Children of God Have Been Given The Power Within Them
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit! Then He asked him, “What is your name?”
And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea and drowned in the sea.
There are many arguments that come against the reality of the unseen, yet there are multitudes who experience the spiritual realm through extraordinary circumstances and cannot explain it. How do we reconcile this? Our understanding of the unseen is vital to the Christian faith. The argument for the metaphysical is at the core of our ability to defend our faith in a spiritual being who is a sovereign Creator/God. The reality is, is that what is real, is real whether we believe it or not. This is much like truth. The truth corresponds to reality whether a person believes the truth, or not. What we need here is understanding.
The Bible is filled with examples of the spiritual realm. A Christian will likely explain some extraordinary experience as a miracle, but a humanist will work at finding a natural cause as an explanation regardless of whether it makes sense or not. We need to be careful how we use the term miracle because we can easily water down the true meaning of a supernatural event, diluting the impact of a real miracle and God’s work in it. Twentieth century theologian, Leslie Newbigin, writes about how many in today’s modern world tend to explain away a miracle over time using suppositions and naturalistic explanations. This dismissive way of thinking toward the supernatural did not happen in a vacuum or overnight. There has been a slow and steady march away from anything that can be associated with a Creator God who participates in the lives of his creation ever since the period known as the Enlightenment (late 17th century to the early 19th century).
Whether we understand it or not, there is a supernatural realm. A reality that we can sense, but we cannot see visibly in the physical. This is a reality that manifests itself through odd behaviors in humans and animals, unexplainable healings, the mysterious movements of otherwise inanimate objects, and more. The passage above is one example of many that recognizes this spiritual realm in the Judeo-Christian Bible. The Gadarenes man was clearly possessed by numerous evil spirits. We are told that he was tormented by these demons even to the point of cutting his own body. Saul was also distressed when God allowed him to be under the influence of demonic activity. Saul would become so tortured by evil thoughts that they had to call on David (the future king) to play the harp to distract his attention to something much more pleasant.
Like it or not, demonic influence is very real and denying this reality will only make one highly susceptible to it. God created humanity as free beings. We have the freedom to make choices about how to live and what to think about. If we are not walking with God and focusing on the things of God, we will be easily manipulated by other influences. With true freedom comes a great responsibility. Our life decisions will be swayed by our core philosophical beliefs. If you truly believe in a metaphysical ultimate Being (God), then your life will reflect your understanding of who God is. If you do not believe in the Creator, then your decisions and your behavior will reflect your carnal belief system which leads to bondage.
The Old Testament and the New Testament both reveal to the reader how those who are unaware of demonic influence fall prey to it and how it can, if left unchecked, cause destruction for the possessed individual. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thes.5:16-18) as there is a reason for this. Jesus told the disciples to pray so that they would not fall into temptation (Matt. 26:41) because he knew how easily we are influenced if we let our guard down. Free-floating fear can heavily impact the unsuspecting. If we are not aware of the subtle influences of evil, then we will be more prone to fall into destruction as a result. Fortunately, God has provided his Spirit to indwell true believers (John 14:19-26) which gives us the power to discern evil influences from godly influences. We have the power to stop the devil from ruining our lives (1 Pet. 5:8) when we are able to discern the voice of God. Seek Truth at all costs and chose life.
Leslie Newbigin, The Other Side of 1984: Questions For The Churches (Geneva Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 1990, 1984), 1 – 16.