New Year’s Message 2017 – by The Most Reverend Hannah Caroline Faal-Heim, Presiding Bishop of The Gambia, The Methodist Church The Gambia
Jan 4, 2017, 10:57 AM
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Like 19:10)
A demon-possessed man who lived “in the tombs” was in a bad shape; it was a pitiful sight! He had a gang of demons living in him that called itself Legion – which was a Roman military term for between 3.000 to 6.000 soldiers. By that we must understand that they were many. The demon-possessed man was helpless in that state; he was at the mercy of such an evil force. All the assistance he had received amounted to nothing. In fact, “… no one could bind him anymore not even with a chain.” (Mark 5:3)
Every attempt to control him was futile. Each time he would break himself loose. He was so powerful, “No one was strong enough to subdue him.” (verse 5) Inhabited by these demons, this man was reduced to nothing. He was helplessly and hopelessly doomed to a life of despair without any likely solace in sight - a state of constant torment.
He had lost all his dignity having been separated from his family in the first place; then, he had to make the graveyard his home. “For a long time he had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.” (Luke 9:27) Worse still he would cut himself with stones, inflicting serious body injury on himself.
We do not know the name of the demon-possessed man. It is not of great importance because He could have been anyone of us. The evil one would treat any of us the same way anyway. He has no regard for God-loving people or his followers either. His goal is to make you his victim by any means possible. Imagine that multitude of demons molesting this man in his body! Just you try and figure out the degree of torment, discomfort and mental torture he had to endure.
Well, demons never intended to make it easy for us in the first instance. Their motive is to create massive confusion and disorder, to upset the order God has put in place - their primary target being believers. Our Lord Jesus alluded to him as: “The thief (who) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; ….” (John 10:10) That was the fate of this man until our Lord Jesus came into the region of Gerasenes, and met with him.
Demons are fallen angels, ‘fallen from heaven’ which was their former abode. They are a formidable, destructive and oppressive force, from whom one has to be delivered once they take residence in your body. We invite demons when we wander or stray into their zone of operation without any divine protection. That divine protection is lost when we fail to realise the God image in us. When we drop our guards and continue in sin we leave the door open for demons to gain entry.
The only power the demons dread is divine. It is no wonder after recognising our Lord Jesus that Legion (the demon) screamed at the top of its voice, saying: “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you would not torture me!” (verse 7)
Each time we toy with sin or harden our hearts to the Word of God, we become vulnerable to the type of spirit we have indulged ourselves in. By our lifestyles we chase God’s spirit away and leave an empty house for the demons to occupy. The status of this man depicts what can happen to us when our sinful nature makes way for Satan’s cohorts to infiltrate the camp of its sworn enemy. The more we give into sin, the more we allow the devil access into our whole being to gradually destroy its very fabric.
We identify with the demon(s) that inhabits us. If we lie the lying spirit; we steal, it is the spirit of theft and so on and so forth. There are diverse spirits – for every sin a spirit - the spirit of prostitution, lying, disobedience, deaf and dumb spirits; the spirit of death and the spirit of servitude. All these spirits are actively engaged in the race “to steal, kill and destroy.”
Some situations may seem desperate and hopeless, but do not lose faith, help is on the way. Our Lord Jesus’ mission is to save sinners from the clutches of the devil. He said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) The abundant kind of life is what our Lord Jesus offers.
There is an on-going supernatural struggle between Jesus and Satan. While Satan seeks to destroy the human beings they inhabit, Jesus has come to liberate them from and give people power over Satan’s control. Demons are Satan’s messengers but they are powerless against those who trust in God. The Bible teaches that if we resist the devil he would flee from us. (James 4:7)
Our Lord Jesus delivered this man from the hands of the demons and sent the latter into a herd of about 2,000 pigs that were in the vicinity and they “rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.” (Mark 5:13b) This brought economic loss to its Gentiles owners who were mad at Jesus. So they begged him to leave.
At this point, the demon-possessed man had recovered; and “When they came to Jesus they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind: …” (Luke 8:35)
It was hard for the villagers to believe that the man who was possessed was now ‘in his right mind;’ totally delivered from the grip of the demons – a manifestation of what Jesus can do in our lives. How ever hard the battle may be, let us not lose faith. Jesus brought relief to many who were under the yoke of the devil because He alone can save.
When in distress, call upon the Lord. The psalmist puts it thus: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.” (Psalm 18:6) Call now! He is just a prayer distance away!