(This “Application“ column goes with the Bible study for March 29, 2020: “Power Over Evil.”)
By David Faust
Jesus’ encounter with the man possessed by demons known as Legion is a strange-sounding story, but here are three practical lessons we can learn from it.
Satan is real; evil is devastating. The prince of darkness isn’t a childish myth. We struggle “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12). Demonic forces nearly destroyed the man. He was violent, self-destructive, and anti-social, and he lived in a cemetery. It’s naïve to deny Satan’s influence. Science and education alone cannot resolve all of our social ills. Many deadly ideas and destructive deeds detailed in the daily news can only be described as evil.
Christ can transform cultures and individuals. He came to “break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). At the cosmic level, the Son of God appeared “to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8), and this account demonstrates how Christ can change lives on an individual level. After encountering Christ, the man was “dressed and in his right mind.” His remarkable and undeniable transformation amazed the locals who knew him well (Mark 5:15). Jesus changed a scary cemetery dweller into a calm, reasonable person of peace.
In the eyes of many, economics matter more than spiritual freedom. The man’s neighbors were more concerned about their lost herd of swine than a lost soul’s redemption. Upset by their economic loss and unnerved by the Lord’s supernatural power, “the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (Mark 5:17).
CLEAR THINKING NEEDED
What kindness Jesus showed to this desperate man! Freed from Satan’s grip, the man begged to travel with Jesus, but instead the Lord urged him to go home and tell his own people “how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (vv. 18, 19). God’s mercy changed the man’s ghoulish misery into a good news ministry.
And notice: Jesus restored him to his right mind. The human mind has been a battleground ever since Satan attacked Adam and Eve by stirring confusion and doubt. Of course, this demon-possessed man was an extreme case, but on some level, conversion to Christ always involves being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
What does a renewed mind look like?
- It seeks to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
- It doesn’t dumb down the gospel. Instead, a renewed mind hungers and thirsts for righteousness, growing in faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).
- A renewed mind holds firm convictions, yet is open and teachable, eager to adopt new insights gleaned from Scripture.
- A renewed mind moves us to care for those with troubled minds who struggle with mental illness and emotional problems, providing prayer support, medical resources, spiritual shepherding, and counseling services to them and their families.
- A renewed mind worships the Lord and continually discovers additional facets of God’s glory that call forth praise. As the classic hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” reminds us, God is our “best thought, by day or by night.”
- It leads to clearer thinking, emotional healing, and deeper peace.
Christ releases us from Satan’s grip so we can love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Personal Challenge: This week tell someone who is not following Christ how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.