Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Act of kindness or creepy ritual?

Some sicknesses are just sicknesses with no specific cause, like the blind and deaf man who the disciples though was being punished by God because of his or his parents’ sins.  Jesus told them that it had nothing to do with sin, but that God was going to show His glory through that man, then He healed him on the spot.  No one was to blame, but Jesus wanted to heal him even so.  

All sickness can be traced back to the fall of man when Adam and Eve sinned and Satan and his demons were given an entryway into all flesh.  Some sickness is just a result of life in this fallen world, but some sicknesses are directly related to a demonic presence inside a person’s life.  It doesn’t mean that the person is evil and should be punished, but that the devil has found a way to attack and cause destruction in one more victim.  This is much more common than most people imagine or even suspect.

It’s always a tricky thing to suggest to someone that they’re being attacked, and maybe even possessed by a demon.  Hollywood has made the subject either a freak show or a joke, the Catholic Church has made a creepy medieval ritual out of it, holy-roller Pentecostals have fanatical scream-fests about it, and contemporary Christians just don’t want to think about it.  But we can’t escape the fact that Jesus dealt with demon possession every day, taught His disciples how to set people free, and treated it as a normal part of ministry that should continue until He returns.  If some sicknesses and problems are directly caused by the presence of demons, wouldn’t it be an act of kindness and mercy to fight those demons on that person’s behalf? 

A mute man was brought to Jesus, and Matthew says that he was demon-possessed.  Jesus drove out the spirits, and the man began to speak again.  It was so amazing that the crowds were buzzing with excitement about this miracle, the likes of which had never been seen in Israel.  Another time, a woman bent over double for eighteen years was found by Jesus in the synagogue, worshipping God in great pain.  He didn’t just heal her – He rebuked the demon and cast it out and she instantly stood upright.  Neither of these people were treated as evil outcasts, they were ordinary people who were just “bound by Satan,” as Jesus called it.  The man was brought by friends or family who cared about him, the woman was seeking God in His house on the Sabbath.  Jesus didn’t reject them because demons were inhabiting their bodies, He loved them, and had compassion on them.  

Don’t think for a second that since we live in a highly sophisticated age of advanced technology that demons no longer work as they did 2000 years ago.  Demons have advanced right along with us, and still create pain and anguish in anyone they can find.  Good-hearted believers aren’t exempt from the devil’s attacks, and only those who are filled with His Spirit are protected from being possessed.  But that doesn’t mean that the devil won’t try, or that we should assume that everyone around us is just fine because they love God.  If you love your neighbor, fight for their freedom in your prayers.  Bring them to a pastor who knows how to do warfare against the evil that is attacking them and then teaches them how to fight for themselves.  And maybe you have some warfare to do in your own life.  Just like the people in Jesus’ day, a huge miracle could be waiting for you too.

As they went out, they brought to Him a mute man possessed with a demon. And when the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke, and the crowds were amazed, saying, “This has never been seen in Israel”  (Matthew 9:32-34 MEV)

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