Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Unclean Spirit Cast Out, Mark 1:21-26

21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. (Mark 1:21-26)

What was the nature of this unclean spirit that was in the man?  I think it was one that made the man feel that he was lost forever and change wasn’t possible for him.  It perhaps made him think that change wasn’t desirable either.  Yet the man still came to the synagogue to hear.

When Jesus taught the people in the synagogue, the man with the unclean spirit heard doctrines that made him think that it might be possible to change, but the unclean spirit still had a hold on him.  The result was that he felt that it was too late fro him and that Jesus’ words mocked him by offering salvation that he couldn’t have.  Jesus’ words offering hope tormented him because he didn’t think it was real.  “Let us alone!” he cried, “What have we to do with the, thou Jesus of Nazareth?”  We see here the man considered Jesus in a totally different class of being, thinking there was no way he could be anything like Him.  He felt there was no way he could change, and if he couldn’t change, then the only thing he could expect from the Son of God would be harsh judgment and destruction.  “Art thou come to destroy us?”

Jesus didn’t get mad or frustrated with the man; He knew it wasn’t really the man talking, but the evil spirit that had possession of him.  He told the evil spirit to come out.

It takes a while for it to happen.  The scriptures say the evil spirit tore the man and cried with a loud voice.  I don’t think it was a physical tearing though.  It was a spiritual tearing, as the man was torn in two different directions.  Part of him was desperate to respond to Jesus and His doctrine, but the natural man wanted to stay as he was.  The struggle was so great and poignant the man lost his composure and cried stormily.  But he chose to follow Christ.

I think this is a valuable account because there may be times in our lives when we think there is no hope for us and that if Jesus came He would just destroy us.  This story tells us that it is not us that torments us this way, but an evil spirit that seeks to prevent us from repenting and changing.  This story is meant to help us recognize that devilish influence and escape it.  It helps us by showing us that this man could change and there is hope for anyone else who felt as he used to.  

We can pray to escape evil attitudes and evil spirits.  I have done this before when I have found myself tormented by an evil attitude.  When I pray, the Lord blesses me to help me overcome it.