we are given many verses about the authority of Jesus over the demonic realm:

  • Romans 16:20 – “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”  [110]
  • Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  [111]
  • James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  [112]
  • 1 John 3:8 – “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  [113]
  • 1 John 4:4 – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  [114]

Notice, we do not fight the devil in our own strength but in the authority and strength of Jesus. In Christ, (i.e. in our saving personal relationship with Jesus) in the authority that He possesses, because of His work on the cross, we can resist the devil and his dominions victoriously. This is made perfectly clear by Paul’s inspired words to the Colossians where he states:

  • Colossians 2:13-15 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  [115]

While we are given authority over devils through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we should never seek to proudly pick a fight with the devil. In the authority of Jesus’ name we can do battle with Satan. On our own we would be in big trouble with this fierce foe.

Picking Fights With Demons

A word of caution here, it would not be advisable to go demon hunting or to face these dark forces apart from having a saving relationship with God in Christ. Our protection and power against such dark legions comes form our Savior Jesus Christ. Someone has wisely said, when Satan comes knocking at your door, ask Jesus to answer it.

On one occasion in the Bible we are given an account of some itinerant exorcists who tried to exorcise a demon from a man by using the name of Jesus without having a personal saving relationship with Him. Read what happened:

  • Acts 19:13-20 – “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”  [116]

Jesus has authority over the forces of evil led by Satan. In the case of the two possessed men from Gadara, the demons even had to ask to enter the herd of swine, (the first production of deviled ham!) But something is interesting here, why would the demons want to enter the pigs?

Preparing For The Inevitable Battle

Satan and his demonic hoards will always try to get the eyes of people off of God’s work and onto things. He’ll even try to get disciples distracted with the things of this world. And Satan and his hoards will use many other devious devices to sidetrack and undermine the work of God in the world. How can the disciple prepare to fight this spiritual battle? Here are a few things we should do and be aware of to fight in this spiritual war.

Know Your Enemy

Any good soldier who plans battle strategy includes as much information about their enemy as possible. In war, battles are won and lost based to a great extent on the knowledge of the opponent’s strength, weaknesses and tendencies.  If you don’t know your enemy, you may under or over prepare for the battle. In sports teams prepare for their opponents by watching films and becoming aware of their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and match-ups so they can construct an effective game plan. A weaker team can overcome a stronger team with the right amount of preparation. While we are not weaker than Satan because of our strength and authority in Jesus, we still need to know our adversary so as to plan an effective strategy to take back the souls of the lost who he holds in a death grip. We need to know our enemy. What do we know about Satan? [117]

First, Satan is not equal with God; Satan is no match for God. Satan is a created being and as such is no match for the omnipotent Almighty God who has no beginning or ending (Isaiah 57:15). Satan must submit to the authority of God and must get permission from God for all that he does (see Job 1-2).

Second, Satan is not omnipresent; he cannot be in more than one place at a time. This means that it is more common for us to be attacked by Satan’s demonic representatives than by Satan himself. It’s doubtful we will ever meet Satan, other than to see him at the Great White Throne Judgment and comment about how such a little being could have caused so much trouble (Isaiah 14:16-17).

Third, Satan is not omniscient; he does not know everything.  Because of this Satan makes mistakes. God thwarts Satan’s plans. Satan does not know the future. This is why occult prognosticators are so often wrong when they predict the future. God is able to take what Satan meant for evil and turn it out for His good (Romans 8:28).

Fourth, Satan is not omnipotent; he is limited in what he can do. Whatever he does has to be permitted by God. He cannot go beyond his created nature as an angel.

Fifth, Satan is normally invisible. Because he is invisible, he (and demons who are similarly invisible) can enter a being and not be seen doing so such as was the case with Judas (Luke 22:3). But, if holy angels can materialize and be seen (Matthew 28:2,3,5-7; Luke 1:11-20; John 20:12), it is likely that Satan and demons can do the same as well. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that Satan “transforms himself into an angel of light”:

  • 2 Corinthians 11:14 – “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”  [118]

This is a very important aspect of Satan’s nature and plans given the next truth about him.

Sixth, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). If he can transform himself into a seemingly good being (i.e. “angel of light”), then we must not trust apparitions, materializations, or beings that say they are “God,” “Jesus,” “Mary,” a saint, a ghost or spirit of the dead, or someone else, (see 1 Samuel 28:4-25). Everyone one and everything has to be scrutinized through the lens of God’s word. Paul said:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”  [119]

Seventh, Satan seeks to usurp God’s authority and Lordship over the universe. Satan wants to rule the universe and for this cause he was cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15). On earth, he seeks to rule like a tyrant over anyone who does not submit to the Lordship of God in Christ. And as we have seen, Satan does have authority over anyone who does not receive Jesus as Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:1-5). Satan wants to put people into bondage to do his evil and sinful will.

Eighth, Satan must be a proud maniacal being. The prophet Ezekiel was inspired to write of Satan and described him as having been created a beautiful, “model of perfection,” angelic being. But rather than be satisfied with his position of closeness to God, he was lifted up in pride until he lost reason and sought to rebel against God. Only a maniacal being drunk with pride would attempt to fight against Almighty God, Creator of the universe! Once fallen, Satan is described as violent, sinful, disgraced, expelled from heaven, corrupted (Ezekiel 28:11-17). Satan may have a genius like intellect, but he is mad with pride and living under delusions of grandeur.

Last, Satan is a defeated foe. Satan is defeated; he was defeated on the cross of Christ. What we are fighting now are the left over battles of a defeated despot who doesn’t want to go off the scene easily. Satan will fight to the bitter end, but the war has been won. We can look forward with certainty to Satan’s judgment as it states in the Bible:

  • Isaiah 14:15 – “Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.”  [120]
  • Colossians 2:14-15 – “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  [121]
  • Revelation 20:10 – “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  [122]

In his book entitled Satan’s Devices, Robert Morey states that Satan and demons are capable of and characterized by the following:

  • Teleportation - Traveling through space from one place to another in an instant as in the case of Satan moving from the earth to the heavenly setting in the presence of God (Job 1:6-7).
  • Visible manifestations – Satan is able to “transform” himself into “an angel of light” or type of wolf in sheep’s clothing (2 Corinthians 11:14).
  • Apportation – This is the moving of material objects including persons. Satan was able to move Jesus into the holy city and up to a high mountain (Matthew 4:5,8).
  • Levitation – Moving objects or people defying gravity as when Satan moved Jesus and set Him on the pinnacle of the Temple (Matthew 4:5).
  • Visions - Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8).
  • Predicting the future - Satan tries to copy God by predicting the future only he gives false predictions. Satan attempts this through astrologers, palm reading, Ouiji boards, crystal balls, and a host of other occultic methods but the underlying aim is to misguide people away from the Lord. The standard for determining whether or not a prophecy is from God or not is 100% accuracy (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
  • Matter transformation – When Moses and Aaron encountered Pharaoh and threw down Aaron’s staff to show him the power of God when the staff turned into a snake, Pharaoh’s two court magicians were also able to transform their staff’s into snakes, although Moses snake-staff swallowed up the other two snake–staffs.  (Exodus 7:8-13).
  • Counterfeit miracles – The End Times will be characterized by “power, signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
  • Spontaneous combustion – Satan can apparently call down fire from the sky (Job 1:16; Revelation 13:13).
  • Demonic possession – The two demoniacs are evidence of this (Matthew 8:28-34).
  • Demonic oppression – Paul discusses what appears to be demonic oppression or influence of believers by the devil  (2 Timothy 2:26).
  • Plant thoughts – David was moved by Stan to number his troops and depend on his own strength rather than God’s (1 Chronicles 21:1). Peter confessed Christ as Messiah in one breath (Matthew 16:13-20) and then was infiltrated with a Satanic thought against the mission of Christ in the next breath (Matthew 16:22-23).
  • Power to kill – Satan had Job’s children killed (Job 1:13-19). Paul speaks of turning over an immoral person to Satan, “for the destruction of the flesh” in hopes that this would shake the unrepentant sinner to their senses leading to the salvation of their soul (1 Corinthians 5:5).
  • Hinder understanding – Stan blinds the minds of the unsaved (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). See above also.
  • Cause physical illness – Manny illnesses healed by Jesus are attributed to the work of Satan (Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:32-34; 9:17).
  • Cause mental illness – The Gadarene demoniac was mentally tortured by demons as after the removal of the demons the healed man is described as being, “in his right mind” (Mark 5:1-15)
  • Incite opposition to God – A sorcerer incited opposition to Saul and Barnabus (Acts 13:6-12)
  • Remove or snatch the word of God via distraction – The word that is spread on the out to be planted in the hearts of people is sometimes snatched up before it can take route, likely by distractions brought on by Satan (Matthew 13:19).
  • Manipulate weather – Satan can affect the weather and cause it to storm (Job 1:18-19; Mark 4:35-39). See above.
  • Hinder answer to prayer as with Daniel – Daniel prayed and fasted and when the answer was finally brought the delay was explained as caused by the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” a reference to a demonic being (Daniel 10:12-14, 20-21).
  • Tempt to do evil – While temptations come from our own sinful lusts (James 1:1:14), but Satan is also involved in the tempting process (1 Thessalonians 3:5).
  • Invents false religions and heretical ideas - Behind false religions and heresies is the devil who is trying to mislead people with alternatives to Jesus as the only way to salvation (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3).
  • Control animals - The pigs were moved to go over the cliff (Mark 5:12-13).
  • Counterfeit healings - If Satan and demons can bring disease, and then by giving a disease and then taking it away they can counterfeit a healing.
  • Satan can produce speaking in tongues that is unholy such as that found in many cults and occultic groups, e.g. early Mormons, Aryan cult, The Way International.
  • Manipulate finances to bring riches that distract from God or ruin that brings blame to God (see Job).
  • Incite disunity – Peter attributed the lying deception of Ananias and Sapphira to the work of Satan (Acts 5:3). Certainly Satan wants to divide the church in order to weaken its ranks and make it more vulnerable (Acts 6; 1 and 2 Corinthians). God can take such attempts to divide and turn them out for His good as with the first missionaries (Acts 15:36- 16:1 ff.).
  • Cause depression – The context in Peter’s epistle indicates that Satan is closely connected to depression in people  (1 Peter 5:6-9).
  • Buffet believers – Paul was buffeted by Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7).
  • Facilitate occultic practices such as necromancy – Satan is closely involved in the occult and therefore God prohibits the believer’s involvement with it (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Demons can wreck havoc through the deception of “familiar spirits” or assuming the personages of deceased persons. This was likely the case when king Saul in the Old Testament went to the witch of Endor for advice (1 Samuel 28). People do not become ghosts when they die; they go directly to initial judgment (Hebrews 9:27). “Ghosts” are familiar demonic spirits who are manipulating people in their sorrow and grief. Demons are ruthless and will stoop to any means to mislead and bring false hope to people.
  • Involvement in sexual encounters such as that which preceded the Flood (Genesis 6:2; compare with Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psalm 29:1 where angelic beings are called “sons of God.”)[123]

If all of this can be done by Satan and his demons, how can the disciple withstand such forces?

Trust in God and Use The Weapons He Gives You

The only way to fight this spiritual fight victoriously is to trust God and use the “spiritual” weapons He provides us.  Earlier we quoted from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians in which he was inspired to write:

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,”  [124]

We must rid ourselves of the view of Christianity as a passive monastic-like life where one sits quietly as the world crumbles around us and souls pass over the edge of a cliff of destiny into eternal hell fire. No, the Christian is a soldier at war for the Lord. We do not fight with “carnal” or worldly, fleshly methods or tools, but we do fight. We fight with the weapons God provides which are “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”

What are the weapons God provides the Christian soldier? We have to look to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where Paul was inspired to describe such spiritual weaponry. In Ephesians six it states:

  • Ephesians 6:10-18 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” [125]

Without relying on the Lord and putting on His armor, we will be susceptible to the deceptions and devices of the enemy. Notice first Paul exhorts believers to “be strong in the Lord.” We do not enter this battle in our own strength for to do so would be suicide. We fight in the power of God and His authority.

When it comes to putting on the armor, we need to put all the armor on for leaving anyone one piece off exposes the believer to a satanic swipe (6:13). God has provided truth to hold all of His armor in place like a belt that holds all of our clothes in place (6:14a). To “gird” oneself meant to prepare to move quickly. You see the garments of the people of the day were long robe-like pieces. To run in a long flowing robe would be like a bride on her wedding day trying to run in her gown, a disaster waiting to happen. Therefore, the man girding up their loins reached down between their legs and grabbed the read bottom portion of their robe and brought it up to their front waist and tucked it into their belt. The belt of truth is the piece that holds all the other pieces of armor in place. It is essential for the warrior of God to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) because without the truth in love the other pieces of armor are greatly weakened. 

God protects our hearts with a breastplate of righteousness in Christ. Satan aims his “darts” or fiery doubt missiles directly at our hearts (6:14b) Satan and his demons want to discourage you by attacking your righteous standing before God. He’ll shoot you with impressions in your heart that you are a dirty rotten sinner unworthy to be used by God. Satan will try to separate and isolate you from the body of Christ with such notions. If he can divide the body of Christ, he can if not conquer it, greatly limit its effectiveness. But the believer is not righteous because of anything he or she does, a believer is righteous because of what Jesus has done on the cross and that is what needs to cover the heart of the soldier of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God protects our feet with gospel boots so that we can march in peace thought the battle rages around us (6:15). Satan will try to strewn shards of glass and tacks of trials along our path and if we are not walking in the gospel of God’s peace in Christ we’ll be hopping in pain (See Romans 5:1f.). We also need to understand that the gospel of peace is not only for us, but it is to free the lost souls held prisoner by the enemy.  We need to be prepared to share the gospel with the lost to liberate them form the clutches of the enemy (Acts 28:16). March on with the gospel!

Most importantly he tells us that we need to hold up the shield of faith, which enables the soldier of God to ward off the fiery spears thrown by Satan (6:16). The Roman army was one of the most effective and victorious armies in history. The tactics of the Romans military were incredible. One tactic pertinent for us was that of the turtle formation. Romans soldiers had shields that were nearly as tall as a soldier and wide enough for a soldier to hide behind in battle. But even the best designed shield left a soldier who stood alone vulnerable from above, behind and from either side. The Romans therefore designed a formation to march into the battle with that brought full protection to the soldiers. Soldiers would form a tight line at the front of this formation linking their shields together so that no arrows could break through to reach them. The row of soldiers behind them would hold their shields over the heads of the soldiers. Soldiers on the sides of the formation would also link up their shields, as well as those in the rear row. The soldiers would stagger their places so that all the men in the turtle formation were covered with a shell of shields that protected them from the enemy archers. As long as they stayed together in this formation, the arrows shot at them would glance off the shields and they could march on and storm the enemy lines in the turtle formation. In the same way, Satan wants to divide and separate the soldiers of God’s army church so as to put them in a position of being vulnerable and exposed to his arrows. The church, as long as we stand together with our shields of faith, we are impregnable to the fiery arrows of Satan. Do you see how important the shield of faith is and how important it is that we stick together and not give in to the attempts of Satan to divide and conquer us?

Our minds are protected and assured by the helmet of salvation (6:17a). It is important that we not only know about Jesus (demonic type of assent – see below), but that we know Jesus, have faith in Jesus. Salvation involves our understanding of the teachings of God’s word. Salvation enables us to know Whom we believe in (2 Timothy 1:12).  In Christ we take every thought captive so that we can march on with a “good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:5) and a  “sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Clarity of thought and alertness is essential to the soldier marching in battle.

Until now our weaponry has been mostly defensive, now we are given an offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, His holy Word (6:17b).  God has not called his army to be on the defensive, but to go on the offensive. When Jesus first described His church He said, “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Now think about this, does Satan attack us with the “gates of Hades”? Does he come at us with gates? Have you ever been attacked by a gate or had to defend against someone with a gate in hand? No, of course not, the army of God is to go on the offensive and storm the gates of hell with the sword of the Lord, His word. Disciple, with Jesus description of the church He is sounding the trumpet blast that means CHARGE!  With God’s word in hand and heart and mind, we can attack the enemy with assurance of victory.

Once the armor is on, the soldier of God needs to keep in touch with His Commander in prayer (6:18; Joshua 5:13-15). There is no war like this war because we know who wins this war, Jesus. We can therefore be confident as we fight. There are still pockets of the enemies’ resistance who need to be exposed and dealt with, but their hope of victory is gone for Jesus has overcome them (Colossians 2:14-15).

But there is one last thing we can learn from this incident in Matthew 8 involving the demon-possessed men.

Demonic Faith

Matthew 8:29-34 – “And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.  [126]

Notice the demons speaking from the possessed men recognized the power and authority of Jesus to throw them in the pit of hell. They believed Jesus was the “Son of God,” (8:29), but would have ripped His head off if they could have. They ascribed authority to Jesus to “torment us” (8:29). The “time” referred to here by the demons is the end time when Jesus throws Satan and his demons into the pit of hell (Revelation 19:20).

This is interesting because at this point the demons seem to have a more informed faith than the disciples do based on their last statement of astonishment by the disciples regarding  Jesus which was, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”   (8:27).  The demons know who Jesus is, the “Son of God.” But the belief of the demons about Jesus and who He was only led to their further attempts to manipulate the situation and deceive people.

The Plan of Demon Possessed Pigs

It is possible that the demons had a motive for entering the pigs. Their strategy may have been to negatively impact the pig farming industry of the area and created negative public opinion for Jesus amongst the farmers. Now pork was absolutely forbidden and absolutely illegal for Jews and so this was probably a black market type of setup. If this were the strategy of the demons, why would Jesus play along with it? Perhaps Jesus allowed this to present the people of the area with a situation of decision. They would have to decide between Jesus and their pig industry. Unfortunately they chose the pigs.

Once given permission to enter the pigs, the demons ran them over a cliff and killed them all. Even though two terrifying demon-possessed men were liberated and the security of the area restored, the benefactors of the work of Jesus cared more about their financial losses. They begged Jesus to leave before any more of their precious pigs were lost. They were probably also concerned that this great work of God would bring attention to their illegal business. This is a sad statement on the people of this area. They cared more about pigs than the power of God. They cared more about possessions than the prophetic fulfillment in Christ. This situation brings to mind the words of Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount when He said:

  • Matthew 7:6 - “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”  [127]

What a sad state of affairs when people will choose pigs over Jesus! We see therefore, that the people of Gadara have a similar faith to that of the demons in that they  saw for themselves what Jesus had done, but rather than repent and turn to Jesus for salvation, they urged Jesus to leave because they cared more for their local economy of pig farming than they did for the spiritual power and victory that Jesus was offering. But people very often choose eternally worthless things over the eternal saving relationship with Jesus. Careers will end, homes, cars, clothes, material things will burn, even earthly relationships will end, and yet all of these and more are often chosen over Jesus. Satan uses these distractions to sink people’s souls into the abyss. We are in a battle for men’s souls. How can we prepare for this battle?

Demon Assent versus Saving Faith

This shows us that mere assent or head knowledge about Jesus does not save, saving faith is more than mere assent. The demons knew who Jesus was and the pig farmers of Gadara knew what Jesus had done, but in neither case did the belief result in any redemptive end. Demonic faith believes something about Jesus; saving faith trusts  in Jesus. (FAITH – Forsaking-All-I-Trust-Him)

The distinction between demonic and saving faith is made clear in the epistle of James. Indeed, James writes in his epistle:

  • James 2:19 – "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”  [128]

The faith that saves is characterized by a life changing impact on the recipient. We need to look at the context in which James is inspired to make this statement about demonic faith. James’ teaching on the relationship between faith and works (i.e. application of God’s word in life) is as follows: 

  • James 2:14-26 – “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”   [129]

Now this is not to say that our works save us; Paul lays this notion to rest when he writes:

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  [130]

We are not saved by anything we do. We don’t have to jump through religious hoops to earn salvation from God. Indeed, this is an impossibility that only leads to frustration and failure. We all, in our own strength and effort, fall short of God’s glory, His standard and requirement to enter heaven (John 16:8-11; Romans 3:23). But God does have a purpose for works. Notice that Paul follows these verses with the following statement:

  • Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  [131]

God has created us to do “good works.” Therefore, if we are truly created by God, this will be evidenced by partaking in the good works God has created us to do. You see works are the evidence that prove the authenticity of our faith. Martin Luther is believed to have said, “We are not saved by our works, but the faith that saves works. The Salvation Army stalwart William Booth echoed the sense of the relationship between faith and works when he stated:

Faith and works should travel side-by-side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other. [132]

In light of this we can assert that saving faith is more than mere assent to a proposition about Jesus. Demonic faith assents to a belief but does not have any impact or effect toward altering one’s actions or life practices to submit to Jesus. Saving faith connects a person personally with God so that a change of life takes place. Saving faith opens the door for the new life of Jesus Christ as Lord to enter a person. This is shown in the following verses:

  • Romans 6:4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  [133]
  • Romans 10:8-10 – “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  [134]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  [135] (See Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:1-17).

How is your faith? Is it more like demonic faith or saving faith? Have you been deluded into thinking that you can merely repeat a few words in a sinner’s prayer and march on your merry way with salvation while experiencing no change within or without you? The Sermon on the Mount showed us that saving faith is more than an outward expression; it is a matter of the heart. But if a work has been truly done in the heart of a person via saving faith, that inner work will show itself with outward fruitfulness and change.

Rejecting Jesus Brings Rage

These pig farmers were not the only ones to reject Jesus. Many people rejected Jesus, even people from His own hometown who should have known better. What we see often is that those who reject Jesus are characterized by a raging. Read what Luke was inspired to write about the rejection of Jesus by those in Nazareth:

  • Luke 4:16-30 – “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.25 “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;26 “but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.27 “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”  [136]

Jesus came to Nazareth preaching the gospel (Luke 4:16-19). At first they  “bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” (Luke 4:22a). But then they added, “Is this not Joseph’s Son?” (Luke 4:22b).  They marveled and were impressed by His gracious words, but they rejected Jesus. And their rejection by Jesus led to a raging wrath (Luke 4:28) that moved them to try and throw Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:29). Jesus simply passed through the crowd of raging rejecters (Luke 4:30). It seems undeniable that Satan had some hand in this raging mob that sought to throw the Son of God off a cliff. Satan is full of rage and a violent being (Ezekiel 28:16; Revelation 12:17). Have you ever witnessed to someone only to be raged at? Have you ever witnessed to a co-worker, who rejects Jesus, and then goes on a mission in the office to discredit you and your gospel message? This is demonically linked. Disciple be ready, put God’s armor on; be aware, not scared of Satan’s devices, and fight on.

Conclusion

Jesus is willing able to work in and through you disciple (8:1-2). He wants to touch your life (8:3) He is willing and able to work in hopeless situations (8:2) and even though we are not worthy of His working (8:5-8). Jesus is willing to work in us and does so in unexpected ways at times (8:13). Even when we can’t physically serve He is willing and able to work (8:14-15). When He works in and through us He does so to fulfill His word (8:16-17). When we need to be healed Jesus is willing to work in and through us whether it be by healing us or showing the sufficiency of His grace even when He chooses to not heal us (8:16-17). When Jesus works in and through us, He does it in a way that causes us to count the cost (8:18-22). Even when we are fearful, Jesus is willing to work in and through us (8:23-27). Finally, Jesus is willing and able to work to defeat the demonic enemy (8:28-31). Jesus is willing to work in and through you disciple. Don’t doubt His willingness, don’t fear it, but rather rejoice in it and step forward in the presence of God. Disciple, are you willing to surrender to His willful work in and through you?

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew vol. 1 (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Publishing) 1993. p. 198.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15] Jon Courson, Ibid. p. 198-199

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8007

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8007

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63] http://www.mycfnow.com/orlpn/news/stories/news-83672620010622-060632.html

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72] Jon Courson, Ibid. p 211.

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91] Brian Borderson, Spiritual Warfare, Calvary Basics Series (The Word For Today: Costa Mesa, CA 92628) p. 16-19

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[98]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[99]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[100]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[101]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[102] Sumrall, Lester, Demons The Answer Book Whitaker House Pub.:New Kinsington, PA 1993)

[103] Sumrall, Ibid. p. 11-25

[104] Merrill F. Unger, Demons IN The World Today, p. 113, 102

[105]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[106]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[107]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[108] Sumrall, Ibid. p. 101-102

[109]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[110]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[111]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[112]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[113]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[114]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[115]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[116]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[117] See Robert Morey’s Satan’s Devices, Eugene. OR: Harvest House Publishers) 1993. pgs 23-34

[118]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[119]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[120]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[121]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[122]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[123] Robert Morey, Ibid. pgs. 65-84

[124]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[125]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[126]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[127]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[128]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[129]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[130]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[131]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[132] William Booth in The Founder's Messages to Soldiers, Christianity Today, October 5, 1992, p. 48.

[133]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[134]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[135]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[136]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.