“They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. As He stepped out onto land, a madman from town met Him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery.

When he saw Jesus he screamed, fell before Him and bellowed, ‘What business do you have messing with me? You’re Jesus, Son of the High God, but don’t give me a hard time!’ (The man said this because Jesus was ordering the unclean spirit out of him). Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles but, crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.” Luke 8:26-29.

However familiar this story is, one cannot read it without feeling pity for this tormented man. He was a victim of demons, according to Luke.

A victim of demons? How did they get in there in the first place? Demons don’t just walk in and take over wherever they feel like it. They can only gain access to a life when their lies are believed enough to let them in. It all begins when the unsuspecting person gives in to temptation, begins to do ungodly things that become a habit and then adopts ways of dulling the conscience because he cannot live with his guilt.

A young girl may run away from home, get involved in prostitution to make a living, and then turn to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain of her guilt and shame. It will not be long before she is so enslaved by this way of life that she is a candidate for demon possession. What she believed would be a way of escaping authority at home becomes a nightmare of the kind of control she was not bargaining for.

This man, who once made choices of his own, was now a victim of demonic control. What had led him into a lifestyle of sin so terrible that the demons took over? We don’t know but, once they were in, they were there to stay. He had made his choices to sin, time and again until the lies he had believed so often had opened the door for the demons to come in and take over. Once they were in, they showed their true colours and the real torment began.

How did Jesus know about him? Perhaps He didn’t but He went where the Spirit led Him. He went across the lake at His leading, and when He stepped off the boat, He knew why He had come. Although the man was inhabited by His arch-enemies, he was drawn to Jesus, both falling at His feet and screaming his antagonism. The human in him worshipped; the demons in him resisted.

Strange, isn’t it, that while humans refused to acknowledge who Jesus was, the demons were quick to identify Him as the Son of God. They knew who He was and they knew that their judgment was coming. This man was schizophrenic; there were two voices coming out of his mouth, the voice of a tormented man pleading for help and the voices of both terrified and defiant demons, knowing that their rule was temporary and their doom sure.

This story confronts us with the ugly truth of what happens to people when they venture into the realm of demonic deception, lured on by the promises of pleasure and “freedom”, only to be trapped by the consequences of their choices into a life of slavery far worse than the slavery they were trying to escape

Jesus came to set us free, free to choose a life that leads us to peace and wholeness. The only source of peace is Jesus. His peace comes to us when we choose to believe what He says and follow His way — the way of unselfishness, generosity and love.

“To the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31, 32 (NIV).

Freedom is not doing whatever you please. Freedom is taking responsibility for yourself and choosing to live God’s way. Do you know this kind of freedom?

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Luella Campbell

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