Broken Chains

Date: 10/02/2015 
Why would a loving God make a devil and how can we be protected from evil?
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The Bible is all about sin and salvation and it's a book of stories. And in this collection of stories in the Bible, it helps us understand what the purpose of life is and what God's plan is for our life. And so, in these next ten presentations together, we're going to be looking at some of the great stories of the Bible. Some of them you'll see are highlighted on these beautiful panels behind us. And through those stories, we're going to learn a number of details about the science of salvation. You know, tonight's presentation is actually found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and it's called Broken Chains.

If you have your Bibles, we invite you to look along and I'm going to start by reading the account that you'll find - this is sometimes called The Demoniac of Gadara. You find it in Mark chapter 5, it starts with the first verse and it says, "Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him." This is somebody who is - ostensibly he's filled with the wrong spirit, you think he'd run the other direction. But it says he ran to Jesus and worshiped Him.

Now you go to the account that you find in Luke chapter 8, verse 26, "Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee." - This is the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee - "And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, 'What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!' For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Legion,' because many demons had entered him." And then you'll also find an account of this, as well, in the book of Matthew.

So here you have the picture of an individual who is as probably far gone as anybody you could ever imagine, in the Bible. This man is filled with devils and it says he calls himself 'Legion' - this is one of the only or few times that Jesus actually dialogued with the devil, you might say. A Roman legion could have 6,000 soldiers in them - in legions - so can you imagine a man having thousands of devils? How does a person get that way? You know, everything we find about this story describes the condition of the lost. It also is a great story to study because it illustrates the extreme opposites - Jesus is there on the shore - God filling a man; the demoniac is there on the shore - the devil filling a man. Matter of fact, you don't find two more polar opposite pictures in the Bible, of someone who is perfectly saved and someone who is perfectly lost.

Now just to give you the picture about what they were experiencing, they had had a rough night on the sea, if you read what happened before this story. We'll talk about that another night. They'd survived a storm. Just as the sun was beginning to come up, Jesus directed them to row the boat - the storm is over - they row the boat up to this shore - and it's - looks like a wild area. It's outside of a city. It's an area called Decapolis, which meant 'deca' - or ten - cities. It's a - it was a Greek/pagan area. And as they pulled the boat up on the shore, the disciples are a little bit spooked because they can see that the hill is marked with caves and tombs, indicating that this is a cemetery. And to make matters worse, as they're stepping out of the boat, they hear these wild, snorting, grunting noises because there were 2,000 pigs, Matthew tells us, that foraged, led by caretakers, up on the hills around.

And so, keep in mind, to a Jew who is looking at this story, this is a picture of what is unclean because cemeteries and the dead were considered unclean, and pigs were considered unclean. And as they're stepping out on land, they hear these inhumane sounds - and it wasn't the pigs - and they look up on the hillside and from one of these caverns that were carved in the hill, this creature shrieks and comes charging out. And from his wrists - I've got a little illustration here - (chains clanking) - I hate to tell you, I bought this at the Halloween store. I don't like giving them business, so I won't tell you. From his wrists he's got remnants of manacles that are hanging around his neck, around his ankles - but he has no clothes on. And he comes charging out - if you had someone at a cemetery comes running out of a grave wearing chains, would that make you nervous? He comes charging out of this cemetery - out of a tomb - he's screaming, his hair is dirty, long, and matted, his body's covered with scars. It says he was cutting himself. His eyes are wild. His teeth are gnashing. He's foaming at the mouth and he comes rampaging down the hill towards them.

And even though there are thirteen of them - twelve apostles and Jesus, you can be sure the apostles jumped in that boat - I don't think any of them said, 'Oh look Jesus, somebody we can witness to.' (Laughter) 'Andrew, you got any tracts on you that we can share? Let's give them a Bible study.' I don't think they were thinking that. I think they were thinking more about self-preservation. They went running to that boat, they jumped in the boat, they pushed it ashore - they were probably kicking with their feet and paddling with their hands and it probably looked like a motorboat. (Laughter) A twelve-apostle motor boat.

Now why did the twelve apostles run from one man? You know, the Bible tells us that when a person is demon-possessed, they can have super-human strength. And you can read in the Bible where there were the seven sons of Sceva - Acts chapter 19 - and they tried to cast the devil out of a man using the name of Jesus, but they didn't really know Jesus. And they quoted Paul and the devil said to them, 'We know Jesus and we know Paul, but we don't know you.' And this demon-possessed man jumped on those seven young men and beat them all up and wounded them and they fled from the presence, naked. So here's the man that, you know, even if there was - were twelve of them, it would be pretty frightening, because he was obviously out of his mind.

Now how does a person get to the place where they're that far away from God? Did God make a devil? Is God love? How does a person get to where they're possessed with a legion of demons? Was he born that way? You know, God made everything good. The Bible tells us every good and perfect gift is from God. Then why would God make a devil? He didn't. The Lord made a beautiful angel and, if you knew him back then, you'd like him. His name was Lucifer - the most powerful of God's created beings. He led all the other angels. And we don't know how long, but for eons they all existed together in perfect harmony, without any problems. But then Lucifer began to wish that he was God. He began to resent that he didn't have the power of the Son of God and started to covet Jesus' position. You can read about this in Isaiah chapter 14, verse 12, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'" He wanted God's position.

You can also read in Ezekiel 28 he was enthralled with his own power and his own beauty and you've probably heard the expression that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so the beauty and the power and the wisdom that Lucifer had, it corrupted him and he began to wish that he had God's position. Well he took his campaign among the other angels as well and he began to say, 'You know, if I was in charge we'd have more power. We'd have more freedom. We don't need God's laws and rules to restrict us.' And then you read in Revelation 12 it finally developed into an all-out revolt in heaven. There was war in heaven and Lucifer and one-third of the angels - and there must be billions of angels - these are the ministering spirits of God. The Bible tells us that - it implies - each of us has a guardian angel and there are seven billion people in the world. And God's got other worlds and so there are billions of angels. One-third of them left heaven - they were cast out - and when they found, in this world, a couple of individuals that were willing to listen to them instead of God, the devil basically set up his headquarters on this planet and our world has become a theater to the universe. The whole universe is watching what is going on down here because there's a great battle - there is a contest going on - between Christ and Satan in this world.

Now how do you get to where you're possessed by a devil? Everybody here is probably demon harassed. We're all tempted by the devil. Jesus was tempted by the devil. It's not a sin to be tempted by the devil, it's a sin to give in to those temptations. So all of us are harassed, but being possessed is different. Little by little, when you toy with the devil, over a period of time, you start revealing yourself. You start giving in and he begins to move into your life. And as we get better and better at saying 'yes' to temptation, you can get to the place where you cannot say 'no.' It's sort of like what happened with Samson, when Delilah kept badgering him for the secret of his strength and little by little he toyed with her. Instead of running and getting away, knowing she would be treacherous, he toyed with her until pretty soon she discovered the secret and she cut off his hair and he lost his strength and he became a captive. And that's what happened, people toy with the enemy until pretty soon it's like playing with a snake that gets so big it can choke you. And little by little, through this man's life - it doesn't give us the particulars - he continued to toy with the devil until the devil moved in and completely took over. That's why God came to save us from our sins.

Well, if you look at the different things that are mentioned in this story, it really outlines what the lost condition is like. Let me just start with something obvious - and you can help me. Where did the man live? Cemetery. Who typically lives in a cemetery? Dead people. Now that's a trick question. Do dead people live in the cemetery? (Laughter) They don't, hopefully, do a lot of living there. (Laughter) You know, it says in the Bible in Ecclesiastes chapter 9, verse 5, the living know that they'll die, but the dead don't know anything. The Bible is pretty clear that those that die are sleeping a peaceful, dreamless sleep - as Jesus said about Lazarus, 'Our friend sleeps.' When the resurrection happens and the judgment happens, then people are going to be very aware what's going on. But this man lived in a cemetery. That's a sign of death, because when you don't have Jesus, and this man represents - it's a true story but it has meaning - he represents the lost condition. The Bible says that 'he that has the Son has life; he that has not the Son has not life.' If you don't have life, what do you have?

The Bible is interesting, you know? The book of Genesis - how many of you know the first few words of Genesis? "In the beginning God created." How many of you know the last five words of Genesis? "In a coffin in Egypt." It starts in a garden in paradise - everlasting life - tree of life - ends in a coffin. This world has become a cemetery. There's so much death. There's so much dying, There's so much disease - and it's all because man doubted the word of God. The devil said, 'Has God said?' And when man began to question the truth of God's word it went downhill from there. But God wanted to redeem us and so God sent his Son into the world for three principle reasons: to show us what God is like - Jesus said, 'If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father.' To show us how we ought to treat each other - the Bible says He's given us an example that we should walk as He walked.' And He also came as our sacrifice to take what we deserve that we might have what he deserved. But we need to ask Him in.

So this man is living surrounded by death. It represents the dead. I remember years ago, I went to Egypt and they had a place there called The City of the Dead and it's - it's a big cemetery and there's so many poor people around Cairo that they don't have shelter. And so, to protect themselves from the elements, there was this fifteenth-century cemetery - hundreds of acres - elaborate tombs and mausoleums with coverings and ornate buildings and all the poor moved in there for shade and protection. And the government would chase them out and they'd move back in. They'd chase them out - it got to where it became a sanitation problem so they supplied water for them. And then they supplied electricity for them. And then they started delivering mail. And then they started taking tourists by and you can see all these thousands of people that live in this cemetery. The call it The City of the Dead. They've got their clothes strung out to dry between the tombstones. And there's a big mausoleum and you walk inside and a big coffin in the middle - it's the dining table. Wouldn't that kind of warp kids - you think - growing up like that? Always have an extra guest there at dinner. City of the Dead - something like this world.

We all are under a death penalty unless we find Jesus. From the moment you're born, you begin to grow towards the grave. I know that sounds depressing, but Jesus came to save that man and He came to save us from death. What else did we learn about this man? What's he wearing? Not much - he's got the chains on. We'll talk about that in a moment. What does clothing represent, Biblically? I heard someone say 'righteousness.' Clothing really represents your character. All of our righteousness is like what?

>>Filthy rags.

>>Filthy rags. What happened to Adam and Eve, you know, when - they used to have these garments of light. They had no artificial clothing in the garden, but after they sinned, the light went out. You know, Moses talked to God and he glowed. Adam and Eve used to talk to God and they had these robes of light, like it says in Revelation. But when they sinned, the light went out and they were what? >>Naked. >>When that man, in the parable of the good Samaritan, fell among thieves, the thieves robbed him and they beat him and they stripped him. In the story I shared a moment ago from Acts 19, when that demon beat up those young men, it says they fled naked. And the devil wants to strip and humiliate the world - to rob us of any righteousness or character. So this man has no clothes. The problem is he's naked, he doesn't seem to care. Most of us, you know, right now if you should suddenly discover that you were naked, it would probably - I'd like to think you'd stay to the end of the sermon, but I guess not. You'd excuse yourself, even if the temperature was comfortable, you probably would leave because you'd feel this compelling desire to cover yourself. This man, he doesn't care. Represents the lost - no desire for righteousness.

I always hesitate sharing this story but, I think Karen feels a little awkward when I do, but I'll say a little more later but I used to live up in the mountains when I was a teenager in a cave. It was during the hippie era and I was way back in the hills and trying to be at one with nature and I just didn't wear any clothes. Now I don't mean just when I was skinny dipping, I mean, I - all day long, all night - I just - I never wore clothes. And I wasn't the only one. That's what a lot of hippies did. We were - any of you remember - you don't have to raise your hand - the age of the flower children? And you know, when I first did that - I grew up normal, wearing clothes, but when I moved up there and decided to be at one with nature, it felt really awkward at first. But you can get used to being naked. And I got to where I didn't think about it. Once or twice a week I'd hike down to Palm Springs where I'd do my shopping. I kept my shorts and t-shirt, you know, because some places it says 'no shoes, no shirt, no service' - I'm sure that's true for no pants - no service too (Laughter) - so I used to keep some spare clothes in the backpack and when I'd get down, just outside of city limits, I - there was a rock along the trail, I'd stop there and put on my clothes and go and take care of things.

But one morning - you know where this is going? One morning I woke up and it was a beautiful day and I couldn't wait to get to town because I used to have to panhandle or go try and scrounge and get some money, and I actually had some money. And this was the desert - these are desert mountains and it was very hot and the treat for me was to go to Thrifty's and get some ice cream - a nickel a scoop. I don't know if anyone remembers that - and I was - I had enough money to get three scoops - fifteen cents - and I was in a big hurry to get to town. And so I took a short cut right towards Thrifty across the desert and I did not go by the rock where I normally stop and put on my clothes and that was sort of the mental trigger there to remind me. And I just began to plow off into Palm Springs city limits with my backpack and my shoes on. I had to wear shoes up there because they've got cactus. Nothing else but a smile.

And I remember the first group of buildings I came near, believe it or not, was a Catholic church and I don't know exactly what was happening - I don't recall - it was a Sunday, but they were having some kind of a service and this family - a father, a mother, and two daughters decided to go for a nature walk. Just outside of the parking lot of the church it met right up with the desert - they got a lot more nature that day than they had planned on - (Laughter) - and I was going down the trail and I was feeling really good. I was feeling great. And a beautiful day and I came around some sagebrush on the trail and there's about 50-feet away and I looked up and I saw them.

Well, I'm friendly and I - just some kind of, you know, greeting and - just instantly the shock went through the whole family. The mother, her eyes got big and her mouth went open and she closed her eyes. The two little girls instinctively turned away and the father kind of, you know, embraced them - there was nowhere to hide. And it all happened in a fraction of a second and this shock went through the whole family and - I'm embarrassed to tell you - my first reaction was I looked over my shoulder to find out what had frightened them so much. And I could tell that it was something terrible was behind me and I thought, 'Well, whatever it is we'll run together!' (Laughter) It didn't take long and then I realized, 'Oh!' I had this overwhelming sense of shame - and we're laughing today, but at the time it wasn't funny and I know I deeply offended them and the girls probably are still in therapy today - (Laughter) - I don't know. But I suddenly realized I was naked. I had been, an hour before, but it suddenly occurred to me what my condition was.

You know what the Lord says about the condition of the church in the last days? It says you're poor and wretched and miserable and blind and you're naked. And they don't know and they don't seem to care. And then he said, 'I counsel you to buy of me that robe of righteousness' - that clothing that Jesus is offering - that He purchased with His own blood. You know, the only thing Jesus left behind at the cross was a robe - a blood-stained robe - and the only way we're going to get to Heaven is to have that wedding garment on, according to the parables of Jesus. We need to accept the righteousness that Christ is providing.

Well, what else did we learn about this man? It said that whenever they tried to restrain him, he would not accept any restraint - no self-control - he'd break the chains and totally independent - unsocial. You know, we need order in our lives and we need law in our lives to be happy. I went to two of the most opposite schools in North America. One of them was New York Military Academy. In fact, I went there - I was entering elementary school when Donald Trump was graduating. It's called NYMA - New York Military Academy - it is the strictest school in North America. We had rules about everything. It was - it's like a military establishment for kids. I mean, they inspect your room every day and you had to stand at attention and go through all these drills and march everywhere and they measured how you folded your underwear. They would bounce a quarter off your bed. Your clothes had to be in your closet in a certain stacked order. I mean, it was just - white glove inspections - government inspections. Not everyday, but we were inspected every day - strict.

And then, after a couple of years there, my mother, who was very different from my father - who had - they'd divorced years earlier, but he was more military and she was more 'Doug needs to express himself.' And she told my father, 'Doug really, you know, he's going through the teenage years. He needs to find himself. I found a great school for him.' It was an experimental school called 'Pine Henge.' I just looked it up again today on the internet. And no rules - well, they had three rules: no drugs, no sex, no fighting - nobody paid attention to the rules they had. Co-ed - all ages - co-ed dorms - didn't have to go to meals if you didn't feel like it. You didn't have to go to class if you didn't feel like it. They figured kids are going to learn what they want to learn. And it was just - the whole year was just wild bedlam. And we learned how to make beer and about lsd, and we learned all kinds of things - there is some truth to that, but we learned all the wrong things. Now here's the question: where do you think I was happier, the military school with the order and the control and the restrictions and the rules or the free school with no order? God doesn't give us rules to restrict our happiness, He gives us rules to preserve our happiness.


>>Because we need order. We need law. Otherwise you've got a lawless world and a lawless life. And the devil, he wants us to cast off all restraint. What else did we learn about this man? It says he went around always in the mountains crying out and cutting himself with stones. Does he sound happy? Always he was in the mountains and - boy, it must have just really haunted the area of Decapolis when, at night, they'd hear this man moaning and dragging his chains and then they'd hear him shriek. He would pick up knives and he would cut himself. It doesn't mean he fell down, it means he was mutilating himself. This is what the devil wants us to do - he leads us into lives that are self-destructive. Satan entered Judas and he went out and hung himself. The Lord withdrew from Saul and he fell on his own sword. Sin will make you self-destruct. Jesus said if you live for yourself, you'll lose your life. If you let go of your life now, for God, you will find your life.

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but in life, the secret to happiness is by giving everything you are and everything you have to God and then He gives it back to you. And He gives you peace and He gives you direction and purpose. This man tried to live life like it was one big party and he became the ultimate slave of the devil. Now, all of this is telling us about what the devil's plan is for us. Think about it for a moment. There on the beach that day, the disciples, you know, they probably paddled their boat out a couple of hundred yards and they looked back to the shore and they saw Jesus was still there. Jesus did not run from this devil. He stood there because Christ was not afraid. And I think that Jesus knew, whatever was left in that man, of his own free will, had come to Christ looking for help.

There on the beach that day you've got the great controversy. You know what God's plan is for your life? The Lord's plan for each of you is to be like Jesus. What is a Christian? A Christian is a follower of Christ, and the more we look at Christ, the more He is impressed on our souls and we become like what we worship. And so a Christian, as he keeps his eyes on Christ, he is transformed little by little and he becomes like Jesus. The purpose of the plan of salvation - in the beginning, God made man in His own image. The devil's been trying to erase the image of God from man. Jesus came to restore the image of God to man. Now this other character - you know, the devil has a plan for your life too. The devil's plan is to remove any trace of the image of God from you. Can you think, in the Bible, of anybody that is further from God than this man? Just look at the picture. He is naked, he's covered with scars - cutting himself. Some of you remember in your Bibles, the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel - that when the prophets of Baal - these demon- worshiping prophets - when they wanted to impress their god they took out knives and they pierced and they cut themselves. The devil wants us to destroy our bodies and Jesus said, 'Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.' This man is - he's wild, he's naked, he's living with - there's pigs up on the hill - but whatever was left of that man inside came to Jesus.

You might be wondering, 'Doug, who's the hero in this story?' Obviously Jesus is the hero in every story, but this man - I'm holding forth to you as a hero of faith, why? Not because he ended up demon possessed, but because he made a decision - whatever was left of that man inside, with all those demons howling in his head, when they said, 'Here's Jesus. It's the Son of God. What will we do? Let's get out of here.' Whatever was left of his will, he went to Jesus, just like he was. Have you ever known people that felt, 'I'm too far from God, I can't come. I've got so many problems. I've got so many devils.' You ever felt like that man when you just hear so many - the cacophony of diabolical voices inside and you just wonder, can you get through to God? If that man could recognize the face of Jesus and say, 'I don't know how I could be saved. I don't know how I can be changed - with my chains, with my nakedness, surrounded by death, with my wounds.' He came to Jesus just like he was. And, you know, that is the step to eternal life. Because he did that, everything changed. It wasn't because he worked his way back to holiness, it's because he came in his helpless condition.

I challenge you: find an example of one person in the Bible that is more pathetically possessed than that person. A legion - thousands of devils - controlled his life. How could a human ever break free. You know, this is actually a very encouraging story. If the Lord could save that man, is there hope for you and me?


>>So he came to Jesus and Jesus said, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Legion,' for many devils had entered him. And then the devils said to Jesus, 'Do not cast us out into the 'abussos' - that word there, it's where we get the word 'abyss' - the Greek word is abussos and it's actually the same word that you find in Revelation chapter 20 when it says 'The devil will be cast into - what do we call it? - Bottomless pit. That word there is he'll be cast into the nothingness - that's all that means. See, devils, they don't want to haunt houses and 2x4s and plaster and bricks, devils want to haunt - they want to inhabit - they want to possess living creatures, whether it's you or a serpent or pigs, because we live in a three-dimensional world. And the devils said to Jesus, 'Don't cast us into the nothingness, let us go into the pigs up on the hill.' And you might be wondering, 'Why would Jesus say 'yes''? But He did. He even answered the prayer of the devils. Isn't it amazing that Christians are so unwilling to pray - he even answers the devil's prayer - and we don't pray. And the devils said, 'Let us go into the pigs.' He said, 'Go.'

Now the Lord knew how this would end and that's why he allowed it. He was going to work that together for good. And this is an interesting story if for no other reason - there's only a couple of places in the Bible where Jesus is directly connected with anything dying. He cursed a fig tree and then He allowed the devils to go into these pigs. And as soon as He said go, this man - you know, I can only imagine what it must have looked like - if you've got legions of devils - and one time Jesus cast the devils out of a boy. This devil used to throw the boy in the fire and he used to throw him in the water and Jesus told the devil to come out and the boy convulsed - he went through this tremendous internal struggle - casting out a devil.

So can you imagine what the picture was when a legion of devils came out of that man? Probably he looked like a burlap bag full of fighting cats for a few minutes. There's this struggle and this tornado of evil came out of him. I don't know if it was visible at all. Moved up the hillside where there were thousands of swine up on the cliffs above, grazing, and all of a sudden they began to snort, their eyes got wild and they began to squeal and those pigs just began to make a beeline towards the cliff. And - the guys taking care of the pigs - you don't call them shepherds, they take care of sheep. I guess pigards take care of pigs, so - and the pigards - I always liked that - it sounds good. They tried to stop them, but they couldn't. And they went stampeding and just charging off the cliff like an avalanche of pork chops and bouncing on the rocks and drowning in the water below. That's what happened. And when they saw that, they ran to tell the people in the town. They couldn't believe what they had just seen.

And meanwhile, Jesus picked up this man and cleaned him off - probably took him down to the Sea of Galilee - helped him get washed. I think, as soon as Jesus told the devils to come out - I think that the chains broke. What do you think? You know, when the angel - we'll talk about this tomorrow - when the angel told Peter, 'Follow me' the chains fell off. And I think when Jesus told the devils 'Come out' the remnants of the chains fell off of him. And so, when the people of the town came out, they saw the man sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Jesus teach - like Mary Magdalene - clothed and in his right mind.

Don't miss the connection between being clothed and in your right mind. The way some people are clothed today, a lot of folks out there having wardrobe malfunctions. You wonder how sane they really are, right? It's kind of a sign of the times. Now, why did Jesus allow all those pigs to commit Hara-Kiri and jump off the cliff? This was a Jewish lake. Pigs are unclean, according to the Bible. There are 2,000 pigs - now the Sea of Galilee is not like the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic, or the Mediterranean - the Great Lakes are much bigger than the Sea of Galilee. And the Sea of Galilee - you can see across it on a clear day - if you've got 2,000 pigs bloated and floating around, everybody in the area heard about what had happened to this man. That's why the story is in Matthew and Mark and Luke, because it's there to remind us that Jesus cares more about people than pigs. It's interesting, the people in the town, they came to Jesus and they said, 'Lord, could you please leave?' And you think, 'Wait a second! Jesus just saved them from this maniac that was plaguing their countryside for years and now they've asked Jesus to leave. Why?' They were more interested in the financial - there was a terrible plunge in the stock market, you might say, after all those pigs went off the cliff. And they were more concerned about what that meant. Or maybe they thought, 'Maybe if we stick around, Jesus is going to save us from our devils too.'

Have you considered that, if this man had thousands of devils in him and he was obviously disturbed, by the way he dressed and where he lived and how he acted, but what if a person only had five or ten devils? Could they pass around in the crowd and you might not even know it? Periodically, as with this week, you'll hear about some massacre, and then some news reporter will go up to the neighbor of the perpetrator and they'll say, 'What was he like?' And they'll say, 'Well, we thought he was nice enough.' Having no idea that person may have been harassed by a century - a centurion of devils - a hundred devils- twenty devils. We're all harassed. Maybe they thought they were next and they said, 'Jesus can you please leave?'

Now this is very important. When they asked Jesus to leave, what did He do? It says he got in the boat. Wow, wouldn't you hate to be in the resurrection and find out that Jesus came to your borders, He saved the most lost person in the country, and then, instead of thanking Him, you asked Him to leave? Jesus will not stay where He is not welcome. And if we ask Him to leave, He does not force Himself on us. God is love. He wants to win us with His love. You cannot force love on somebody. Sometimes we have a little schizophrenic relationship with Jesus, you know, we say, 'Oh Jesus, please, I'm having these problems. Come into my life. I've got this big test. I need you in my life to help me. I need a job. I've got to find out - I've got this health problem. Lord, please come into my life.' And then things will smooth out and then we'll be tempted and we'll say, 'Jesus, you may want to excuse yourself right now. Lord, you're making me uncomfortable. Could you please leave?' And it's almost like we have a revolving door in our hearts. It's kind of sad that we ask Jesus to leave and then ask Him to come back in.

The good news is, when they ask Him to leave, He'll leave, which means if you ask Him to come in, He'll come. In fact, Revelation tells us - He says, 'I stand at the door and knock and if any man opens the door, I will come into him and I will sup with him and he with Me.' The Lord wants to come into your life. You know, this is such an incredible story because the Bible tells us that Jesus, as He was getting in the boat to leave, He said to that man, the man said, 'Lord, let me go with you.' I think Jesus covered him after he washed him - kind of like a baptism - He covered him with His own robe. Where'd he get his clothes? I don't think he carried it in a backpack. And he says, 'Lord, let me go with you.' And Jesus said, 'No, I didn't save you so you could just ride around in a boat with me.' That's the way a lot of Christians understand salvation. They come to the Lord. They go to church. And then they go to church. And then they go to church. And they just sail around with Jesus. Jesus said to that man, 'I want you to go - go back home. Tell your friends and family what wonderful things God has done for you.' And the Bible tells us that that's what he did. He went out and he began to tell everybody what wonderful things God had done for him.

Now this is a beautiful story and it's very precious because it demonstrates the two opposite extremes that you find. Jesus is God filling a man - Jesus is a man possessed with the spirit of God. Christ - the name Christ - means 'Christos' - the anointed. The Messiah - that's the Jewish phrase for 'the anointed.' Anointed with what? Anointed with the Holy Spirit. At the baptism of Jesus, when He began His ministry, He was filled with the Holy Spirit, because you can't do the Christian work without the Christian spirit. So Christ is filled with the spirit of God. This man is filled with the spirit of the devil. I see some kids sitting down front here. You guys know - who's the strongest man in the Bible? Do you know? Someone say Hercules? No. (Laughter) Samson. Who's the strongest man in the New Testament? Not too many people are breaking chains, but one - when the spirit of the Lord came on Samson, he had supernatural strength and he could break ropes, and he could push over buildings and slay thousands of people.

When the spirit of the devil came over this man, he had a strength too, but it was a strength of evil. He is filled with power and the spirit of the devil. These are the two opposites and they're on the shore that day - the disciples, in the boat, had a front row seat of what's going to happen. You've got the battle between a man filled with God and you've got a man who is filled with the devil. And all of the angels were watching. What's going to happen? Who's going to change who? One's clothed with righteousness and one is naked and covered with scars and chains and surrounded by death. You know, everything in this story, it speaks of what is unclean. I touched on it, but - pigs are unclean, blood was unclean, according to the Bible - this man was cutting himself, graves were unclean. It's all saying, 'Unclean, unclean, unclean.' This man is a picture of not just you and me when - you know, in a lost condition. It's a picture of a lost world. Jesus crossed that stormy sea. He saves this one man and then He gets in His boat and He leaves. Christ crossed the universe - after calming the raging sea, he then calms a raging soul. And what He does for that man he wants to do for each one of us. He wants to transform our lives.

This is a whole - the whole gospel is encapsulated in this incredible story. And as the Lord broke his chains and set him free, and cleansed him and covered him and commissioned him - that's what He wants to do for each one of us. Now you may not know it, but this - this is a true story 2,000 years ago and it's still a true story today. And this story is especially precious to me because I was that man. I lived, up in the mountains, naked, using drugs - I was one of these young people that got mixed up with the wrong people, and parents multiple divorces, and had a brother who was gravely ill. And just went down the drug scene and rebelled and tried to find some purpose and petty crime - 'til I found myself up in the mountains a big zero, living like a mad man. Quite literally I went running out of the hills, out of my mind one time, on drugs and was arrested. I said that Arabs were taking over Palm Springs. And they weren't. Not back then. But I just was - I was a wild man. And I found a Bible up in the cave. I wanted to read the Bible so I could argue with Christians. And I started reading the Bible and, as I read the stories in the Bible, I realized there's a power here - and I was an atheist. I had no intention of believing it, but there was something supernatural about this book and I saw that it was changing me. And I went from being, you know, drugs and alcohol and cigarettes - and I had all these addictions and problems - I had chains and little by little, as I kept coming to Jesus - in spite of my weakness I kept coming - He broke the chains. He cleansed me. And I'm not - He's still working on me - Don't misunderstand. But He cleansed me. He accepted me - and then He gave me a work to do.

You know what he told this man to do? He said, 'Go tell what great things God has done for you.' Do you think that man, when he showed up on the streets of Decapolis, all cleaned up, and they said, 'Is this that crazed demoniac that has been haunting our territory all these years?' And he said, 'I want to tell you what happened to me. I came to Jesus.' This is the Son of God. He knew He was the Son of God because he heard the devils that knew Him on a firsthand basis - and he said, 'I came to Him just like I was. I had faith in Him that He could help me and He did. And what He did for me, He can do for you. He can clean you up. He can set you free. He can give you joy. He can give you everlasting life.' And the change in this man's life was so dramatic and so radical, the Bible says, in the Gospel of Luke, that when Jesus returned - sounding like He came back to this region - they were all waiting for Him because this one man, who would have been the biggest reject in the community, God was able to use the lowest person - the most hopeless person - to absolutely transform the whole territory.

Jesus went into the area and He reached one person. And through reaching that one person, He was able to transform so many others. Well, friends, not only is this story true - because of what He's done in my life, you know, to me it's always amazing when I see how God has taken me, over the last 40 years - 40 years ago I gave my heart to Jesus up in the hills, living - running around naked like a kook - and I came to Jesus and He has changed me and He sent me out telling others what the Lord did for me. I still can't believe they pay me to do it because I was doing it for free until I found out you can get paid to do it as well. (Laughter) And that's what every believer ought to be doing.


>>We all have, really, two choices. We've got Christ and Satan. You've got God and the devil. You've got light and you've got darkness. He goes by many names. Jesus calls him the Prince of this World, Satan, Lucifer, Apollyon, Beelzebub, Master of Darkness, the Deceiver - there is an evil power in this world. Do you know that? It's very real and your only safety against his devices is by having Christ in your heart. You cannot fight him on your own. Jesus said 'He that is not with Me is against Me.' The devil is out there to rob and to kill and to destroy as many as he can and he will seek to enslave and he wants us to self-destruct. You see, the reason the devil's doing that is because the devil, before he fell, he knew God. He knew what it was like to love God. He knows that God is love and, while the devil doesn't feel love anymore, he knows that God loves us and the devil wants to hurt God by hurting us. What would hurt a person more, if they were a parent - to hurt them or to hurt their child? The devil knows that God loves the world. God so loves you - He so loves me - He sent His Son that we won't perish, but He wants us to have everlasting life. But we need to come. 'Oh Pastor Doug, I've got these problems. I'm weak. I've got these addictions. I've got these chains. I've got these obstacles. I've got these habits. How could I come to Jesus?' Really, do you think you have an excuse not to come to Christ? If that man could have enough faith to come to Jesus, then can anybody come? If Jesus would receive that man, will He receive you?


>>And that's what these meetings are all about. We want to encourage you - show you through these stories of the Bible - these portraits of faith in the Bible, that your life can be transformed by the power of God's word. Now, I don't know where you are in your relationship with Jesus, those of you who are watching, some of you may have come to the Lord before but you've drifted over the years - you've been backsliding, or the devil's got his chains on you again and you feel those haunting voices in your head. You can come just like you are. And, you know, there's no time like the present. Christ was only on that shore for a matter of hours and then He left. But in that time, that man came when he saw the opportunity - when he saw Jesus, he came like he was. And each of you can make a decision right now that you want to come to Jesus just like you are. If you received Him, He'll receive you. (Soft piano music) He'll cleanse you. He'll set you free. He'll clothe you. He'll heal your wounds. And then He gives you a work to do - He gives you a purpose for your life. And there is no greater work than coming to Jesus like you are and then going for Jesus. And, in closing, I'd just like to pray with you and ask - there may be some of you here now, some of you who are watching, and you'd like to say, 'You know, I've heard the Holy Spirit through His word tonight and I want to make that decision to invite Jesus into my heart - to get a new beginning - to be set free - to be ready for Christ's return.’ What did that man do? He went and told everybody what God had done for him and it says, 'When Jesus came back they were waiting for Him.' Is Christ coming back?


>>Do you want to be ready?


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