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About six months after Jesus’ first recorded deliverance, casting demons out of the man in the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37), one of His major confrontations with demons occurred. He was about half way through His three year public ministry. Unlike most of the other occasions, when the demonized person came to Jesus, this time He went to them.

Jesus left the crowds He was ministering to in order to take a boat across the Sea of Galilee. He wanted to go help a man who couldn’t come to Him. Satan didn’t want Him to go free that man so he sent a storm to sink the boat. Jesus spoke to the storm and got safely to the other side.

When Jesus got there He was met by a man with an evil spirit, actually many demons afflicted this man. Matthew 8:28 says there were two demonized men present, but Mark and Luke only refer to the one who was the spokesman. By looking at the lives these men were living we can see some of the symptoms of demonizing.

Symptom 1: Darkness and death. These men lived in a graveyard, probably in caves in the limestone cliffs by the lake. Dead bodies were placed in these caves to decay, so it was a very unnatural way to live (Mark 5:3, 5; Luke 8:29). God is light and life, but Satan and his demons are all about death and darkness. They are attracted to death and darkness, and bring death and darkness wherever they go.

Symptom 2: Anger and violence. Demons fuel violence and anger, and that characterized these men (Mark 5:3-4; Luke 8:29; Matthew 8:28). They attacked whomever came nearby. Demons love pain and destruction, and they enjoy using humans to bring suffering and misery to others. This can be physical, mental or emotional abuse of any form.

Symptom 3: Out of control. These men didn’t have control of their actions (Mark 5:5). They would cry out and continually did evil. Demonizing takes control away from a person and motivates them to do what the demons want them to do.

LESSON FOR TODAY: Demons can never take 100% control of a person’s free will, but over time they can build so much influence over a person that the person seems to be unable to resist. No matter what, no matter how strongly a person is controlled by demons, he or she still has a free will to reach out to Jesus. Demons can never take away their free will. That is the key to deliverance, especially for those who are greatly controlled. The demonized person MUST want to be free. If they don’t, no one can force deliverance on them against their will. Pray not that they would be delivered, for God won’t force their free will, but pray they would see the facts clearly and make a decision for God, however small it may seem. Deliverance is not done by the one ministering to the demonized, but by Jesus responding to the free will of the demonized person. Jesus chooses to use us as His vessel to bring this about, but it all depends on the will of the demonized.

When Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee and landed they immediately came to Him and knelt before Him(Mark 5:1-8). The demons recognized He was God. Perhaps the men did as well, or somehow sensed something different about Him. Despite the terrible control the demons had, they still have free will to choose to come to Jesus or not.

LESSON FOR TODAY: The demons could not prevent these men from coming to Jesus. No matter how many demons or how strong the influence, God always makes sure the person still can make a free will choice to move away from the demons and towards God should they choose to do so. No one is helpless, locked in – not unless they choose for it to be that way. (see Symptom 3. Out of Control. above for more information about a demonized person’s free will).

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