Q. Is it time to say, not today, Satan? The fight is not over you, but your your circle of influence
One thing I've finally become convinced of is that LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME. That's hard to fathom when chaos is happening to you and around you. We are each part of a bigger picture, a picture that God sees far better than we. You're under attack for a reason and this concept shocks us, I suspect for at least two reasons:
First, we live in an age that strongly emphasizes the dignity, rights and importance of the individual and of itself this is not bad, however, the importance and needs of the individual must be balanced against the common good, and the needs of others. God alone knows all this and what is best for all involved, not just me.
Second, we live in an age that strongly emphasizes physical health and comfort, as well as emotional happiness. While these things are truly good, there is a greater good. And the greatest good is our spiritual well being, our faith and holiness. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but God is far more concerned with our eternal destiny than our present comfort. We don’t think this way. We tend to value our bodies and physical well-being more than spiritual matters. Not so with God.
Mark 5: 1-20
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, 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.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And 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 impure 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.
I'm almost embarrassed to say that if I'm not careful I can read the bible like I'm watching a good movie. With all the suspence and drama you get caught up in the action, are moved deeply, then when it concludes you talk about it with great excitement with your friends, but it doesn't really apply to you. This is one of those stories. Somewhere in this account God was speaking to me. Like all things, I had to go in search of it's deeper meaning because, God I'm not demon possessed or cutting myself in a cave. Then God revealed so much more.
As I looked deeper I noticed that there was a conversation happening on a dimension beyond the human realm. The impure spirit is speaking with Jesus uttering things that hadn't yet to be revealed. He says, "Jesus, Son of the Most High, a revelation yet to be revealed even to the disciples. There's a battle that we are unaware of and although it involves us, it's not about us. Legion had enjoyed attacking the man watching him inflict pain and injury on himself, separating him from the world. Using himself against himself.
Is Satan using you against you? Are you cutting yourself down with 'I'll never be anything, I'll never be able to overcome this, or no one will ever love me." Legion is organized against you, but all he can do is use you to torment you. As he negogiates with Jesus we learn it wasn't about the man. Satan is fighting for the territory. Your territoy is your circle of influence. If I can paint the picture of this crazy, lunatick, unkept man he will have no influence in the town, but he had to go through Jesus! Satan has to go through Jesus to get to us! That does not mean no pain, but it means that God is forever in control even when we suffer.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out 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, but said, “Go home to your own people 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 in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
This demoned possessed, outcast, self deprecating, man was the focal point of Jesus' miracle. A reminder to us that God can use anyone to achieve His purpose. The man asked to go with Jesus, but was denied, but for a reason. What are you begging God for that he is saying 'no' to? He said no to what seemed like a realistic and spirtual request, to remove this believer from a city of non-believers. Here the people were asking Jesus to leave them. Leave their region. They weren't falling on their knees in worship so why would Jesus leave this man among them? God's picture is bigger than ours. He hadn't travel across the lake, and calmed the waters just to heal a man suffering in great torment dwelling in a cave anymore than he came for Mary and Martha when he allowed Lazarus to die and dwell in the tomb. He came for a greater cause.
Prior to this incredible event Jesus tells the disciples in Mark 4: 35, “Let us go over to the other side.” Jesus had a plan. The man was a part of that plan long before we pick up the story. Satan, unable to stop God tries to stop the plan by stopping the man. We see the same scheme with Job. But our God is never defeated. He may have to alter the course based on our response to the battle. Going to the other side was greater than crossing a lake, it was greater than rescuing a hurting man, it was crossing over and bringing God into the Decapolis, the center of the Greek and Roman culture. We see the saving of one, ourselves, but Jesus was seeing the saving of many. You're up under attack for a reason!
Your story, my story, is a part of God's greater story. But because of the pain we don't see the point. Satan and his legion knew the importance of the man in God's plan so he attacks.
He also knows the importance of you in God's plan so you are under attack. It's time to say "not today, Satan." The truth is, the devil isn't interested in you, he's after the influence that you, in your right mind, will have. He is afraid of what you will become so he keeps you cutting and tearing yourself down. Not today, Satan.
We have a superhero in our corner. Jesus came through the storm to get to the demon possessed man. Today, pause and look at the storms he has already traveled through to get to you, then ask yourself why then am I still cutting myself? Am I continuing to dwell in my cave inflicting pain on myself when I have been freed?
We see that Jesus is willing to rank faith and spiritual well-being above physical and emotional comfort. He is also willing to act for the good of many, even if that means some difficulty for the few or the one. This many rankle our “self-esteem culture,” but, to some extent we are a little to “precious” these days, and it is good to be reminded we are not the only one who is important, and that we don’t exist only for our own sake, but also for others and for the glory of God.