Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” (Mark 1:23-27)
This is the time of year for “spring cleaning.” From our bedroom to our garage, many of us are thinking about and making plans for cleaning up our closed up winterized houses. We are cleaning house because they are in chaos. Not everything, but some things. Some things need to be kept and other things need to be thrown out.
Jesus came into church on a Sabbath day to do some house cleaning. Our passage indicates that a church member, in the presence of Jesus, manifests a demon, and all hell breaks loose. Jesus calmly sweeps up a mess and brings order to chaos.
This is what Jesus loves to do in our lives, bring order out of chaos. All of us have chaos. All of us have areas in our lives that are not lined up with God’s plan. All of us need a spring-cleaning once in a while.
The question I’m always asked is “Can a Christian be demon possessed?” In other words, can someone who is born again in Christ have a demon? The answer is yes and no. (Don’t you just hate that answer?) Let me explain.
In understanding the question, we must first realize the terminology used. From movies like The Exorcist to the modern usage of a word, we can easily lose focus on meanings. If we realize that the term “demon possession” is an English translation of the Greek, from the vernacular of the 17th century, one can realize the confusion this phrase has created. “Possession,” by our modern usage, indicates complete ownership, title, and guardianship. Thus, using this word, I don’t believe that a true Jesus follower can be owned, titled by, or guarded over by a demon. As possessors of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be possessed by a demon.
Yet, if we look at the true meaning of the Greek word, daimonizomai, it does not mean “ownership,” but rather, “to be influence by.” A better translation would be “demon influenced”, “demonized” or “demonization.”
Thus, if we render the true meaning to our word and realize that the man in the synagogue had an unclean spirit, in actuality, was one who was being influenced by an unclean spirit, then the answer to our original question is yes. Yes, any believer in Christ can be affected, impacted, and influenced by darkness. All of us are susceptible.
An unclean spirit had influenced this church going man. It doesn’t mean that everything in his life was unclean. It doesn’t mean that he was running around with his clothes torn off like some kind of crazed lunatic. If that were the case, no self-respecting Jewish Scribe would have let him in the church service in the first place. No, this man is in basically in his right mind, but an area of his life is not clean. He has a part of his heart given over to the influence of an unclean spirit.
When we begin to face our demons, Jesus will clean house! Are you ready to face your stuff? Are you beginning to realize that you are not completely clean?
Eugene Peterson in Conversations, The Message Bible with his personal notes, writes about Proverbs 28:14,
What we really are cannot, in the end, be hidden. When we pretend to be better than we are, we become worse. But when we face the worst that is in us, something marvelously merciful happens: We become better than we are, better in fact than we ever hoped to be.
May this be true in your life today. Come out of the hidden places of your heart and face your demons. Let Christ clean house. It’s time for spring-cleaning.
On the Road,