Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When the Strong Man Gets His Way

Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head…every rise of lust, might it have its course, would come to the height of villainy: it is like the grave, that is never satisfied.   -John Owen

If you want to see this principle in full force then look no further than the Gerasene demoniac.  His story is told most vividly in Mark 5.  Here is a man “with an unclean spirit living among unclean tombs surrounded by people employed in unclean occupations, all in unclean Gentile territory.”  (Pillar NT Commentary, Mark by James Edwards, 155) 

His humanity has been utterly destroyed.  The portrayal is more like that of a chained animal than a man created in the image of God.  This guy once had a home and a family but now he is tattered, bloodied, naked, and living among the dead.  He is a menace to himself and a menace to society. 

This is what happens when the “strong man” gets his way (Mark 3:26-27); humanity is destroyed and the image of God is darkened.  Who knows where or how it started, but somewhere along the way this man left himself open to “the strong man’s” possession.  And it left him completely broken. 

At this point I am confronted with the fact that his story is mine.  I have never ran naked like a wild man in a cemetery (at least that I remember); nonetheless, his story is mine.  I too opened myself up to “the strong man’s” possession.  For years I made sin my dear companion.  It looked cleaner than the demoniac’s tattered rebellion but the sin inside me desired to have me destroyed. 

My cemetery was depression; my rocks were pride, slander, filthy talk, sexual immorality, and hatred (of myself and others).  I wore clothes, but inside I was a naked unfettered demoniac. 

Then Jesus came. 

He is the one, the ONLY ONE, that can “bind the strong man and plunder his goods” (Mk 3:27).  Nobody else has the power to overturn sins curse.  Nobody else has the power to rebuke a storm, heal a demoniac, or to change my wicked heart. 

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:9).   And that he has done.  He has taken scores of “demoniacs” and turned them into disciples “clothed and in their right mind” (Mk. 5:15).

So, the next time that sin looks tempted may the Lord remind me of the loneliness of the cemetery.  May I be reminded that sin aims to strip me of humanity and place me right back there.  But may I also remember that I am no longer possessed by that strong man.  I am possessed by a STRONGER MAN, one in whose hand I can never be plucked from because there is no one stronger than this strong man. 

Redemption.  That’s what happens when The Stronger Man gets His way.


I am interested in this graphic novel by John Piper:  The Gadarene.  You can read the Advent poem that it is based from free online.  Here is a sample; it is part of the prayer of the demoniac’s wife: 

I think that you should ask the Lord
To lift his voice and wield his sword
Against the legion powers that bind
And blind your daddy's broken mind."

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