A COMPLETE DELIVERANCE
by Peter Bond
Mark 5: 1-20
This remarkable story really begins in the 35th verse of the previous chapter where the Lord Jesus, in obedience to the heavenly Father, determines to cross the sea of Galilee, he has a divine appointment with a devil-possessed man from the city of Gadara. His obedience, however, provokes ‘a great storm of wind’ (Mark 4:37), that strikes terror into the hearts of His disciples.
In Job chapter one, you may recall, Satan obtains from the LORD a limited grant of power in order to afflict Job, destroying both his family and portions of his estate. Employed in this devilish strategy we find in Job 1:19, ‘a great wind from the wilderness’. And in Mark 4, it appears that a similar grant is obtained in order to oppose the Son of God in His purpose. The point of victory comes as we compare the opening statements of verse 37 and 39. In verse 37, it says, “And there arose a great storm of wind”; but in verse 39 we read, “And HE AROSE”…No storm of opposition to God’s purpose in our lives can long prevail before the LORD Himself arises to restore peace and order, and to bring that purpose to its fulfilment.
This miracle, recorded in verse 39, draws from the affrighted disciples the sober question: “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” It is well to remember that, as our flat lands and southern coasts are battered by gale-force winds and torrential rain, these natural elements are only doing what our nation, the church, and we as individuals should be doing: they are obeying the word of the Lord. Psalm 148:8 speaks of, “Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind FULFILLING HIS WORD.” Let the church fulfil His Word, that a nation, under some measure of God’s judgment might sit up and take notice!
In Mark 5:1 and 2, we meet a man who is ripe for delieverance; for we read in verse 2, “And when [Jesus] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,” Though he may have been a torment to himself and to others for some considerable time, when the opportunity of deliverance was presented to him, he took it; and the Lord would not delay in granting him his freedom.
Such was his longing for this freedom, that we read in verse 6, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him” There is great power in those words, “he ran”. While his mind and his will were yoked to the mind and will of Satan, he would ever remain “among the tombs”. But when, in repentance, he was prepared to yoke his mind and will to the mind and will of Almighty God, “he ran”—“he ran”; and allowing one devil for each swine in the herd, 2,000 devils could not stop him!
Satan, as we know, cannot make anyone do anything; they have to be willing to it. Satan is a liar but he has to find someone who will tell them. Satan is a murderer but he has to find someone willing to commit the crime, This man from Gadara had yielded himself to the control of some 2,000 devils, yet “when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran”—and all the powers of darkness could not prevent him.
How many in this sin-sick world miss their opportunity when Jesus is passing? How many, even in churches, prefer to remain ‘among the tombs’? ‘tombs’ of dead religion? ‘tombs’ of ‘trespasses and sins’, even addictions? How many willingly remain untamed by a God they claim to believe in, and worship? How many remain tormented by the misery of habitual sin, and the self-inflicted wounds of iniquity? Instead of running to worship the Saviour?
We may be sure that 2000 devils did not want that man to run to Jesus. They knew it would mean instant eviction. They would be homeless. They would be immediately dispossessed. Not a single devil could resist the word of His power; and when this demonic turned from all that sin and Satan had made him, and ran and worshipped the Lord, 2,000 devils are now seeking alternative accommodation!
This deliverance in Mark chapter five, is unique in the scriptures; for it would appear, at first to be deliverance by transfer: 2,000 devils evicted by the word of the Lord from this poor man, are now granted a fresh lodging place. In verse 10 they express a desire to remain in ‘the country of Gadarenes’; and in verse 12 beseech the Lord, “saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”Verse 13 begins “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.”: in other words, He granted their request.
The region known as ‘Decapolis’ (see verse 20), was a mixed area with a significant percentage of Gentile inhabitants. Whether this man or ‘they that fed the swine’ were Jews or Gentiles is perhaps, beside the point. The swine were still a symbol of uncleanness; and in granting these devil’s their request resulting in the destruction of the entire herd (see verse 13), and further eviction of the devils, Christ, it seems, is indicating His purpose, which is to have compassion not merely on one man but on the wider community in those parts. The Gentile population were doubtless ignorant, superstitious and unchurched. And, in delivering one man, sending him out as a witness of the ‘great things the Lord had done for’ him, He evidently intended to bring in an eternal harvest from among this despised people. Let us ever bear in mind that, in saving each one of us, the Lord has a wider purpose beyond ourselves. He saved us in order to teach others.
I now want to turn our thoughts to the titles of this article for surely this man obtained a remarkable and a complete deliverance. Verse 15 pictures for us the local people gazing on, as this man, once the terror of his neighbourhood, is now “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.” This scripture simply adds, ‘and they were afraid.’
I believe the church at large must recapture a gospel message that offers a complete deliverance. In verse 8 the Lord Jesus issues the command, “Come out of the man thou unclean spirit” It is as absurd to imagine that one or two devils could have resisted that command, and elected to stay put, as it would be to suppose that the man who ran from those tombs to worship the Lord was a born-again believer!—and yet such ludicrous doctrinal arguments are very widespread in our time.
Two thousand devils were granted temporary leave to go into a herd of pigs; but there were no ‘pigs’ remaining in this man’s ‘parlour’! He had received a complete deliverance. I have to question what kind of Christ people are trusting in, who would take up spiritual residence in a man’s heart and permit the devil to cohabit with Him. Let us beware of teachers who tell us that the devil can linger once Christ has come in. Such teaching comes under the heading of Damnable Heresy, (see II Peter 2:1); and qualifies, according to (II Timothy 1:7), as a doctrine ‘of devils.’
Anyone who soberly considers the scriptures from Acts 2 onwards will very easily see that the Word of God is utterly devoid of any examples of born-again, Spirit-filled believers simultaneously possessed by the devil. To have a ‘right mind’, ‘a sound mind’ according to II Timothy 1:7, is to have ‘the mind of Christ’ (I Corinthians 2:16). To possess such a ‘mind’ is incompatible with any manifestation of demon possession; and the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary would be comprehensively dented to believe otherwise.
Much could be said relating to the fact that, as this man had been turned ‘from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God’ (Acts 26:18), we find him especially mentioned as being ‘clothed’. The evidence of a tendency towards nakedness both in society, and increasingly in the professing church, can only point to ‘the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’ as the source (Eph.2:2). I one of the earliest examples of religious apostasy viz. the ‘molten calf’ incident in Exodus 32, we are told that, when Moses turned, and went down from the mount’ (verse 15), he noted as a particular feature of the shameful spectacle that met his gaze, ‘that the people were naked’ (Exodus 32:25)—if not stark naked at best in a severe state of unholy undress.
Lastly, we see this man, now completely delivered, in verse 18 pleading with Jesus, “that he might be with him.” In verse 19, we see him redirected by the Lord, and commanded to “Go…and tell how great things the Lord hath done for [him]” And in verse 20, we see him obeying that command, broadening his field of activity to include, not only Gadara, but the ten cities of the region of ‘Decapolis’.
Having only moments earlier parted from an unimaginable life of torment and degradation, ‘among the tombs’ and having been delivered from a legion of devils, this citizen of Gadara is now fit from the very first to testify of the power of Christ that has set him free. He is not offered any medication; he is not advised to spend a period at a rehab centre; he has no church or pastor to support him; and he is not expected to be found drifting back to life ‘among the tombs’. He has obtained, by faith, a complete deliverance, and is immediately to be trusted as a witness of the great event.
When the church lose her sense of the all-sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, and its consequences when received into human hearts; and when she therefore ceases to go forth and proclaim such a message—a message that offers a complete deliverance; it is then that she may be found slipping back to a twilight existence ‘among the tombs’ where unholy associations are both permitted and promoted and where habitual and abiding sinfulness is made to be compatible with salvation.
Let us resolve not to accept and not to proclaim anything less than the glorious deliverance that this man from the city of Gadara received and rejoiced in that day. A deliverance that does not cause us to cleave to Christ; that does not thrust us out into the regions of the lost all around us is no form of deliverance found in the pages of the New Testament. May the church again extend her full embrace towards the miraculous benefits the Lord Jesus will so freely grant her! AMEN.