19th November 2023

Breaking Chains

Passage: Luke 8:26-39, 4:40, Colossians 2:15
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

Thank you, Heidi and the team. Let's put our hands together for these guys. Thank you. That was great. If we haven't met, my name is Ian Hussey. I'm the Regional Minister for the Metro Central Region of Queensland Baptist, which includes the Southside churches which are gathered here together. So it's great to be together, as Peter said, just to recognise that we're not alone in our ministries and that there is a family of churches and people we've perhaps never met before who are doing ministry in the same area. It's a great opportunity, a great privilege to preach here, to stand where Jim Gibson stands. There's actually a line worn in the carpet there, which is from Jim Shuffles. When I was at Bible College, Jim was my Systematics Theology lecturer and I learnt a lot about Systematics Theology from Jim. But I also learnt a lot about preaching and you guys here at Salisbury are greatly blessed to have Jim's ongoing ministry of the preaching of the Word. So thanks, Jim, and thanks for the churches for this opportunity to come and share tonight. I happened the other week to be doing some research into methamphetamines. And if you are not aware, not in order to take them, but to find out something about them, but methamphetamines are the scourge. One of the scourges of our society at the moment. It comes in three forms, speed, base and ice, or crystal methamphetamine, which is the one that's occurred more recently. So speed has been around for a couple of decades, but the ice, the crystal meth, is a highly concentrated and very readily available manufactured and distributed drug. And it really is the drug of choice in many set parts of our communities. It is very powerful and produces some very unpleasant side effects, particularly when it's used in excess and for extended periods of time. So what happens is that when people use crystal meth for apparently around about 14 days continuously, they enter a stage where it's called tweaking. And their body is no longer able to get the positive, whatever positive, benefits from the drug are there. But a whole lot of very negative side effects come in. One is they get very itchy. They get very hot. So you often see people who are tweaking on methamphetamines strip off. They become very paranoid, very agitated. They often self-harm. And so you see these scenes of these very aggressive, powerful, drug-induced, powerful people running through streets, destroying things. Destroying themselves. And for the police, it's just an absolute nightmare having to deal with these people who are tweaking on methamphetamine. And it's interesting when you are aware of that. I don't know if you've ever had seen what happens when people are affected in this way by ice. But it's very interesting to compare a story in the Bible that we're going to look at tonight. It's in Luke. Chapter 8. We read the story of a man. So Luke chapter 8, if you've got your Bibles there. A man who shows some very violent and very self-destructive behaviours. Luke chapter 8, verse 26. Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite to Galilee. This is Gentile territory. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city, who had demons. For a long time, he had worn no clothes, and had not lived in a house, but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, Jesus, what have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me. For he commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many a time, it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles. But he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. Jesus then asked him, What is your name? And he said, Legion. For many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. And they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs. And the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened. And they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at Jesus' feet, clothed and in his righteousness, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people from the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you. And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. As we look at this tonight, I want to point out five things to note about the passage and four things to do as a result of it. First thing to note about the passage, is that it's a very distinct exorcism. So there are a number of exorcisms, the casting out of demons throughout the Gospels, in various places, many recorded in the Gospels, and presumably there are other ones that Jesus performed that are not recorded in the Gospels. But this is a quite unique one. The first is that it occurs in Gentile territory. So Luke's paying to point out that Jesus crossed the lake from Galilee into the Greek area, into the areas of the Gerasenes, the Decapolis. So it's a Gentile area. And the other distinctive thing about this exorcism is that there are multiple demons in this poor man. And that makes it unique. The second thing we need to notice is that Jesus initiated this encounter. Jesus is in Galilee in the previous chapter and then he says to his disciples, Let's go over into the Gentile territory. And that was quite an unusual thing to do if there was two things that Jews would try and avoid. They would be Gentile territories and graveyards. Yet that is exactly where Jesus takes them. And there's a school of thought amongst some scholars because what happens is Jesus says, Get into the boat to cross over. And in the previous chapter we see there's this huge storm that blows up. And there's a whole story there in the previous chapter. And there's a school of thought that say that the reason the storm blew up was that this was Satan. He was trying to oppose, trying to stop this encounter that we read about from happening. This is the evil one bringing up the storm and Jesus throwing his authority over the storm as he does over the demon that's in the man. The third thing that should jump out of this as we read this story is just the incredible impact that evil had on this man. His dreadful, dreadful state. He's driven out. He's alone. He's naked. He's in a graveyard. He's got this supernatural strength. He breaks chains. He's despised. People are terrified of him. But perhaps the most powerful and touching moment is that Jesus in his compassion, we know that often when Jesus saw people, his heart was moved with compassion. And as Jesus looks at this poor man in his compassion, he says, what is your name? And the man can't say his name. He has been so dehumanised. He's been so overwhelmed. He's been so destroyed by the demons in him that he can only speak the name of the demons. Legion. Whatever name he had is lost. His identity is lost and destroyed because of the impending, impact of evil on his life and and we need to note here that in talking about this demonization that that Luke is pointing out that this is not an illness that this is something else that is is happening in the man we read back in in Luke chapter 4 verse 40 where in the one verse it says Jesus healed their sicknesses and Jesus cast out their demons and so so in in Jesus world in our world there these are two different things there's undoubtedly overlap between the two but here is distinctly something demonic there's something evil in this man that is dehumanizing him and destroying him the fourth thing is to note about this passage is what it reveals about the way that evil works in our world it reveals to us this is what part of the gospel here is unveiling to us the way that Satan and his demons what they're on about in this world and it's about destruction you know we know from the from the bible that Satan's other name is the liar or the accuser and and if you hear that voice in your head accusing you of something reminding you of something you've been forgiven on in the past accusing you of being something that's the voice of Satan it would be working to to destroy you and to accuse you and to to bring you down and so Satan is is a liar he's an accuser he's a deceiver but he's also according to this he is the destroyer that is what evil is about in our world it is about destruction in fact even more specifically it's about driving human beings to self-destruction that is what he's he's on about it's a manifestation of his great destructiveness in this story you see because pigs might fly or pigs can't fly but they can swim apparently they're quite good swimmers and so these pigs did not die because they went into the lake the pigs died because Satan destroyed them just as Satan had been intending to destroy them and so Satan destroyed them and so Satan destroyed them and so the man now the destruction was turned upon this this herd of pigs that is what Satan is on about final thing this story reveals to us the final thing to note is the power of salvation there's a little word translated in in verse 36 there translated as healed or cured or something along those lines but it's the Greek word sozo which is much bigger than the English word save it's one of those words that it's sort of got richness in in the Greek language and it's it's not just about getting better it's not just a healing it's not just a casting out of demons it's about being whole and being restored and being renewed and so to quote a famous movie if we can take ourselves to Titanic so the the closing scenes of Titanic and the the aged Rose Dawson is reflecting on on on Jack Dawson the man who had the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the she'd fallen in love with on the boat you know 50 years beforehand on the ship 50 years beforehand and she's talking about Jack Dawson and she says Jack Dawson saved me in every possible way it was to be saved and and that's the the implication of this word it to be saved in every possible way and Jesus has saved this man in every possible way he was he was naked and now he's dressed he was screaming and now he's silent he he was cast out and now he's back in community he he was living in the dead places he was living in the graveyards and now he is fully alive in the presence of his saviour the wonderful salvation that Jesus Christ brings to everyone so there's five things to note about Jesus Christ and he's a great man he's a great man and he's a about the passage and now there's four things I think we should do as we we reflect on it and the first one is to recognize that you're in a battle recognize that you are in a spiritual battle that there is there is on there are unseen forces going on around you which are impacting your your day-to-day life it's interesting talking to missionaries who come back to Australia or to a country after serving in in many places in the developing world and and they will come back absolutely convicted about the power of evil they see the manifestation they see the physical manifestation of evil in many parts of the world that we just don't tend to see here in Australia but that doesn't mean that that evil is not at work in fact for whatever reason satan and his minions choose to act invisibly in our world and that's because they that doesn't mean that they are less powerful in fact it means often that they can be more effective because they are operating invisibly we we don't notice them and so we don't we can't see them so we don't notice them we don't understand what they're doing we don't resist them as well and there's a classic book after reading the bible one of the books you you should read is a book called the screwtape letters by by C.S. Lewis and it's all about this and and as you you read it you get an insight into the way that the evil forces in our world work invisibly behind the scenes far more effectively than if they would stand up and jump out at you as you as you walk down the street they can do a lot more damage invisibly than visibly so you can buy the book or uh you can listen to it on youtube with john cleese reading screw tape letters so hop on youtube google that you can listen to it's quite amusing as well as as being insightful we're in this spiritual battle and i think we can recognize again in in in light of this story some of the ways that satan and his evil ones are at work in the world and and drug addiction is is one of them when you see the damage that it does and and that's what drew me to this to see the striking similarity between the two of them and the two of them and the two of them and the two of them the similarities between the symptoms of methamphetamine and the demons the the demonic man here now the the manifestation was different oh this manifestation was the same and it's got satan's fingerprints all over it he was doing then what he does now helping people to destroy themselves and and we need to recognize i mean it's far more complicated than just evil but we need to recognize that in drug in addiction there is evil and we're probably not just talking drug addiction here either we're probably talking about alcohol addiction pornography addiction shopping addiction all of the addictions are ultimately self-destructive and it's got satan's fingerprints all over it and we also need to to perhaps recognize that the that there is an element not in every case but at least sometimes the bible suggests in in mental illness because if you if you look at what mental illness leads to it leads to often self-destruction where it leads to self-destruction we need to be at least suspicious that satan is involved in there somewhere now the last thing i want you to do is if you're a medication for a mental illness don't go off it uh it's a complex thing mental illness but i think as christians with a christian worldview and and and our bibles in their hand we need to recognize that something is going on that's more than biochemistry something that's going on is more than psychological there is it's got satan's fingerprints on it it's the sort of thing that satan would do is to have somebody who's so mentally ill that they lead they go to self-destruction and i think the third place where we see it is in in at an institutional level as well i don't think you can look at at nazism and not conclude that there was more than just a political agenda there and the destruction and the destruction of the world and the destruction of the world and the horror and the the evil that was was in there is is it was something that satan was behind we look at what happened in in cambodia with pol pot the self-destruction of an entire nation uh when we we look at slave trading that there's a there's an evil there isn't there there's more than just an economic reason why people would do that to other human beings you just get that stink of evil something like that and in toxic workplaces right down to that level if you're in a in an organization if you're in a workplace where people are exploited people are hurt systematically it could be that there's a there's a spiritual dimension to what's going on that satan has has been working and doing his stuff the same stuff he was doing way back in jesus's time he's doing it in your workplace right now so be on guard one of the distinctives of the christian worldview you've probably heard about christian worldview now the christians look at the world differently to what everybody else does and and things like you know creation uh the uh the the reason the impact of the fall on on human life the the hope we have because of these are all part of the christian worldview part of the christian worldview is recognizing there is an evil force and it's active and it's out there and we're in a battle against that and that's going to be different from your friends however much you've got a a worldview that is similar to your non-christian friends this is one of the places where you're going to have a distinctly different view that there is evil and there is satan and he's at in work in the world and he's about destruction so that's the first thing we need to do we need to recognize that we're in a battle second thing we need to do is recognize that sometimes encountering jesus in his power is a scary thing even the disciples in the story immediately before that when they had seen his power when when and and here at the in garrison when when jesus demonstrates his power and his victory over evil they don't say oh jesus come and stay uh come and move over this side of the lake we've got lots of people with mental illness and lots of people with demon addiction and lots of people with illnesses we would love to have you come and live with us it's go away too much too too scary that that this or that and we see this throughout the gospels when jesus comes he disturbs things he challenges things he turns things upside down and often the human response is not jesus come and give us more of that the human response is go away go away folks grow comfortable with their demons including us and one of the things that happens when we have those close and powerful encounters with jesus christ is our natural instinct is terror and awe and fear and jesus that you're too close beware of that instinct and don't make the same mistake these people made to force away their savior instead draw near to him and allow yourself to experience his awe and his greatness third thing to do is we've got to tell people about this truth luke goes to a lot of effort there to make sure that you see what happens to this man so right at the end of the story he you know jesus hops in the boat to go over and and that the the man comes to jesus and says i want to go with you and he says no no i want you to go back to your home and i want you to tell them what i've what's happened and and luke you know goes on to explain that that's he's gone back and he's he's told people about what about what has been done and and we need to tell people about the power of jesus over evil that's part of the gospel message that that that jesus is is the savior in every possible way including a savior of us from evil we need to because people need to hear it you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're you're your non-christian friends need to hear the good news that that addiction and and all the evil things in the world that jesus has the power to to deal with those things i vividly remember watching a video of an interview with a papua new guinean man it was filmed some years ago and he he was alive when the first missionaries came to papua new guinea and and the interviewer got down this leading with a question and he said i want you to tell people about the power of jesus like you know did are you sorry that these western christians brought western civilization and interrupted your your culture that your your your ancient culture within the papua new guinea and this guy just looked astounded and and said of course i'm so thankful that the the missionaries came he said we would never go out at night we never went out at night we were so afraid of the evil forces that we would lock ourselves in our huts and lock the doors and and sit there in terror that evil would come and take us or take our children he said but when the missionaries came they brought the gospel and they brought the power of jesus christ and now i'm free now i can go out people need to hear the good news they need to hear the gospel that brings freedom over the powers of evil fourth thing to do is to recognize that only jesus can conquer evil and and there are things going on like social intervention programs hr policies health care great health care these things can hinder the work of satan you know a good a good drug addiction program can can help a young person not be self-destructive can help to to break addictions a good hr policy can can mean that evil doesn't run amok in a workplace with people being oppressed and abused but in the end they will only hinder satan they won't stop him there's good news and bad news in this story that the humans have done everything they possibly could to control this demonic they chained him up they sent him out somewhere away from them but they were still terrified of him he was still running amok only jesus could really fully save that man and only jesus can deal fully with addiction only jesus can deal fully with with mental health issues only jesus can deal fully with institutional evil perhaps tonight you need a hand in your battle against evil you've you've recognized that uh that maybe you're struggling with addiction maybe you're you're struggling with with with mental health maybe you're you're struggling with uh a toxic workplace and tonight maybe you just need to make that that decision to to come and seek jesus's power and healing in addressing those things this story is just one in a series of stories where demonstrates that Jesus has authority and power over everything. He's got power over nature, he's got power over sickness, he's got power over human beings, he's got power over life and death and he has power over evil and Satan as well. If you've got one of those red letter Bibles, it's interesting looking in the story that in what is 30 odd or 20 verses there, where Jesus is only recorded as saying two things. If you've got a red letter Bible, it's only two things he says. One is, what is your name? And that's Luke's way of emphasising what he really wants to emphasise about this encounter Jesus had with evil. And that question echoes down through the centuries to us today. And Jesus would come before you today and say, what is your name? Is it Legion? Is it failure? Is it addict? Is it hopeless? Jesus wants to reclaim your name. He wants you to reclaim your identity. And so he comes before you tonight and says, what's your name? What is your name? The only other thing Jesus says to the man, and Luke highlights it for us, is he tells him to go back to his home. And we don't know how long this man had been afflicted by this demon and we don't know how long he was living in this graveyard. But we know that one of the things that evil does is it disconnects people from their homes. That's part of the self-destructive nature of it. It drives them out into isolation. And this is where this man has been on the extremity self-destroying. And part of the total salvation that Jesus brings to him is you can go home. I want you to go home. And that's because human beings are meant to live in community. When we go off by ourselves, when we're isolated, that's where self-destruction occurs. And perhaps the second question or the second thing that Jesus would say to you tonight is, you can go home. And if you're here, you probably know some Christians. If you're part of this church, this is your home. This is the place that Jesus brings you to find healing and community and restoration. And whatever church you come from, that is the place where Jesus wants you to go and to be part of his healing and restorative community. So I'll just finish with, so what is your name? It's time to find that home that you've left. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, we thank you for your incredibly powerful ability to save people. We thank you that you save us from sin, but we thank you also that you save us from the power, of evil and as it as it says there in Colossians 2 15 you have disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them on the cross well we thank you you have won the victory and that we share in that victory that you are winning over evil in this world and some of us as we come here tonight Lord we are in a battle with evil and we're losing we're addicted or we're struggling with mental health or the the toxic culture that we have to engage with is defeating us and Lord we thank you that you have the power to overcome these things and we pray Lord that you will be at work in our lives exerting your authority and power so that we can win the battle over evil help us to see the fingerprints of satan at work in our lives and the lives of those around us help us to realize we're in a battle and to fight that battle with courage and the power of your word and lord if there's some here tonight who have been dehumanized by the evil one lord let them hear you speak their name the name you know the name of the one whom you love dearly the name of the one for whom you went to the cross and may they be left in no doubt that you stand before them tonight calling them by name into your presence and into your love and lord if they are cut off help them to find their home tonight help them to be able to go home and find that loving community in jesus name we ask, amen.

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