WOW Relationships of Jesus: Part 3 – Jesus with a Troubled Man: Transcript


WOW Relationships of Jesus

Jesus with a Troubled Man

January 25, 2009

Ben Young

God doesn’t want us to be in bondage, He doesn’t want us to be enslaved; He desires for us to be free. So, how do we get free? How do we keep Satan from keeping us in bondage? We need something explosive to combat the power of the enemy and our tendency to do our own thing. In the third message of this series, join Ben as he looks closely at the story of Legion, a troubled man whom Jesus set free. He will illustrate how we can use C-4 in our own lives, it is moldable and malleable to deal with whatever issue that has us enslaved and trapped.


WOW Relationships of Jesus

Jesus with a Troubled Man

January 25, 2009

Ben Young

God doesn’t want us to be in bondage, He doesn’t want us to be enslaved; He desires for us to be free. So, how do we get free? How do we keep Satan from keeping us in bondage? We need something explosive to combat the power of the enemy and our tendency to do our own thing. In the third message of this series, join Ben as he looks closely at the story of Legion, a troubled man whom Jesus set free. He will illustrate how we can use C-4 in our own lives, it is moldable and malleable to deal with whatever issue that has us enslaved and trapped.

Some years ago, I used to do a radio show called “The Single Connection.” Some of you have been around to remember that show, although no one listened to it! But anyway, back then, it was actually nationally syndicated because it was on Sunday nights, and Sunday night is trash time for most radio stations. So we were on nation-wide.

I was writing books at that time on dating and relationships, and I was doing a lot of traveling. I would fly into a city on a Friday night, speak that night and a couple or three times on Saturday; fly back Saturday, come back Sunday morning and preach Sunday morning and Sunday night, and do the radio show for another two hours! That was back on the edge of burn out; but I don’t do that anymore! When I’d travel a lot, I found myself sitting on a lot of airplanes in all the airports.

How many of you travel a lot during the week or the month? Raise your hand! A lot of us here do. I used to, and I would sit there and think about some weird stuff, like the safety regulations that they would always have to go through. By the way, I hate to break it to you if you’re scared of flying; but I think those safety regulations by and large are bogus! No, they are! You’re flying at 37,000 feet, going about 800 miles an hour. If that plane goes down baby, it is over! The idea that we’re going to land in water and your little life preserver is going to go “poof,” and you can blow into it—it doesn’t inflate. You’ll have the wherewithal to grab your oxygen mask and put it on yourself first before you…That’s just not going to happen! You’re going to fall like a rock from the sky, and the Gulf of Mexico is going to be like hitting cement, all right? It’s just over! The idea that your seat cushion is going to be used as a flotation device…I’m going to be using it for something else on the way down to the end of my life! It’s not going to happen! All this other stuff too, like, “Be sure your seat backs are in the upright position.” What is this? Right? Live, die. Live, die! What is the FAA doing the next morning as they’re going through and looking at the charred remains of the plane? “See this one, 4-A? If they’d only had their tray table in the upright position!”

Anyway, I know that safety and security rules are there for a reason, but I think a lot of it is because we’re in this kind of hyper-security environment that we live in and have grown up around. People even wear helmets today riding bicycles! I didn’t do that when I was a kid; but I think the whole airline deal is to give you the illusion of security, right?

To me, it gives you kind of a false sense of security that no matter what happens, everything’s going to be okay! I think a lot of times, we walk around in our world and our lives, and we live with this similar kind of illusion. In other words, we live unaware that there are forces outside of us that are way beyond our control. There are forces and actually powers that happen everywhere in many places, and in many lives that can wreak absolute havoc in our lives.

Today, I want to talk to you about some of those powers, and about how they work a little bit, and about what you can do to prevent them from really troubling your life. There is a story that is in the Gospel of Mark, so if you have a Bible, you can open to Mark. If not, it will be on the screen in front of you, Mark chapter 5.

If you’ve never read the Bible before, and you want to read a little bit about Jesus and His story; if you like action, then read the book of Mark! Mark is all about action! Action, action, we want action! It’s an action-packed book! It’s fast, and it’s furious, and it’s full of action!

Matthew is loud, right? Matthew shouts at you; he yells at you; he tells you to hit a brace and get your life in order! Luke is the doctor. He’s more detailed oriented, and more the detailed historian. If you’re into philosophy, then I’d encourage you to read John. I don’t know why I said that—it’s free! But anyway, here’s Mark, chapter 5. Here’s the action story. This is really a frightening story on some level, but it’s also a very encouraging story on another level. Let’s listen to it here:

Mark 5, “They went across the lake (they being the disciples and Jesus) to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs, and in the hills, he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

Let me take a brief time out here, okay? Some of you are probably already lost and are saying, “Okay, now we’ve gone from real life to science fiction land!” Let me just give you a brief story to tell you that this is not science fiction; this is the real deal. Some of these things still happen today.

I have a friend of mine who was a member of our church for many, many years. He worked with HPD S.W.A.T. Narcotics—big, tough guy; first guy in, and the last guy out. He told me this story years ago about a guy, this drug addict that they tried to apprehend, who weighed about 125 lbs. Paris Hilton, Mary Kate and Ashley were muscular compared to this guy.

This guy was really a skinny little wimp! Here came these big S.W.A.T. guys, 210, 220, 235 pounds in full riot gear, jumping on this guy. They’re trained to subdue people, and this guy is throwing them off just like I would throw off a two pound weight—just chunking them off of him! Boom, boom! They couldn’t subdue this guy! How do you explain that? Again, my friend who is a cop and is also a Christian says, “That’s the power of the devil. You can’t explain it any other way, how two to four huge, trained S.W.A.T. guys can’t subdue a guy who is only 125 pounds, rolled up in a rug at the time.” Amazing!

So, these things still happen today. They are anomalies, but they still happen today. Meanwhile, let’s check back in with our guy. All right! Just didn’t want to lose you!

“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell at his feet in front of Him.” Isn’t it interesting that for the last three months we’ve looked at the WOW statements of Jesus, and the WOW relationships; you find a lot of people falling at the feet of Jesus! Different kinds of people; rich people, poor people, prostitutes, all kinds of folks, demon possessed. They just—wham! Fall at the feet of Jesus.

“He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you evil spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘For we are many.’ He begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs! Allow us to go into them!’ He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.” (There will be no barbeque dinner after church today!)

“Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and the countryside, and the people went to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon possessed man, and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with Him. Jesus did not let him go, but he said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.’

So the man went away and began to tell people in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and all the people were amazed.” Wow! That’s a pretty radical story!

Now before we talk about the implication to the story and the whole issue of the demonic, and how that influences us; let’s unpack this story a little bit. It’s significant when it says in the very first verse that Jesus went to the region of the Gerasenes. This is the first time Jesus had done a miracle in a predominantly Gentile area. Jesus was called primarily to the Jews and to the nation of Israel. He did very little with the Gentiles initially. So he does this miracle in this region. He sees this guy who I guess is called Legion. Legion is a military term the Romans used to describe a number of soldiers. It could be anywhere from three to six thousand soldiers. So this guy was tormented by three to six thousand evil spirits and demons. He would live among the tombs, and he would run around. They would try to chain him and they couldn’t! He would break lose like that drug addict I talked about with my friend. They couldn’t subdue this guy, and it was wild and crazy! But somehow, he had some shred of sanity left in him to actually put himself at the feet of Jesus. Jesus takes the demons and casts them into the pigs.

Now, the pigs ran and drowned themselves, and when the people of the town heard about this, they weren’t too happy! For us, it’s like, “We have to do fried chicken, and seafood and barbeque!” That’s the way we kind of see it through our lens. But listen—2,000 pigs represented their economy! So it was about the economy going to the tank or drowning—you know, they watched these little pigs drown! “There goes my 401 K!”

Then it says the town’s people were what? When they saw what had happened, they saw this guy who had been a maniac and had been possessed by these demons. It was like the movie called The Exorcist. Now this person is calm…It says they were afraid! They were afraid because of the power of God, first of all. They were afraid, secondly, because Jesus is bad for business! “Go to another region! Find some cows, or some chickens and do the same thing over there! Go back to Nazareth! We’ve got our own situations here!” They wanted Him to leave. Again, this story is an exception, and not a norm.

I’ll tell you a story that happened to me about twelve years ago. I don’t tell a lot of stories like this primarily, because a lot of them don’t happen to me; but this was an unusual encounter. I was leading a Wednesday night worship service in our old sanctuary years ago, and I was doing the Lord’s Supper. On the second row, I could hear someone grumbling. As I continued to do the Lord’s Supper, I could hear someone kind of growling to my right, and then a few words.

Afterwards, some people brought me this guy, and I went into a room with some other pastors, and this guy was, to the best of my knowledge and ability to discern, possessed by demons. We talked to him; we talked to these demons. We tried to the best of our ability with the knowledge we had of Scripture, and the stories of Jesus, to cast the demons out of this guy. I don’t know if we did or if we didn’t. I know years later, the guy seemed healthy and normal, I believe. But let me tell you something: That’s really the only encounter I’ve had with someone who I would consider possessed. I’ve seen many people say, “Well, I think I’ve got a demon, blah, blah, blah…” They probably don’t.

When I was young and wanted to conquer the world; I wanted to cast out a demon, until I actually confronted demons, and then I realized, “No, I don’t want to be in that business unless God calls me to it.” But I want to tell you, the power of the devil, and the power of Satan is real. For those of you who may not know me, and this is your first time to come to Second; I’m not an “easy believe” kind of person. I’m pretty skeptical and analytical by nature; so for me to say that is almost like the devil has to appear to me with a red pitchfork and poke me in the rump! I’m pretty skeptical. But I’ve seen the power of the devil, and it’s unbelievable. I’ve seen what he’s done and what he can do in someone’s life when they give him total access.

I think that when you hear a story like this, a couple of things happen. You wonder, “Can this happen to me?” Or say, maybe you’re here and you consider yourself a Christ follower. “Can a Christ follower be possessed by a demon?” I don’t think a Christ follower can be possessed by a demon. One of the definitions for “possession” is to be owned. So if I’ve asked God to come into my life and I’ve trusted Christ; I’m owned by God. So no, I don’t believe demons can possess a believer. Can a demon wield incredible influence over a believer? Yes. Can he gain a stronghold in your life or my life when we give him access to do so? Yes! Satan and his demons are real and powerful forces, and we need to be aware. We don’t need to walk around our lives with an illusion of safety and security if we’re allowing him access and entrance into our lives.

One of the ways he wreaks havoc in our lives is through unconfessed anger and bitterness. In Ephesians 4:26 and following, it says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” By the way, it’s not a sin to be angry. The phrase before that says “Be angry; yet do not sin.” But if you have unhealthy, sinful, or bitter anger that you stuff and keep inside of you, and you don’t resolve that conflict with whoever you are conflicted with; somehow, someway—the Bible doesn’t explain how—you are giving the enemy, the devil a chance to gain a foothold and to have major influence over your life.

Once he gains influence, he will create confusion; he will create lies, and he will bring destruction. He’ll try to bring destruction and disaster into your life if you don’t take heed and do something about it.

We can relate to Legion, because on some level, we all have things that we’re dealing with, right? We have the world, which is not the world in general, but the world’s system. We have our own flesh, if you would, that wants to be selfish and doing our own thing. Then we have these demons and devils that can tempt, sway us, and lead us at times…But like Legion, if we feel like we have an issue, or we feel like we are trapped or enslaved by something; what do we desire the most? We desire to be free! We desire to be free…See, God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn you, John 3:17. He didn’t send Jesus into the world to rain on your parade, and to spoil all the fun that you want to have! He didn’t send His Son into the world to give you more rules on top of you! He sent His Son into the world to set you free! He doesn’t want us to be in bondage! He doesn’t want us to be enslaved! He doesn’t want us to carry around a ball and chain, and shackles like this. He doesn’t want us to live that way! He has created us to be free!

So we all have troubles like Legion. We have our issues. To use a modern vernacular, we all have our “demons,” right? (We kind of mean that tongue and cheek.) So how do we get set free? Well, we need something explosive! We need something explosive to combat the power of the enemy and our own tendency to do our own thing, and to do stupid things, irresponsible things, sinful things. We need an explosive power! You know what we need? We need something called C-4.

I need your help here! I know we have some folks here who have been in the military, or are currently in the military. Just raise your hand. If you’re in the military, raise your hand please! I want to call on you. I want you to tell me what C-4 is. Yes sir, right there! Say it again? C-4 is plastic explosives! Yes. Sir, what is your name? Paul? Okay—Paul, I’m Ben, it’s nice to meet you! Paul, help me out again, okay? This is the second part of the test. What is the advantage of C-4, besides being able to blow things up? What is the advantage of this type of explosive? What’s one of the advantages? You can set it on fire, and it won’t blow up. What else? Electrical discharges—what else? It’s fun! Can someone else in the military tell me an advantage of C-4? There’s one more advantage. He’s named several, obviously. He’s actually played with the stuff! I won’t continue that…it’s confidential! Help me out, sir! You can mold it! Thank you very much! You can mold C-4 to fit any kind of shape, and put it into cracks and crevices, and dark places, and it still goes BAM!

The C-4 that I’m going to talk about here that can set us free is moldable and malleable to deal with whatever issue, and whatever stuff you feel has you enslaved and trapped.

The first “C” in the C-4, and I encourage you to take notes if you’re not doing that, is conviction. You’ve got to have conviction. This man, Legion, who had all these troubles, and all these demons, somehow had the wherewithal at least to throw himself at the feet of Jesus. He did something that was wrong! Everything wasn’t okay. He threw himself at the feet of Jesus! He was convicted.

Now, here’s the tough thing about conviction, and I’ve experienced this in my own life, and I’ve experienced this in the life of trying to help others. You can’t convict somebody, and I can’t convict somebody of the junk in their life. Have you noticed that? Can’t do it! It doesn’t work! Only God can do that. Your parents can’t do it for you. Grounding, though you needed to be grounded, didn’t do it for you. Getting that ticket didn’t do it for you. Missing that day of work and lying about it didn’t do it for you. You’re still not convicted! Only God can convict you. When God convicts you, He is convicting you not to get “on you”—He is convicting you and me of something that has us that He wants to break us free from. But you’ve got to be convicted. You say, “Well, I’m not convicted.” Well, pray the prayer that’s kind of at the end of Psalm 139. “Lord, search my heart. See if there is any evil way in me” or what’s going on, and allow the spotlight of God’s holiness to shine down in your life in the dark places, and the cracks and crevices. Then when God tells you what’s going on, and you probably know anyway; that leads to the second “C” in C-4, and that is confession.

When we talk about confession, immediately, we go to some Roman Catholic paradigm of going into this cathedral church, and there’s this guy there all dressed in black and white—“Forgive me, Father, for I’ve sinned…” When was the time of your last confession? “It’s been a long time, Father…” It’s not that! By the way, I think confession is a beautiful thing in what the Catholic Church does in that realm. However, that’s not what I’m talking about per se. When I talk about confession, I’m talking about “owning” it; owning whatever it is that’s wreaking havoc in your life. Owning whatever it is that God’s bringing to your mind right now that has you.

When Legion knelt at the feet of Jesus, the Lord finally asked him this one question. What was it? “What is your name?” So when God convicts us, we have to name it. It’s like that slide back there that says, “I am enslaved to ________. I am captivated by _______.” Fill in the blank…lust, greed, pornography, beauty, vanity, money, food, depression, fear. What is it? Fill in the blank. Maybe you need to use the back side of your paper for this test. Maybe you’ve got more than one thing going on; but you’ve got to confess it. You’ve got to own it.

You’ve got to name it by name. “Oh, I can handle it! I can handle this…” You probably can’t. “Oh, it’s really not that big a deal! It’s not that big a deal…” It probably is. It’s going to take C-4—BOOM! To explode that out of your life so you can be free.

Let me say this parenthetically: I’ve seen this happen before on a handful of occasions; someone who was majorly addicted, majorly enslaved to whatever issues you can name. They gave their heart and life to Christ, and BAM! Gone! Never desired to drink or get drunk again. Never desired to do cocaine again. Never desired to steal again. Never desired to do whatever it was they were doing. Never! It was just gone, cold turkey! Christ sets them free immediately! That’s only in about 2% of the people I’ve seen in my experience. For most of us, you’ve got to fight for freedom! It’s an ongoing fight, an ongoing process, an ongoing use of this very moldable, explosive C-4 of conviction and confession that helps you get free.

The third “C” in the C-4 is the Cross. It’s the Cross! The Cross seemed to be pretty important to Paul. Paul was addressing a church in Corinth, which had some major league, whacky-tobaccy, cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs issues. We don’t have time to get into this. Google Corinth and their problems if you want to after church; but here’s what Paul said. Here is what his focus was. All these problems were going on in Corinth; but here is what he said in I Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” POG in the KOG – Power of God in the Kingdom of God. I Corinthians 2:1-2—“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul is the guy that was involved in killing Christians before his conversion experience, by the way. He had a lot to be forgiven of, didn’t he? We all do…Galatians 6:14, “May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

When we go to the Cross; when we really go to the Cross, we experience the incredible forgiveness and cleansing of God from within, and from without. Jesus sent these demons into the pigs, and they were drowned in the lake! God says He will take our sins on the Cross, and He will drown them in the sea of His forgetfulness.

For you business men and women out there, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute! Jesus just wiped out the economy of this area! That’s not very ethical of Jesus. Why did he kill their economy?” I don’t know. Maybe one of the reasons why was to show that one man’s life is worth the entire economy of a town. The crowd, once again in all those stories; they wanted to maintain the status quo. “It’s okay! Let’s have this crazy, mean, demonic, lunatic running around and cutting himself, and doing all this nutty stuff! Let’s have that as long as we have our cash!” Jesus came and… No. He said, “His freedom, this man’s freedom is worth more than the economy of this town.” You say, “Well, I don’t feel like I’m worth very much, and I have a very low self-esteem. It’s so low that I can play handball against the curb! I mean, it’s low!” Listen—God loves you so much that Jesus died in your place! Look at the economy of your life from God’s point of view. How much is something worth? How much is this platform, this pulpit worth? A hundred bucks? Two hundred bucks? No! It’s worth however much someone is willing to pay for it. How much is your life worth? It’s worth the death and the blood spilled of the very Son of God! God, help us to get the reality of Your forgiveness and love into our minds, and into our hearts. The Cross has the power to forgive, cleanse and restore, and to set us free! It’s huge; it’s a part of this C-4.

The fourth “C” in the C-4 is critical. Do you know what it is? Community. Trusted community. Whatever it is that’s going on in your life; you’re not going to get rid of it, you’re not going to be conquered by it; you’re not going to experience freedom from it by doing it by yourself. Not gonna happen!

I talked to a friend of mine who is a very gifted Christian counselor. He said, “You know, Ben, I’ve never known anyone to get over any problem of any significance by themselves.” “Oh, I can do this by myself!” No you can’t—you can’t! You’re going to need help from others; help from trusted community; two or three friends who really follow Christ and have really lived it out who you can go to, and confess to, and confide in who can help you in this process.

At our church, we have large gatherings like we’re having here on Sunday mornings, but we also have medium-sized gatherings in our Bible study classes. We have small groups that come out of the Bible study classes. We have support groups, and twelve-step groups. We have LPC, licensed professional counselors on our staff. All to help us in dealing with the problems and the things that enslave us, to help set us free! They are all there, right there for you, right there for us. You’re not going to conquer this; you’re not going to get free by yourself. It’s not gonna happen.

Even Gilligan had the Skipper! Batman had Robin! Malone had Stockton! I mean, come on! Even before the Fall, Adam had Eve, and Eve had Adam! Freedom! C-4 freedom comes from the community, the body of Christ.

We can’t go to the area of the Gerasenes and wait, and here comes Jesus in this speedboat across, and—“Set me free!” It doesn’t work that way! Now He has manifested Himself through the local church. We are His hands, we are His feet, we are the body of Christ, though a broken expression of it! But we experience the presence of Christ, the healing of Christ, the freedom of Christ in local community. It’s the way God designed it.

It’s weird and a little strange, thinking about the downside of airplane security and all that. I was reading this story, and I asked, “I wonder what Legion’s new name was?” As you read the Bible a little bit, you know that when God changes your name, He usually tells you what it’s going to be, right? “Saul, you will be named Paul! Simon! You’ll now be known as the Rock, Peter! Abram, you will now be known as Abraham, the father of many nations.” I wonder what Legions new name was after he was set free? I wonder, what your new name could be when the C-4 explodes in your life and begins to set you free? I heard a song a long time ago that said, “Everyone wants to be closer to free.”

Dear God, I thank You so much that You are God, and we are not, and we just continue to bump our heads against the concrete in the ceilings and walls to figure that out. God, I thank You that mercy and grace is at the center of the universe, and not karma. I thank You that You have come to set us free! God, so many times, we just kind of mess around and play around, and play church. We just play games. You kind of hit us and say, “No more games! It’s time to get real, and it’s time to watch My power unleashed in your life.”

God, I pray for those here today who need to have an in-break of Your grace in their life. God, may they stand and come down these aisles today; Lord, give them the power in a few moments to stand and to come down front and say, “You know what? I want God to set me free today! I want Him to set me free. I want to come to Him. I want to experience Him. I want to have a new name, a new life, and a new beginning.” May they stand and come down front today. May today be the day, right now.

Right now, this is one of the best times in our service, because God gives us an opportunity to respond in the moment to what He’s doing. If you are here and you need to know Him; you need to experience an in-break of His freedom, power, and grace; I want to invite you as the band sings to make your way out from where you are seated. Make your way down one of these aisles. As He leads, and as the band plays; don’t miss this opportunity, this window of freedom! You stand and come.