No Better Than The Demons
Chan Gin Kai
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:33-34)
In the movies, the demon-possessed have dishevelled hair, pallid skin, bloodshot eyes and walk in a contorted half-stoop, like Gollum. But can they be well groomed and even suave? Can they look just like you and me?
No Different From The Demons
There was a demon-possessed man in the synagogue, and according to Luke and Mark’s parallel account (Mark 1:21-28) no one had dragged him there. Mark recorded that Jesus was already deep into his teaching, when the demon-possessed man suddenly screamed out at the top of his voice.
So the demon-possessed man had dressed and behaved normally, and gone to the synagogue like everyone else. No one even knew that he was different. But in the midst of Jesus’ teaching, something Jesus said must have triggered him and the demon in him manifested. He recognised Jesus as the “Holy One of God”, acknowledging Jesus’ divinity. The demon in him manifested.
We go to church every Sunday. Hopefully no one had to drag you there, though I’ll confess that I’ve had to drag myself to church sometimes. We behave normally, we sing in worship, take communion and listen to the sermon. We recognise Jesus, and indeed some of us have known him since we were kids. We are familiar with the Scriptures and acknowledge that Jesus is the “Holy One of God”. But so did the demon-possessed man.
James the brother of Jesus addressed this in his sarcastic best when he wrote, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:19)
So the question is, how different are we from the demons?
No Better Than The Demons
The demon-possessed man screamed at Jesus, “Go away!” Have we said the same to Jesus, perhaps in a softer voice or in our hearts? I’ve lost count of how many times the Holy Spirit reminded me of Jesus when I was tempted, and how I chose to ignore his sacrifice, and succumbed to sin. I had, through my actions, told Jesus to “Go away!”
The demon-possessed man questioned Jesus, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” I’ve asked God the same questions many times before, when things go wrong and I’ve felt let down by Him. What do you want with me? Why do bad things happen to me? Why are you against me? How much further will you let me fall? Chances are, you’ve probably had the same doubts towards God too.
“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. (Luke 4:35)
Jesus did not destroy the demon or the man. He only cast the evil out of the man, and the man emerged unhurt.
That’s what Jesus wants to do with us too. He does not want to destroy us; he wants to free us from the control of Satan, and break us from our slavery to sin. He is for us, not against us.
James had emphasised, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). What have our doubts and our actions reflected about our faith? We will never be sinless, but we must constantly strive to do better.
So the question is, are we any better than the demons?
All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. (Luke 4:36-37)
Jesus has the authority and ability to help us. Let’s study his words closely, and be refreshed by his life-changing power.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".