I have chosen to feature the entire episode of the madman from Gerasene, and how Jesus deals with his demonic possession. Actually, I prefer the title that the English Standard Version gives to this passage... Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon. This is such a simple phrase, but it accurately describes what happens when we work with Him in delivering those who are being attacked by demons.
[At this point, I think it is necessary to explain why I used the word demonic possession, rather than demonic oppression. What I have learned through my training and experience in spiritual deep healing is that those who believe in Jesus have the Holy Spirit residing within them; their spirit belongs to Jesus and demons cannot take up residence there. BUT satan and his demons can attack their minds, their emotions, their free will, and their flesh -- causing emotional and physical pain, and bouts of anxiety, fear, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and any other sin that robs us of our peace in Jesus. That is called demonic oppression. On the other hand, an unbeliever's spirit is not occupied by the Holy Spirit, and a demon or demons can inhabit that person's spirit; and devoid of any semblance of Jesus, that person can be possessed by the demonic spirits and under their full control.]
I also wanted to use the entire story of this healing to show you the principles of spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry that are contained within it. And while it is such a familiar story among Christians, I am convinced that the true impact of it has been lost among this modern society. So, we'll just start at the beginning...
Verses one through five give us a classic picture of the effects of being demonically possessed. (In fact, the version in Luke actually says he was "possessed by demons" in the Amplified version.) Again, the picture of this man is that he was filled with unclean spirits (marking him as ungodly); had been possessed for a long time; he wore no clothes and acted like a wild animal; he lived in the tombs among the decaying and dead, which was contrary to Jewish law and against human instinct; he had supernatural strength; and he was tormented and self-destructive, given to cutting himself with stones. Any of these attributes would indicate a troubled man in need of emotional and spiritual healing, but he hit the jackpot with all these characteristics, and there is no question that he is possessed by demons.
Some commentaries suggest that this madman plays a very special role in the community and he is the scapegoat for the entire community, bearing the demons of everyone, which explains why he has so many (a Legion, which by Roman military standards, could be as high as 5-6,000). Scripture does not make this clear, but we do know that he has a great many demons who inhabit him.
In verse 6, it is made clear that the demons recognize Jesus for who He is, and bow down in homage. It is Biblical Truth that all spiritual powers are subject to Jesus Christ who has supreme authority, and demons are powerless before Him. We have certainly found that to be true in the ministry sessions we have done. I want to make it clear that not everyone who is invited to our table to meet with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to let Them set them free has demons who inhabit them. Sometimes Jesus can just show them He was present during the hurtful times in their lives, which helps them to forgive those who hurt them, and the wounds are healed. But if a person is hanging on to any spirit of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, pain, etc., then they have given legal authority for that spirit to take up residence in their soul (mind, emotions, and free will) and they have to be kicked out.
All Jesus had to do (in verse 8) was tell the demon to come out of the man. And when we do deliverance/deep healing with someone, the Holy Spirit actually guides us to ask the demons to submit to Jesus's authority and they have no choice -- they are subject to His authority and powerless before Him. All that may seem simplistic and too easy; but if you believe that Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us, then why is it so difficult to believe that He can be present with us here and now, demand that the demon leave a person, and send them where He wants to... just like He did here in Mark, Chapter 5?
There is another principle that I want to point out in verse 10. Notice that the demons begged Jesus not to send them "out of the region". It is my viewpoint that satan assigns areas to his cosmic powers and entities. Whether it be a city, a state, a nation, or a continent, I believe that satan dedicates specific ground to his rulers. In this case, a group have been assigned the region of Gerasene. It is possible that the demons did not want to give up their power and requested to be sent into the pigs so that they might remain in that region. But the region consisted of the Country of the Gerasenes, and extended only as far as the land extended to the water's edge. So when they asked to go into the pigs, Jesus gave them permission. And if you're wondering why I think that the pigs then rushed headlong into the sea and drowned, I believe it was because all things are under the authority of Jesus, and He willed it as the manner of destruction for the demons.
There are many other opinions about this particular passage -- among them, that Zeus (or Jupiter) worship was the religion of this area, and pigs were the choice sacrificial animal. By being allowed to enter the pigs, and running them off the cliff, the demon spirits accomplish a blood sacrifice to Jupiter, the god of the sea. OR, this could have been a two-fold event from Jesus's perspective -- free the demon-possessed man, and disrupt the Zeus/Jupiter worship by drowning the ritually-used swine.
The truth is that we don't really know all the hidden answers to this Biblical puzzle. But we DO know that it was only by the power of Jesus that the man was able to be set free. The circumstances under which he was restored can be repeated the same way today ... When Jesus is present, and we call upon Him and His Holy Spirit within us, the demons are rendered impotent and defenseless. They MUST obey His commands, and leave. If no demons are present, the power of the Holy Spirit shows one that Jesus is present in the moment, and conveys the truth that He was present at the time of the wounding. He leads us to the knowledge that we need not be subject to the lies of the Enemy; He leads us to the knowledge that the freedom Jesus promises is real; and He leads us to the knowledge of that we don't have to live in defeat. Like the madman from Gerasene, Jesus will be there when you need Him most... you must never give up or resign yourself to defeat. No matter how many demons have plagued you in your life, they are ALL subject to their Creator ... the same One who created you to live in the freedom He bought and paid for. That is His Truth, and believe me, it will set you free! And our obligation? To spread the word as He asked: "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you" (Mark 5:17-20). It is my privilege to have witnessed such grace and mercy, and to have partnered with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bring such blessed freedom to those in bondage. May the Church awake to this knowledge and understanding!
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