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The Authority and Power of Christ (2)

 

Matthew 8:28-34; 2 Peter 1:3-9; John 14:9-14

 

Jim Davis

 

“The great danger in education today is the fact that we have failed to see the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

 

“We train the head and let the heart run wild.

 

“We allow culture and character to walk miles apart, stuffing the head with mathematics and languages – leaving manners and morals out of the picture.” -Theodore H. Palmquist

 

The purpose of education is to reveal our need to change, but education alone doesn’t change anything. Education may only bring frustration as we recognize our need to change but feel as though we are locked into a changeless powerless life.

 

I was talking to a woman this past week that was afraid she couldn’t change. I walked into a place of business and was greeted with Happy New Year. The date was January 4, 2004. The lady happily exclaimed it was her birthday, and she was even happier that she hadn’t taken a drink of liquor all year—seemingly that was a great victory for her. She expressed to me that she was hoping she would make it through her birthday without taking a drink.

 

I finished my business and upon leaving I expressed my hopes for her to be successful in not taking another drink. But she said in an optimistic tone, “I don’t know what the day will bring; but I have learned that if I don’t make any plans, I won’t get let down.” She was locked into failure for she was making no plans to overcome her problem. She felt it was beyond her control. She had the idea that “whatever will be, will be.”

 

I thought, “How sad that her fear of failure keeps her from making any plans to overcome. Her fear of failing keeps her confined to the realm of defeat. She recognizes the demons in her life, but she feels hopeless, and doesn’t want to let herself down by making plans to rise above them.” I couldn’t help but think—"Her problem is the same problem most of us have in facing the demons in our lives."

 

Discovering the power for change is the most crucial aspect of change. Christ’s authoritative power is the solution. Without Christ the demons will rob us of our sanity, and self-control as they rob us of the true joys of living. They seek to convince us that Christ has nothing to offer to one whose whole life is in bondage to the battles raging within and without.

 

Facing the Demonic World

 

I need to be convinced that the demons are as real as Christ. The demons are as real in my life as they were in the life of Christ. The demons in our lives are as real as the sacrifice of Christ.

 

Immediately after Christ’s baptism he was led up into the wilderness to face Satan head on. Satan has no doubt about Christ—he sought to destroy him before he began his ministry—he believes in Christ and trembles in his presence (James 2:19). Christ faced demons throughout his ministry in one manner or another. Amazingly the demons knew who he was. They feared him greatly.

 

Matthew 8:28-34

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"

 

30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."

 

32 He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. NIV

 

Today the devil's demonic powers may work in different ways from when the Lord was on earth, but they are at work just the same. One man is beset with pride; another, with lust; a third with a love for money. The difficulty is that we don’t see the problems we face to grow spiritually as demonic in nature. Yet, they are just as real as the messenger of Satan who was sent to torment the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7).

 

The Bible makes no allusions about the demons in your life.

 

Ephesians 6:10-14

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then . . . (NIV)

 

We need to look to the source of our problems. The furious battlefields you see in the images of the book of Revelation are the battlefields every generation faces. Our only consolation is that Jesus says hell will not prevail against his kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19). We must be as convinced of their onslaught against the kingdom gates as they are about the surety of Christ and his kingdom.

 

It’s not as difficult to see the demons making havoc of world peace as it is to see the demons in our own life. This is because these demons masquerade as angels of light.

 

We may strive to confine the demons to only one facet of our lives while we manage other facets well, but the demons want stay confined for long. They are stronger than you—they will eventually break the chains. They will break lose to torment and consume you.

 

Matthew reveals what happens the second time Christ meets demons head-on. This time Christ meets his enemy in a graveyard. These demon possessed men in Matthew’s account resided in the tombs—it was an apt place for the spiritually dead. The citizens of the country had driven them out of their presence. Mark’s gospel account of this story reveals the citizens’ attempt to chain them, but the demons broke the chains and haunted those who came by. They thought that if they could keep the local demons out of sight they would be out of mind.

 

How often do we seek to restrict the demons to the recesses of our minds? We strive to put them out of sight. We fool ourselves into thinking “out of sight out of mind.” We seek to restrain them, but they can’t be restrained. They must be driven out. Seeking to chain demons to the catacombs of our minds only makes their rule more deceitful and powerful. We must face our demons head on.  The demons chained in the catacombs of our minds prevent the knowledge of Christ from invading our hearts as they make us afraid to face the truth about ourselves.

 

Society at large offers no hope to those fighting with the demons. Society seeks to restrain them, but offers no help to relieve the bondage. Society seeks to isolate troubled individuals through threats, but threats are unable to change a person. Society seeks to diminish the impact of the demons on our lives by succumbing to their influence. Society convinces itself that the demons wishes for our lives aren’t all that bad. By minimizing them society pretends they don’t exist.

 

To fight the demons of immorality society hands out birth control, if that fails society offers abortion to teenagers without the consent of their parents. Society offers counseling on how to live with sexually transmitted diseases once contracted through immoral practices. Society provides same sex marriages to those so inclined, or no marriage for those who want to live together without commitment. Society deals with an angry society by taking away our guns so we want kill each other.

 

Society allows the demons to rage on as society seeks to change everything but what needs changed, and in essence that changes nothing. It allows the demons to break any bonds to roam freely up and down our streets. Our biggest problem is that we want to change everything but us.

 

The demons convince us to forget about them as we push them into the recesses of our minds.  Have you ever noticed the darkness of a drug infested neighborhood. I see them portrayed in movies and I wonder how could anyone making so much money selling dope end up in those dark depressing places. It’s because it’s the demons dwelling place. It’s only natural for those who are drawn to them to live there. It is little wonder why they want to stay on drugs. Waking up from a drug high in places like that would make you want another fix just to cope with such a depressing place. The demoniacs in Jesus story are living in such a place. Jesus’ story is too real to be doubted.

 

Demons are also alive in high class places. They hide behind the luxurious surroundings deceiving us into believing the luxury we live in is a sign of their absence. The persuade us to worship the demons named—Health, Wealth and Prosperity.

 

How do we Face the Demons?

 

Jesus can do the same thing for you that he did for the demoniacs—he can drive them out of your life. Jesus Christ today has power over Satan (John 12:31; 14:30; Colossians 2:15). God’s divine power is available today. But you must be willing to face your demons.

 

2 Peter 1:3-4

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

 

God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him . . .” But Peter emphasizes the knowledge of God is given so that “you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 

 

The key to discovering God’s power is participating in his divine nature. Participating in God’s divine nature is to allow God to develop his character in you—it is to become one with God—now that is powerful. How do we participate in God’s divine nature? Listen as Peter further explains:

 

2 Peter 1:5-9

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. NIV

 

God’s supernatural power is given to those who seek to use the knowledge of God to live productive Christian lives by allowing God to reproduce his character in them. Adding goodness to your faith—and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, and to self control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love, makes our knowledge in the Lord productive.

 

God's power comes as we strive to allow God’s word to become effective in our hearts. It becomes effective when we seek to allow God to reproduce his nature—character within our hearts. When we allow God to do so God’s power becomes our personality reality.

 

Our greatest difficulty is that we labor to be productive but we don’t depend upon the authoritative power of Christ for deliverance. Church of Christ members are working people—to us faith and work are synonymous--they are. But do we depend upon Christ or our work to accomplish God’s will? Do we pray for God’s intervention to be productive? Are we really praying people?

 

I was reading an excerpt from a well know author that stated the church of Christ believes almost solely in work. We are not praying people. He made this statement: “When we work, we work; when we pray God works.” When God works Christ authoritative power becomes our reality.

 

You can’t handle your demons all alone. The demons, Shame and Guilt, may persuade you to hide the other demons in your life because of shame and guilt. They convince you that you are all alone, and it would be a shame to admit their presence. When they do this they confine you to a gruesome debilitating life of guilt. You don’t have to hide the demons in the recesses of your mind. Allow Christ to face the demons head-on as you depend upon him to make his knowledge productive in your life.

 

Jesus reveals in the following story what happens when we seek to drive out, or restrain the demons on our own power without striving to allow divine knowledge to become productive in our hearts.

 

Matthew 12:43-45

43 "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." NIV

 

Knowledge collected in the mind that isn’t allowed to penetrate our hearts and lives only cleans out a place for the demons to invade.

 

One reason we don’t want to open our eyes to behold Satan’s onslaught against us is because we are too frightened. What Jesus did for these two Gadarenes he will do for anyone else who needs him.

 

Jesus came to demonstrate his power over the demons seeking to hold us in bondage. What Jesus did for the demoniacs during his earthly ministry is an indication of what his authoritative power can do for each of us.

 

The demons will continue to attack Christ’s kingdom gates. As long as you are in the kingdom the demons will be present. Jesus promises us that hell will not prevail, but his need to give us his reassuring promise assures us they will seek to prevail. They will always be tormenting demons on the prowl in our lives. Many of their names are familiar to us: Fear, Discouragement, Anger, Bitterness and Hopelessness these are the most persistent demons.

 

We must seek the help of God through prayer to make the knowledge of his Son productive in our lives. We may spend all our time cultivating the soil, planting the seed and irrigating the crop, but we need God to make our work productive. We access God through prayer.

 

Matthew 17:14-20
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."

17 "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." NIV

 

You must develop a mustard seed faith in God's power to drive out the demons in your life.

 

Motives for Productive Lives

 

Jesus promises us that whatever we ask in his name, he will do.

 

John 14:9-19

9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

 

15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  NIV

 

We may want to take these verses to mean Christ will give us anything we want. It’s not what he is saying. This is what he is saying—the key to getting powerful answers to our prayers is listening to what heaven is saying. What is it God is asking of you? Seeking to do what God is asking us to do as we pray to that end is the key to receiving powerful answers to prayer. Your prayer life may be amiss because you are not seeking God’s will—because you are not striving to be productive with what knowledge you have.

 

Failing to use Bible knowledge productively is one of the biggest reasons Bible study is so boring to so many. Bible study becomes exciting when it is applied to life’s battle against the onslaught of the demons. It's exciting when we study solely to hear and obey heaven’s will.

 

Jesus continued to reiterate throughout his earthly ministry that his words were not his own—they were from the Father—listening to the Father was the key to his authoritative power. Paul emphasized the words he spoke and lived came from the Father—his wisdom and the power it commanded came from God (1 Corinthians 2:1ff). The only way we can experience God’s power for living is by listening to what heaven is saying.

 

We ought to allow the reality of hell to motivate us to face our demons head on. Hell is so bad that these demons don’t want to go back. If you don’t believe in hell you ought to listen to the demons testimony about it.

 

Mark 5:6-13

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" 8 For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"

 

9 Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

 

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

 

11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. NIV

 

Jesus gave the demons what they wanted, but I strongly believe they ended up where they didn’t want to go. They were like many of us whom they have convincingly persuaded to take a certain direction in life assuring us we wouldn’t end up destroyed, but we have ended up where the demons persuaded us we wouldn’t.

 

What can we do when this happens? Face the demons head on with the authoritative power of Christ.

 

James says, “Demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19). The trembling of  the demons reveals the depth of their soul shaking faith in Christ. The demons expressed their belief in the deity of Christ as they proclaimed “What do you want with us, Son of God.” They expressed their faith in the future judgment of Christ as they asked, “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” They expressed their belief in the authority and power of Christ as they proclaimed, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” They believed in prayer, for they are asking Christ to grant them their wish.

 

There is a difference in the demon’s faith and a Christian’s faith. The faith of the demons leaves no doubt in their minds about their defeat—they are trembling at this moment about the very thoughts of it. The faith of Christians must leave no doubt about Christ victory for the Christian. The demons believe in the Christian’s victory—they know they are fighting Almighty Christ.

 

Conclusion:

 

I want to encourage you to face the demons in your life with Divine power. Accept Christ’s authority for your life—depend upon his power to overcome as you obey Christ.

 

Demons must obey Christ Word—Christ one word "Go!" expelled them from the men. You must obey the Word of Christ—there is none other name or authority under heaven by which you must be saved (Acts 4:12).

 

It begins by confessing Christ name as a name above every name. Confess his name to the world as you seek to repent of your sins depending upon the power of Christ for any true change. Die with Christ in baptism so that you can enter into his kingdom, which is his true church today. Remember Christ’s spiritual kingdom is a refuge for sinners—demons are pounding on its gates—only the power of Christ can keep them out. Claim Christ's power to resurrect your life for yourself as you are baptized into Christ today?

 

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