Mark 1:24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”

     Earlier this week, my wife and I went to a retreat.   A pastor was speaking to us about believing in Jesus and living out your faith.  He said; ‘Demons are the ‘best’ believers!’  This pastor quickly added that demons are the ‘best’ believers because they immediately recognize Jesus for who He is.  They know His Power and recognize His Authority.  They believe completely with no doubts.  But they will have nothing to do with Jesus’ transforming power. They don’t want any part of the Gospel!  Demons believe but they will never follow Jesus!

     We often associate horrific images with demons.   We think that anyone possessed by a demon will manifest a frightening, evil countenance that you can easily spot.  But what if demons don’t parade around like that in public any more.  If they did, we would place them in ‘mental health’ institutions where they would get better through a course of pharmaceuticals and cognitive behavioural therapy.

     The Bible tells us that evil is quite able to appear lovely; “. . . , for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:14,15)  Today, demons have figured out that there is no percentage in open nastiness.    Deception is more effective than intimidation.  Nice is the new wrapping for vice.

     Our churches, like the synagogue where Jesus met with this particular demon, are places where demons like to hang out – tormenting people quietly as they sit in the pews or deceiving people with fake spirituality and false gospels from the pulpit.  Matthew Henry recognized this terrible situation; “There are many in our assemblies who quietly attend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come with faithful ministers and holy doctrine, and by his convincing Spirit, they are ready to say, like this man, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth!”

     When put to it, am I ready to let go and allow the Gospel to conform me?  Am I ready to follow Jesus and let the old me be destroyed?  Am I ready to allow His Word to transform me so that I am no longer the person I was?  Jesus tells us plainly; “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)  The demon of indifference and self-love prevents and hinders but often in a polite and civil way in our churches.  Sadly, when demons do their work today, they do it quietly and in socially acceptable ways; “He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being destroyed by him.” (Matthew Henry)

     The telling mark of this demonic work in our fellowships is complacency and conceit.  Why change when we are just fine the way we are.  Lets not go ‘overboard’ like those other churches do!  Nobody will take us seriously if we stand for His Word and preach the Holy Bible – if we aren’t socially relevant our membership will continue to decline.  Intelligent modern minds just won’t put up with old fashioned Bible based views and morals.  Let’s not upset and push people away!

     Matthew Henry tells us that Jesus and His Gospel will stir everyone up; “When Christ by his grace delivers souls out of the hands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. This put all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine? A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it with contempt and neglect. If this were not so, the conversion of a notorious wicked man to a sober, righteous, and godly life, by the preaching of a crucified Saviour, would cause many to ask, What doctrine is this?”

     Jesus tells us that His Gospel will stir us up; “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)  People resist change!  Families work out ways of getting along and don’t want to change.  The best ‘lingo’ of damnation that a demon knows today is; “DON’T ROCK THE BOAT!”

     The hardest road to travel is the one Jesus calls us to because we will die on it; “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

     How will others hear this call if we ourselves refuse it?

     Praise the Lord!