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Demons, Demons Everywhere

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In his outstanding sermon, Subdue, Rev. Peter Mills writes:

Pastor Mills: [In] Last Sunday['s gospel reading] a demoniac suddenly and brazenly interrupted Jesus’ Sabbath sermon in the synagogue of Capernaum. Modernly we tend not to give credence to demon possession. In first world countries our complacency is no doubt the result of Christianity’s missionary success and historic influence.

Pastor Kavouras replies: As hard as it is to believe when taking stock of the culture, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ still exerts a mighty influence over our nation and its people. As the nitrogen in the atmosphere prevents a conflagration every time a person lights a match so the Gospel, with its message of divine Light and Truth, suppresses the demons. Believe it or not: Things could be worse!

Pastor Mills: Still one only need look to places in the world where the church has been suppressed to see evil in the lives of benighted men and women. And if we look to our own devolving spiritual lives it is hard to deny loss of civility, love, and in public discourse an ascendant animus among men and women holding differing values and views.

Pastor Kavouras replies: In nations where the Gospel is excluded, such as fundamentalist Muslim nations, cruelty under the guise of strict justice and righteousness is the order of the day. Think, for example, of honor killings. The West is not far behind, as it spews the Gospel from its collective psyche at an alarming rate. Thus the troubling increase in demonic evil such as mass shootings, sexual violence, and the irrational narrative of those who are supposed to be the brightest and best among us.

Pastor Mills writes: In any event the profanity of a demoniac confronting Jesus in the synagogue is but paradigmatic of mankind’s problem in general, that by sin we are misshapen, unholy creatures, no longer authentically human in the image and reflecting the likeness of our Creator. We rage against the will of God in our lives and like the possessed man are hostages to an alien spiritual nature.

Pastor Kavouras replies: Though Jesus did not come into the world to fix it, but to redeem it, the Gospel has exerted a calming and civilizing influence wherever it holds sway. What else could happen when people in number turn away from their sins, find remission in the cross, and seek to walk with God each day?

What St. Paul writes is true: "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.(1 Corinthians 15:19). But let us never discount the temporal blessings the Gospel bestows. By "us" I mean two groups of people. First, let all people know, whether they hold the faith or not, that to give the Gospel free reign is to bless the world, and to rage against it is to curse the world. Secondly, the Baptized. As often as you practice your faith (by by right faith, right worship, and right living) you are lighting a candle, and chasing away the demons. As Scripture says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) And as the Lord himself says: Begone Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." Matthew 4:10

Jesus set you free from Satan's tyranny when he died on the cross. Don't submit again to the yoke of his slavery! Instead in the words of the hymn, "Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the Newborn King." (TLH #136) By so doing you have an effective hand in the noble quest of making the world a better place. Of leaving it better than you found it.

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Here's another outstanding account from St. Mark of Jesus doing battle with the demons. Though there is much here to ponder and to comment upon, the language used here (seen in the Greek, but not in the English) is verse 27 where it says of the boy everyone thought dead: Jesus took him by the hand and "resurrected" him.

That's because the Gospels are not merely religious information or historical reports, but church literature, which is to say: liturgical / worship literature. Scripture! To be read, heard and believed in the church gathered for holy worship. Thus, though the Lord's resurrection had not yet happened in earthly time, in heavenly time it is accomplished so that this child benefited by it. But that also means that we, 2,000 years later, also benefit by the Lord's resurrection. We have our share in it by baptism, and will have our full share when we are baptized into death, and raised again in a "world without end." In the mean time we are resurrected as often as the body and blood of Christ is offered us, and we confirm our faith in it by saying: Amen. Now we are on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus; we are raised from the death of this Valley of the Shadow of Death, and sit in heavenly places with Christ.

Mark 9:15-29 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." 19 And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23 And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29 And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven

The notion of demonic influence has been much on my mind lately. One forgets that they prowl around whispering and urging us to selfishness, pride, anger, and worse. It’s good to be reminded that they can be banished by the words and good actions of the faithful.

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