Sunday 19 July 2015
“But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.” Genesis 25:22
In science as in life, often, solution to a problem begins by asking the right questions. It was after the disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” (Matthew 17:19) that they were taught a very vital lesson: there are situations in life that won’t change until we engage the gear of prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
Rebekah was having a lot of struggles within her. Isaac and Rebekah had prayed for God to give them children and now she was pregnant, but she was having such turbulence within her that she began to wonder if all was well with her. She went to inquire of the Lord and was told that there were two kinds of people within her. She was carrying two personalities in her womb and they were in conflict even from the womb.
Her experience is no different from what a lot of people face today. Many of us ask the same question “Why am I like this?” We want to know why we act the way we do. When Tim Lahaye wrote the book entitled “Why you act the way you do” it was an instant best seller because people want to understand why there is disparity between their actions and their better judgement.
This was how Paul captured this contradiction: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV). Many of us can relate to this struggle.
THE GADARENE MARK 5:1-20
One story that illustrates the intensity of this conflict is that of the Gadarene demoniac. In him we find two personalities in conflict, one wanting to do what is right and the other ending up doing what is wrong. He saw Jesus and bowed to worship Him but the next minute we find him yelling out “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:6-7). He is in the tomb cutting himself with stones, but he’s also crying out, ostensibly because of the pain he was feeling from his action. He reminds us of the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:28).
This man was self-destructive. We wonder why a man would be cutting himself with stones, causing himself so much bodily harm and yet could not stop what he was doing. His cries were obviously an indication that he didn’t like what he was doing to himself.
Are there people like that today? Certainly. If this man had lived in our day we would have given several medical explanations for his behaviour. He could have been said to have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder etc. He too could have claimed that living in the tomb is an “alternative lifestyle” or that he was “born this way!” Society would have given him a crutch to excuse his abnormal behaviour.
But the Bible unequivocally declares that the man was under the influence of an external power. He was demonized! Does it mean that every disorder is an indication of demons? Not at all. There are genuine medical conditions that are purely organic but we must not deny the fact that sometimes, demons influence people’s behaviour. Paul explained it this way: “Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2 Timothy 2:26 NLT).
Was this man always like this? I don’t think so. Luke’s version of the story says, “When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.” (Luke 8:27 NIV). If he hadn’t worn clothes “for a long time” then it means that there was a time when he wore clothes, when he lived a normal life. It means that something happened along the way that predisposed him to the present condition he found himself.
Today we meet people who continue to do what hurts them, what brings them pain, sorrow, shame and regret, yet won’t stop or are unable to stop what they are doing. For them it is a vicious circle of sin – remorse – confession then sin again and the circle continues ad infinitum! They are hurting their finance, health, family, business etc. by their lifestyle yet they wouldn’t stop what they are doing. They may feel remorse, weep and promise never to do it again but find themselves back to the same cesspool. Self-preservation is said to be the strongest instinct in man, yet these people continue to do what hurts them and their family.
FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
The Gadarene was tired of living this way. He was tired of the contradiction; he was tired of the pain he was causing himself and others; he was tired of the shame and reproach. He wanted to live a normal life again. No wonder when he saw Jesus, that part of him that desired to do what is right went straight to Him because he recognised that Jesus had the solution to his problem. Whatever was in him acknowledged the superiority of God’s power. No matter how ‘possessed’ a person is, there is little strength or area of control he can use to come to Jesus.
The Good News is that Jesus came to set the captives free. (Luke 4:18-19; 10:17; 1 John 3:8). Jesus cast out the legion of demons that were in the man and as the spirits requested, permitted them to enter the swine. Some may question the moral of the wastage – So much bacon! Obviously, in God’s economy, one soul is of greater value than many swine! Just imagine the number of demons that inhabited a single man!
The description of this man after he was delivered is quite instructive. “Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon- possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.” (Mark 5:15). The transformation that had taken place in his life was awe-inspiring. The villagers couldn’t believe that he was the same man. He was now a normal person.
That’s what Jesus wants to do in our lives. He wants us to become normal again. He gives “sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). This man could now live the life that God meant for him; he could now live out his potentials. Not surprising, the man became a great testimony all around that region.
This month of July (when all of HAC is fasting) is an auspicious moment to experience freedom. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6). Are you satisfied with where you are or are you pushing for a change? Jesus makes the difference. No matter what’s behind your condition, it can’t withstand the power and authority of the name of Jesus.