November 10, 2011
Jesus and Unclean Spirits
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As you read through the Gospels, you begin to see that the evil spirits recognized Jesus right away and feared Him because of His power over them. We will read today about an unclean spirit and its words to Jesus.
Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
The Unclean Spirit. In Mark 1:23, we read about a man with an unclean spirit (“ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ“). We see in the Gospel of Mark that a human being can have a separate and distinct spiritual being take up residence within his or her physical body. In Mark 5:2, we observe the same phrase used to describe the unclean spirit in the Gerasene demoniac. Mark used the term “unclean spirit” synonymously with “demon” (compare Mark 6:7, “unclean spirits” (“τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων“) with Mark 6:13, “demons” (“δαιμόνια“) and, likewise, Mark 7:25, with Mark 7:26). The relationship between the unclean spirit and the human host is that of master and servant. Mark describes the unclean spirit as “in” (“ἐν“) the man, or that the man has (“ἔχοντα“) the unclean spirit within him (Mark 7:25 and Mark 9:17). The unclean spirit gains physical control of the body (rendering the host mute in Mark 9:17, for example). In Mark 1:23, we will also see the unclean spirit use the vocal chords of the host to speak. The unclean spirit cried out (“ἀνέκραξεν“) to Jesus in the synagogue. Mark recorded several of these loud outbursts from unclean spirits in Mark 3:11 (“shout” (“ἔκραζον“)), Mark 5:7 (“shouting with a loud voice” (“κράξας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ“)), and Mark 9:26, (“crying out” (“κράξας“)). When you deal with people making loud outbursts, and acting spiritually strange, you may want to consider that you are dealing with an unclean spirit. Mark carefully distinguished mental illness which Jesus healed from the ministry of exorcism, where Jesus cast out the demons. In Mark 1:32, we see that people brought the “sick” (“τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας“) and also those people demon-possessed (“τοὺς δαιμονιζομένους“). Do not imagine that demons do not exist and the New Testament writers mistook mental illness for demon possession. The demons in the Bible confronted Jesus and Jesus overpowered them. He gave that same authority over demons to His disciples (Mark 6:7). In passing, notice in Mark 1:23, that the man with the unclean spirit may have been a visitor in the synagogue and not a member, because the verse states it was “their” synagogue, and not the synagogue of the demon-possessed man. People with unclean spirits may also appear in our churches, as members or visitors. So, keep in mind that we still have demons in the world today, and they still seek to possess men. As believers, we do not struggle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against powers, against the world forces of darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!”
What Business? When unclean spirits encountered Jesus, they immediately recognized Him spiritually (Mark 1:24). In this case, the unclean spirit spoke to Jesus and questioned Him. The humans in the room had already been amazed at the teaching with authority of Jesus. The unclean spirit in the room, within the man, had a greater understanding of Jesus from the spiritual perspective. The phrase “What business do we have” (“Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί“) loosely translates the phrase “what to me and to you?,” meaning, what do we have to do with each other now? The demon gives words to its great concern over the presence of Jesus.
Have You Come To Destroy Us. Please take note that the demon recognized Jesus as the human coming from Nazareth, the place where Jesus was raised. In other words, the demon recognized Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh. Just because the Son of God wore flesh, the demon had acute spiritual perception in recognizing Jesus not only according to the flesh, but also as the Holy One of God, as we will see below. Notice that the top concern of the demon was destruction. The demon implied that it knew that Jesus had complete power when it said: “Have you come to destroy (“ἀπολέσαι“) us?”. Did you notice the term “us” here? The demon voiced concern over the destruction of “us.” Jesus certainly had the power to destroy all demons at any time. Perhaps this single demon meant that it was concerned about the destruction of all demons by Jesus in that instant. It certainly knew that Jesus could have destroyed all of them, but it did not know how and when that destruction might take place. When you think about demons, remember that the demons lived in fear of Jesus, and His power to destroy them at will. While they may influence human lives, and take up residence in humans, we know that the power of Jesus Christ reigns supreme over all demons.
The Holy One of God. The unclean spirits not only recognized Jesus as Jesus the Nazarene, but they also knew Him as the Holy One of God, possessing all the power needed to destroy them at His will (Mark 1:24). So often we look at people and do not see them spiritually at all. The Lord Jesus looked beyond the skin of people, and saw their hearts, minds and spirits. He saw all of them instantly, and knew all about them. When He looks at us today, He knows all about us. Unclean spirits also look into our lives and seek a place to inhabit. They roam about, passing through waterless places, seeking rest, but not finding it (Matthew 12:43). A single unclean spirit may leave a person, and then return with seven spirits more wicked than itself, so that the last state of the person may be worse than being possessed by only one wicked spirit (Matthew 12:43-45). We should take courage that Jesus has all power over all evil spirits, and offers us words of encouragement: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
So we learn more about Jesus and unclean spirits today.
● Unclean spirits recognized the Son of God as both Jesus of Nazareth and the Holy One of God.
● Unclean spirits feared that Jesus would destroy them by His supreme power.
● Jesus intended for His disciples to understand the reality of unclean spirits, and part of their education included dealing with unclean spirits.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I am aware that unclean spirits still confront us and we struggle against them. We resist the devil and his demons through the power of Christ who triumphs over them. Demons fear Christ Jesus, and we love Him because He saved us from the wrath to come and transforms our lives right now by leading us by our hands. He delivers us from evil every day. Will you walk without fear of unclean spirits by the power of Christ working within you today?