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The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men February 10, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 8:28-34.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus encounters two demon-controlled men near Gergesa. These demons acknowledge His:

  • identity as the Son of God
  • ability to free their human hosts from their control.

Jesus then allows them to enter a nearby herd of pigs – causing the pigs to commit suicide. The villagers respond by entreating Jesus to depart from that area.

Thoughts: Here, we see that the residents of Gergesa beseech Jesus to leave them after He demonstrates His authority over demons. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Fourth, let us not leave this passage without observing the worldliness of the Gadarenes, among whom this miracle of driving out demons was performed…They did not care that two fellow-creatures, two immortal souls, had been freed from Satan’s bondage…they cared for nothing but the fact that their pigs were drowned and “their hope of making money was gone” (Acts 16:19). They ignorantly regarded Jesus as one who stood between them and their profit, and they only wished to be rid of him.

While Ryle’s explanation of the Gergesenes’ actions may be correct, I would posit the following alternate hypothesis. Note that the Gergesenes had just observed a miracle where Jesus had demonstrated His sovereignty over demons – resulting in the dramatic suicide of a herd of pigs. Wouldn’t they have been filled with fear at this point? Perhaps they wrestled with questions such as:

  • Could Jesus order the demons to enter them?
  • Could Jesus perform another miracle that would harm them?

I am skeptical of Ryle’s explanation, as I doubt that the Gergesenes were merely upset about the loss of potential income through the death of their pigs. If I had been in their position, I would have cowered in terror. I certainly hope to query Ryle in this point in the next life.

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Jesus Heals Many February 2, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 8:14-17.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus fulfills a prophecy in Isaiah 53:4 by performing the following miracles:

  • curing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever
  • healing many who are controlled by demons.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus exercises His sovereignty over the spiritual world. As a believer in a First World country, I cannot recall an encounter with demonic forces. Thus, I – and, I suspect, others in similar circumstances – readily ignore the reality of the spiritual world. We observe the physical world and assume that it constitutes the totality of reality. Yet this passage should disabuse us of that notion. Perhaps we need to respond to this passage by humbling ourselves and asking God to equip us with the requisite tools for battling the influence of demonic forces. If He ever allows them to assault us – according to His good plans for us – we want to emerge victorious over them.

The Armor of God June 9, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Ephesians 6:10-20.

Summary: Paul begins by exhorting the Ephesians to always look to Christ for their strength. He instructs them to put on the full armor that God has provided so that they can defend themselves against Satan. This stems from the fact that they struggle not with men but with demons – who 1) have authority in the kingdom of darkness and 2) are celestial beings. Since the Ephesians have these enemies, they should put on the full armor that God has provided so that whenever they are tried, they can resist demonic attacks and emerge victorious. In particular, they should:

  • know and believe God’s truth
  • put on the righteousness of Christ
  • be filled with eagerness, as the Gospel has made peace between them and God
  • have faith in Christ as the Son of God and as their Savior – protecting them from the fierce attacks of Satan
  • hold to the fact that they are saved
  • use the Bible, which has been given to them by the Holy Spirit.

They should also pray:

  • constantly
  • both formally and randomly to God
  • under the influence of the Holy Spirit
  • vigilantly for all believers.

Paul then asks the Ephesians to pray that God would help him to proclaim the divinely revealed Gospel message freely and boldly. He concludes by stating that he has been commissioned by Christ and is currently imprisoned – yet he asks the Ephesians to pray that he would be able to fulfill the role that Christ has given him.

Thoughts: In verse 16, we see that faith in Christ is required to repel the attacks of Satan. Hodge offers some thoughts on this point:

The obvious allusion here is to those missiles used in ancient warfare, around which combustible materials were bound, which were ignited and thrown against the enemy…As burning arrows not only pierced but set on fire whatever they pierced, they were doubly dangerous…It is a common experience for God’s people that at times horrible thoughts – unholy, blasphemous, doubting, malignant – crowd on the mind, which cannot be accounted for by any ordinary law of mental action, and which cannot be dislodged.

The fact that Satan’s attacks are characterized as “flaming arrows” highlights their deadly nature – if believers do not cling to their faith, they could lose their salvation. I also appreciate Hodge explicitly stating the predicament that all Christians regularly face – the problem of thinking “horrible thoughts.” I can attest that attempting to rid my mind of such thoughts has proven to be a futile endeavor – which highlights my need for a Savior who I can cling to. Indeed, if I were to cease relying on Christ as my Savior, Satan would be able to bring my soul closer to destruction; thus, I must remain vigilant against Satan’s attacks.

Verse 18 highlights the importance of prayer in our struggle with Satan. Hodge offers some pertinent thoughts on this point:

It is not armor or weapons which make the warrior. There must be courage and strength – and even then he often needs help. As the Christian has no resources of strength in himself and can succeed only as helped from above, the apostle urges the duty of prayer.

When reading through this “armor of God” passage, believers often fall into the trap of only focusing on verses 11-17. Yet we must remember that without prayer, our struggle against Satan will end in our defeat. Prayer may seem rather mundane, yet it is a God-given weapon – it allows us to communicate with the One who enables us to emerge victorious in all of our battles with Satan. This further illustrates the ultimate dependence of believers on God and His mighty strength. In some sense, prayer enables us to put on and utilize the full armor of God; if we do not pray, we cannot use this suit of armor.