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A. In the gospels there are five stories of specific demon-deliverances. But there are verses that say Jesus did it a lot (e.g. Mark 1:32-34; 39; 3:7-12)
B. What is a demon?
1. A fallen angel (Matt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 12:7-9).
2. Just as the angels are God's ministering spirits to serve His purposes, especially among His elect, so demons work against man both through affliction (as in the story of Job) and through temptation.
3. Demons cannot force man to sin (as we see in the case of Jesus), but are sometimes allowed by God to afflict and torment men.
C. God’s sovereignty over Satan
1. The authors of the gospels are intent on demonstrating the fact that Jesus had ABSOLUTE authority over all demonic power.
2. The demons knew who He was -- and they trembled in terror.
3. 2Cor.12:7 “a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” (serving God’s purposes)
5. “The Devil is God’s Devil.” – Luther
D. Our question: Why did Jesus cast out demons? What was this aspect of His ministry all about?
II. Demon-deliverance and the coming of the kingdom of God
A. Matt.12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
B. There is something much bigger here than just a conflict with some fallen angels. The casting out of demons means that “the Kingdom of God has come upon you."
1. Jesus says: This is what is really happening! This is what the real explanation for what you see is! It is a signal that the kingdom of God has come upon you.
2. If there is something pushing back the dominion of Satan, then there must be another kingdom.
3. This world has been dominated by the power of Satanic deception since the fall.
4. Ever since Eden men had lived under Satan's dominion.
5. It is permeated by the power of darkness - injustice, hatred, disease, slander, murder, warfare, immorality, evil desire, greed, idolatry, disobedience, anger, dishonesty.
6. Now One has come to destroy the works of the devil.
7. A new Adam has come onto the scene, a second Adam, who comes to undo the work of the first Adam.
a. First He demonstrates His ability to resist Satan's personal attacks.
b. Then He goes on the offensive and begins to attack Satan and overpower him, casting out Satan in the way that the first Adam should have cast Him out in the garden of Eden.
8. When Jesus demonstrates His dominance over Satan it is a sign that at last the King has come to establish His kingdom. It is the inauguration of the kingdom of God, of the new creation.
C. There are two stages of this coming of the kingdom.
1. There is coming a great overpowering of Satan on the last day:
a. Rev.20:9-10 “Fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
b. Rev.20:14 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.”
c. Gen. 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
d. Romans 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
e. When the demons begged Jesus not to throw them into the abyss (Luke 8:31-32) because it wasn’t yet time (Matt. 8:29).
f. When Jesus cast out a demon it pointed ahead to what He would do to the powers of evil on the last day. (We have already seen how in His ministry on earth Jesus reverses the curse in small ways to demonstrate what He will do when He comes again on the last day.)
2. There is also a preliminary throwing down of Satan:
a. John 12:31-32 “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
b. Luke 10:17-18 "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."
c. Col.2:15 “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [at the cross], He made a public display of them [presumably at the resurrection], having triumphed over them through Him.”
d. Rev.20:1-3 “I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”
(1) It also pictured what Jesus was doing in breaking Satan’s hold on the nations so that He could no longer hold them in the grip of his deception.
(2) He has restricted the powers of the evil one so that He might snatch us from His control.
e. Matthew 12:29 “Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Luke adds the detail that Satan is armed and guarding his goods.)
(1) A burglar out to steal someone’s treasures. Why? He desires them. He treasures them.
(2) Jesus is in the business of plundering Satan's house. We are the plunder!!
(3) Why did He do all this? So that He could obtain us!
(4) We were the devil's prey. We were his slaves. We were his victims.
f. But now a far greater power has broken in to undo the work of the devil in our lives, to show that "the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world."
(1) Now we belong to the Lord, who was strong enough to bind Satan so that we might escape.
(2) He is not weak, but strong and mighty, strong and mighty within us.
(3) And He is continually opening up new doors, pushing back the forces of evil, releasing sinful men from their bondage to Satan's powers.
g. If we had to face the devil or even one minor league demon, we wouldn't stand a chance. All of us together wouldn't stand a chance.
h. But inside of us dwells the One who has bound the strong man. We are part of the plunder that He has stolen from Satan's own house.
i. Matt.12:22 “Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw.”
(1) This man pictures the fact that evil is the source of man's agonies: his blindness, his deafness. He has neither the power to see the glories of God around him, nor the ability to even cry out to God and express his miseries.
(2) We see from this that the power of evil has turned man into a living corpse, a zombie. He lives in darkness and helplessness. He lives in the blackness of despair – all because the power of the evil one has a grip on him.
(3) And then Jesus comes and delivers him from the power of Satan which has imprisoned him and heals his body as well.
j. And this is a big part of what is behind all of our Lord’s deliverances from demons: through them Jesus wants to show us that He is the one who can cast evil out of men.
(1) Even if we don’t have an actual demon inside, but all of us have a demonic streak, all of us have a Satanic element within us.
(2) Jesus is the one who overpowers the evil and throws it out of us.
III. What is demon-possession?
A. Demon-possession is a situational evil.
B. There are two kinds of evil – both of which involve the activity of Satan.
1. Moral evil: sin (the fall)
2. Situational evil: misery (the curse)
C. In the gospels demon-possession is always situational.
1. Healing language used for demon-deliverance
a. Matthew 4:24 “The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.” (Cf. Mark 3:10; Luke 8:2; 9:42)
b. Luke 7:21 “At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.”
c. Acts 10:38 "healing all who were oppressed by the devil"
2. Sickness caused by demons
a. “And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God.” (Luke 13:11-13)
3. The demon-possessed are never held accountability for their condition – not once!
a. Jesus is always kind and compassionate toward the person demon-possessed but always stern and relentless with the demons themselves.
b. The gospels never link demon-possession and sin.
c. Jesus never deals with moral evil by casting out a demon.
4. The result of demon-deliverance is not moral transformation but situational restoration like peace, relief, healing, and the restoration of mental and physical capabilities.
a. The boy whom the demon convulsed found relief.
b. The man driven mad with restless torment was seen sitting down, clothed and in his right mind.
c. The woman who had been doubled over stood up straight.
d. The Syro-phoenician woman’s daughter who had been cruelly harassed by demons was delivered.
e. The man who had been blinded and silenced by a demon was made to see and speak.
5. Seven more demons worse than the others (Matt.12:43-45)
D. Jesus overcomes both moral evil and situational evil – but in two different ways.
1. Jesus dealt with moral evil through repentance, trusting in God’s word, obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit. E.g. the temptation in the wilderness
2. Situational evil is dealt with through healings and ultimately the new heaven and new earth at the return of Christ OR being handed over to Satan (excommunication – 1Tim.1:20; 1Cor.5:5).
IV. Satan and today’s Christian
A. It is clear that there is a battle going on which involves Satan and his forces of evil:
1. Eph. 6:10ff. This is the way we're supposed to engage in spiritual warfare. See also 1Pet. 5:8-9; Jm. 4:7.
B. Paul in 1Thes.2:18 – "Satan hindered me." Was Paul’s faith too small?
C. What is the purpose of telling us about Satan’s involvement in our lives?
1. It is certainly not information for the purpose of our curiosity or speculation.
2. It is not to teach us to engage him directly.
3. It is rather as a motive, to arouse by intelligent fear and to remedy by teaching us to flee to Christ in the ordinary use of the means of grace.
D. It is clear that Christians are, through Christ, to have power over Satan and His forces: Acts 26:18; John 10:29; Col.1:13; 1Jn.4:4.
V. If God is sovereign over Satan and his demons, why doesn’t He just destroy them?
A. Because He still has use for them.
B. The demons are used by God as agents of His curse upon the earth and in particular, upon mankind.
VI. Times change
A. Jesus does not want us to walk across lakes, or pay taxes from a fish’s mouth or catch fish by commanding them into our net, or feed the hungry by multiplying a few loaves and fishes, or authoritatively speak words from God, or authoritatively call people into ministry like Jesus did with the disciples and with Paul.
1. He didn’t expect His disciples to operate this way. The miraculous mode was not supposed to be normal.
2. He doesn’t want to give us special knowledge that someone is fudging on his tithe and call him down publicly so that he will be struck dead – like Ananias and Sapphira.
B. Jesus does these mighty works but He doesn’t teach us how to do them. He teaches us how to pray and how to repent and believe and to live and to control the tongue and to be alert and to work at reconciliation and to be honest and to identify false teachers and how to handle money and so forth.
1. He says nothing about how to cast out demons, walk on water, multiply fishes or how to cast out demons.
2. We are supposed to do even greater works than Jesus (John 14:12), but we’re supposed to do them by normal means, not by miracles and demonstrations of supernatural power.
C. Recommend David Powlison book: Power Encounters