Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God, our Father, and
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the
text for this morning comes from the Gospel reading.
The most common form of demonic possession is unbelief. The
most common form of demonic possession is unbelief. What you and I are more
familiar with is the temptations with which you and I struggle, but that does
not deny the fact that unbelief is demonic possession. It’s just that what
happens….and this is such a beautiful expression of this day and age when
anything that cannot be seen and cannot be proven is not real. Satan and all of
his demons are real. You confess that. “I believe in God, the Father almighty,
maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”
We believe that there is a realm of which we are not privy
to see but that is very real. It is unfortunate that, as we have become more, for
lack of a better word, enlightened, the truth and reality of the evil side of
this world and the demons that dwell here are scoffed at and ridiculed and
laughed and mocked that do not exist. And we end up narrowly focusing on
demonic possessions to be only that which this text exhibits. And that is for your
and my experience very real, but not too often have we come into contact, if
ever, in our lifetime. And yet, Satan is very real.
When Jesus went to Capernaum to teach and He taught the
people and they were astonished at His teaching because He taught with
authority. He taught them and proclaimed to them about who He is and what the
Scriptures speak about Him. He taught them all of these things about Him being
the Redeemer, the one who was sent by God to be the one that crushes the head
of the offspring of Satan.
Regardless of what He did teach, we know not exactly. We
know that it must have been proclamation about Himself as being the Redeemer of
the world, that there would be among the midst an expression of Satan in
possessing this man to speak up and the most unusual aspect is that this man
spoke truth. The demon spoke truth about God. “This is the Holy One of God.”
Sadly, it is easier for the Jews to believe this man was
demonic possessed, and for that matter, sadly, it is easier for the people of
this world to believe this man is demonically possessed than it is for them to
believe the words that came out of the demon’s mouth. “This one is the Holy One
of God.” Hence, unbelief is the most common form of demonic possession.
Jesus speaks: “Be silent and come out of him.” With His
words, He proclaims and all things must obey, even demons. They are not outside
of His purview of authority. They are another creature and that is all. And
God’s Word proclaims and thus it happens. That’s a great gift and confidence to
us. But it has no purpose or benefit to us if we don’t take seriously Satan and
About ten days ago, the confirmands and I got into a real
stimulating discussion about demons, demonic possessions, because what is
presented to all of us about demons and demonic possessions is simply what we
see on movies and our TV. In fact, there’s even a show about this man who goes
and tries to find these haunted houses to see whether or not they’re really
real and all kinds of things to stir up all of the interest, but all that it
really ends up doing is perpetuating the lie of Satan that he doesn’t really
exist, for that’s his greatest temptation, to fool the world into thinking he
doesn’t exist and is of no consequence or concern for you and me as a believer.
And yet, who is it that pushes us to speak such words of
harshness that we regret having said them to someone we love? And who is it
that pushes us though we are already bent in that direction to crush someone’s
spirits by actions and words. It is as if we are unwilling to admit our piranha
in this when Satan drops a drop of blood in the water in which we swim. It is
his great fairy tale to us that we believe that we are not a drug addict or an
alcoholic as he brings forward to our nostrils the wafts of methamphetamine and
I can strongly and in my great discipline say no to such
thing. You are a sinner, and you and I are tempted to sin. And you and I came
from sinful parents whose words, though we may think and can explain away all
of their actions, were sinful just like ours. And though we may pride ourselves
on being great parents, we know that the children whom we bore, they’re our
sin, and when we see our sin manifested in their lives, it brings us that cold
reality of our own flesh and blood sinfulness. And for Satan to fool us into
thinking that his influence over us as believers is gone, brothers and sisters,
you’re the ones he goes after. An unbeliever is his. He doesn’t need to go
after the unbeliever. But you and me….we are the ones that he goes after, and
he is the one with whom we must wrestle as we wrestle with our own flesh. It’s
already bent toward that direction that he’s encouraging us down which to
When we begin to define Satan according to God’s Holy Word
and not according to what books and magazines, television and movies have
defined him as, we begin to see him as he really is. But more importantly, we begin
to see ourselves for who we really are, and that’s a good thing. To see ourselves
for what we really are, then we see and experience in a right way, receiving
what God is toward such people as we….merciful and gracious.
When the prodigal son considered whether or not he should
return to the father, the prodigal son first thinks and says, “I will go back
to my father and tell him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against
earth. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’” And he says, “Make me like
one of your hired servants,” meaning, “I feel very guilty about who I am and
what I’ve done. I want to reclaim that which I was, which is your son, but
since I don’t really feel like your love can cover me, I will also be your
hired servant that I may work my way out of my guilt and make myself worthy to
be called your son.” And that’s the great fallacy of Satan in our returning to
When the prodigal son finally arrives at his father’s house,
the only words that come from his lips, check the text, “I’m no longer worthy
to be called your son.” That’s it. “I’ve sinned against heaven and against
earth.” He does not say, “Make me like one of your hired servants,” because he
has realized, by God’s Holy Spirit, he cannot stand on anything that he does.
His worth and value in God’s sight is not based upon what he thinks, but upon
what God declares. It is Satan who wishes you and I to think such crazy things.
His name is Andy….it was Andy. He has since gone to
glory, one of our pastors, missionary to the country of Malaysia right after
the Second World War. He was gifted in languages, and he translated the first
translation of Luther’s Small Catechism into the language of Malay. He spent
many years, decades, in the country as a missionary. Finally, his health
prevented him from continuing in that vineyard of God, and he had to return
home. And in his return home, his final years were not final years of bliss
but of great tormentation.
For a man who has seen great acts of God in people coming to
faith, for a man who has witnessed families joining and becoming believers, his
faith was continually tormented by voices within his mind. Now, science
declared it as being multiple personalities. He does and did need medication to
help him with that fight. But it’s still Satan. It is not God’s desire nor
design. It is still Satan and a part of this sinful world. He would come to
the door after having already received Lord’s Supper and after already being in
the presence of all of God’s holy people who were broken and had been healed by
God’s Word and sacrament and asking again, “Does God love me? Am I God’s child?
I do not and cannot be convinced of such things. It is difficult for me. Help
A man in his sixties and seventies and eighties tormented by
such things, asking such questions, ought not to be, and yet it is and it was.
God be praised that he was delivered from such a life, and the life of doubt
and tormentation by his own flesh and by Satan is over. It is over because God
does not turn his back on His children and continue to claim him to his grave.
Just as He claims you and will not turn His back upon you.
Be very, very respectful of the great power of the demons of
this world. They are real, but they are not more powerful than the one who
fulfills the prophecy: He shall crush his head. For Christ alone, who dwells
within you, is greater than he who dwells in this world. And He is the one who
will preserve and protect you and claim you as His child, not because of the
righteous things that you have shown Him that you are, but rather because of
your great need for His mercy and forgiveness, like the prodigal son.
And like Andy who cried out such prayers, and with the same
powerful word that Christ spoke, “Be silent and come out of him,” was that word
spoken over you at your baptism when Satan was driven from you as an unbeliever
though you were but an infant. And each time you and I return to our Lord does
He drive it out of us again with His sure word of acceptance and adoption of us
as His children. He will not deny us for we are bone of His bone and flesh of
His flesh. And such bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, our Lord Jesus
Christ who is God and man, did speak such words, and in the midst of this world
when it seems like Satan’s power reigns, it will reign because of Christ’s
great powerful Word that you cling to and will die in.
Be at peace and comfort. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.