Matthew 8

  28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

The theme for this passage is found in the latter part of 1 John 3:8. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” The background for this passage is that Jesus had just crossed the Sea of Galilee. While crossing that body of water, Jesus had calmed the storm that suddenly arose. By the power of His word, the winds and the waves of the sea were calmed, and His disciples were amazed. The disciples would continue to be astonished by Jesus, for when they had come to the side, into country of the Gadarenes, Jesus was confronted with two men who were demon possessed.

  29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

Concerning demons, C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and feel an excessive, unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

The words of Mr. Lewis are accurate. Those who dismiss the existence of demons do so at their own peril. Those who saturate their soul with demons are doomed to various forms of physical and mental sickness. American society is currently saturated with an excessive unhealthy interest in demons. This obsession is manifested in the occult, the rise of Spiritism, a willingness to worship Satan.  Society openly embraces witchcraft, demonic works of art, tarot cards, horoscopes, séances, books, music, movies, and the stage theater. Access to demonic influence, and total saturation with darkness, is just a click away on the web.

The Christian community is not immune by this morbid fascination. There is great interest in casting out demons, and trying to bind Satan. It seem like Satan has been loosed out of his prison (Rev. 20:7).

The unusual interest in the occult has followed the death of rationalism. On college campuses young people are taught about a post-modern era whereby there is no ultimate truth. Your truth may not be my truth. All truth is relevant. Rationalism is dead.

Of course most people do not actually believe this philosophy, nor practice it in their daily lives, No one would ever board an airplane if they really believed the pilot had a different truth about how to fly a plane than the rules of aerodynamics, and rational thought mandates. But people like to talk about their philosophical biases, and teach the death of rational thought.

Another reason for the rise of interest in the occult, is the mystery of human existence. Who are we? Where did we come from? Are there other beings in the universe? Alan Bean is one of twelve men who have walked on the moon.

There is still another reason for the interest in demonology, and that is the influence of Eastern religions. There are many gods and goddesses, and evil spirits in the Eastern religion that can be accessed through drugs and meditation. Native Americans can testify to this as well.

Collectively these influences on society has led to novels and movies, such as The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, Rosemary’s Baby, and later, The Omen. Christian writers such as Frank E. Peretti continue to exploit the interest in demons with novels such as This Present Darkness.

So there is a great interest in Satan and his forces. The Bible validates the reality of Satan and demons, and reminds us that the Devil is at war with God, and His saints. There is a great battle that began in eternity past, when the Devil, known as Lucifer, declared he would be like the most High God, and was cast out of heaven. The conflict was brought to earth. A choice was presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Man sided with the Devil, and rebelled against God. But in matchless grace the Lord promised redemption, and the destruction of the Evil One. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

In the Revelation, the story is told of how Jesus did crush the head of the serpent, and won the victory over sin and death which Satan brought into the world. “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10).

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The healing of the two demon possessed, demonstrates that Jesus had authority and power to destroy the works of the Devil. Jesus is Lord of this world, and He is Lord of the underworld as well.

The human servants of the underworld, the two demon possessed men, reflected how Satan treats those who serve him.

First, the men dwelt in the tombs of the burial caves in the district of the Gadarnes or Gerasene, named after the town, Gerase. This town was located in land, from the Sea of Galilee. People who are demons possessed find it difficult to dwell in civilized places. They are fascinated with the dead, and the graveyard.

Second, the men did not wear any clothing. It is a characteristic of demonic activity to emphasize nudity over modesty, and full exposure over proper clothing.

Third, the men were angry men. They were fierce and unmanageable. They hated the world, and the world was terrified of them. Chains had been placed on the two men, to no avail. With demonic strength, the chains were broken allowing the men to continue to terrify the community. Then Jesus came and exercised divine authority. Jesus cast out the demons in the two men, gave them clothing, and restored them to their right minds.

The men were released from their demonic oppression because the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God with authority over them.

The demons also confessed their knowledge of something else, their future. The demons know there is coming the time when they will be cast forever into the pit of hell, and so they speak of “the time.” The demons recognize that their destiny rests in the hands of Jesus, as does your destiny and mine. All judgment has been committed into the hands of God.

Once the demons were cast out of the two men, the demons had a request, and it was a request. The demons knew Jesus was the Master of the universe. They could not tell Him what to do, or what they were going to do. They could only ask Jesus for permission to go elsewhere. Seeing a herd of swine in the distance, the devils asked Jesus for permission to possess the unclean animals.

  30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

  31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

The original text says, “Send us away into the herd of swine.” The herd numbered about 2,000. No doubt, a modern day Liberal who is a member of PETA will be offended, if they ever read this passage in the Bible. Nevertheless, one lesson that emerges is that people are of more value than pigs. People are more important than animals. Another lesson is that the Lord is sovereign over His creation and can do with it what He will. Third, the Jews in that area should not have been raising swine in the first place. The pigs were an unclean animal, and forbidden according to the Law of Moses. The destruction of this herd, according to the Law of Moses in force at the time, was justified.

  32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

The Lord’s dealing with the devils, and the Biblical revelation of them, must be taken by faith. Demons are spiritual entities and cannot be seen. Like the blowing of the wind, we can witness the effect demons have on individuals. If informed, we can witness the effect they have on animals which they possess, but the demons themselves are unseen. However, demons do manifest themselves in various ways. Sometime through irrational behavior, nudity, and anger, and at other times demons manifest themselves as angels of light. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14).

Some devils will come to us as a false apostle, or a deceitful worker of righteousness. While they are difficult to recognize, there are some telling signs. First, they preach another Jesus from the Jesus of the Bible. Second, they proclaim another spirit, other than the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Third, they preach another gospel other than the gospel of salvation by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God (2 Cor. 11:4). It is the False Angel of Light that, through his ministers, is able to lead people back into spiritual darkness and ultimate damnation.

One clear illustration of Satan appearing as an Angel of Light is found in Mormonism. Mormonism preaches another Jesus from the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of Mormonism is a Jesus who is not very God of very God, but a lesser god than the Father. Dr. Elmer Towns points out that in Mormon theology, “Christ as a pre-existent spirit was not only the spirit brother of the devil (The Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses, chapter 4, verses 1-4; Journal of Discourses, volume 13, page 232) but celebrated his own marriage to both “Mary and Martha, whereby he could see his seed before he was crucified,” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pages 259-260).

In addition to this concept, Brigham Young categorically stated that the sacrifice made upon the cross by Jesus Christ in the form of His own blood was ineffective for the cleansing of some sins” (Journal of Discourses, volume 3, page 246, volume 4, pages 219-220).

The spirit of Mormonism is different from the Holy Spirit of the Bible.

The gospel of Mormonism is a gospel of salvation by good works, and not by faith alone in Christ alone. The Mormon doctrine of salvation involves not only faith in Christ, but baptism by immersion, obedience to the teaching of the Mormon Church, good works and “keeping the commandments of God which will cleanse away the stain of sin,” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 2, page 4).

With the demons gone, Luke records something Matthew did not mention. “Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him” (Luke 8:38-39).

Jesus did not answer in a positive way the request of the man who had been delivered from the demons. Jesus did not say to the man, “Come with me.” Rather, Jesus sent him away.

In a surprising contrast, Jesus did answer the request of the demons. He said to them, “Go.”

Here is a lesson in petitioning the Lord.

Jesus answers some petitions by saying, “Yes.”

Jesus answers some petitions by saying, “No.”

Jesus answers some petitions by saying, “Wait.”

Jesus answers some petitions by giving specific instructions regarding His own decretive will.

  33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

  34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

The reaction of the city to the healing of the two demon possessed men, and the news of the destruction of the pigs, is both disappointing and illuminating.

The reaction of the city indicates that the people had no desire to see, or be with the Son of God. That is disappointing.

The reaction of the city shows that the people thought that pigs were more important than men. The material world was valued more than spiritual realities. That is illuminating. t

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