Bible Study for Sept. 10: Demons

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Mark 9:17-29
Tim Riordan, pastor
SonRise Baptist Church, Newnan

“I choose to believe it’s plastic!”

Years ago, when we passed a dead animal on the side of the road, my daughter’s friend would mumble these words. Although she was not serious, the reality of this mantra intersects life more often than we would like to admit.

People deny the consequences of health decisions or the outcome of unwise spending. We also sometimes deny the reality of demonic forces. Demons seem a bit unreal in our modern age, and we often feel like they only belong in movies. Jesus’ life and ministry, however, reveal that evil is real. No matter what we do to disparage the reality of demonic forces, the Bible underscores their presence and work against God’s Kingdom.

Satanic forces are real

This key passage opens with a story of a real account of demonic activity that stole the life from a young boy. Christians may admit the reality of Satan today, but some struggle with the concept of demon activity. The Bible, however, speaks to this truth. Because Satan does not have the qualities of God as to being all-powerful and omnipresent, he accomplishes his work through myriads of demons. We can assume these demons are the fallen angels who revolted with Lucifer (Revelation 12:3-4 & Isaiah 14:12-15).

Several times in this passage, Mark referred to the being who possessed this boy as a spirit. When Jesus confronted this demonic force, He said, “You deaf and mute spirit” (vs. 25).

By calling this being a spirit, Jesus referred to an immaterial presence that had possessed this boy. We know this spirit was demonic in part because of its destructive nature. First Peter 5:8 and other passages are clear that Satan is a destroyer. Other passages refer to demonic spirits as wicked (Mt 12:45), evil (Acts 19:12) and unclean (Mt 10:1).

Some theologians have called this boy’s malady epilepsy, but it is obvious that the problem was from a demonic source and not a physical disorder. Other misguided people have pointed to all physical problems as being the result of demon activity, but the Bible does not support this position. In the case of this story, Jesus removes doubt as to the source, and the story points to a real, demonic presence.

Satanic forces are strong

While some people deny the reality of demons, other people misjudge their power. Acts 19:11-17 tells the story of the sons of a synagogue leader trying to cast out demons “by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The demon acknowledged knowing Jesus, and he had heard of Paul, but he did not know these men. The demons attacked them, and the men escaped wounded and naked.

In Mark 9:18, we read where the disciples could not cast out the demon from this boy because of the demon’s power. The father of the boy also indicated that the demon caused the boy to be mute, and it seized him and slammed him on the ground. Satan and his demons are a formidable foe.

We cannot overestimate the power of demonic forces around us. If we do, we may fall victim to their schemes. When I played football in high school, we were always cautioned to never minimize the threat of our opponent. The same is true in spiritual warfare and in living the Christian life.

Because of Satan’s power, we should be careful not to command Satan and take authority over demons. While the Scripture tells us to resist the devil (James 4:7), we are not enabled to “bind” Satan. Only Jesus can do that. Even in Mark 3:27, Jesus is the stronger man who binds the strong man, who is Satan.

The boy’s father wavered in his faith when he said, “If You can do anything, take pity on us.” Jesus underscored the importance of complete faith in His power over evil: “All things are possible to him who believes.” To overcome the evil one, we must rely upon God’s power and the truth of His word.

Satanic forces cannot stand against Jesus Christ

The great climax of this story is the spiritual victory Jesus had over the demon. Demons must submit to the authority of Jesus, so when Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the boy, the demon had no choice but to submit. Mark 5:6 tells of a demon possessed man running up to Jesus and bowing before Him. Mark 1:34 reveals that demons had to obey Jesus when He would not permit them to speak. While Satan is at work as the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), he is working as a defeated foe. Jesus has already won the victory at the cross.

One of Satan’s problems comes from his own nature. He is a deceiver (Rev. 12:9) and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). Not only does he deceive the world, but it seems that he has deceived himself. He forgets that Jesus Christ is King of kings and the Mighty Warrior. The final chapter of Jesus’ victory has already been written!

Our victory comes only through Jesus Christ. Jesus alluded to the challenges of spiritual warfare when he explained to the disciples why they could not cast out this demon. He told them their power would only come from above and that it must come from prayer.

Demons are real and demonic activity is burgeoning around us daily. We can choose to believe “it is plastic” at our own peril, or we can place our faith and our hope in the One who is victorious (Rev 3:21) for He alone is our Deliverer.

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