FROM HOSTAGE TO LIBERATOR
By Rev. Adauto Rezende
I had preached this sermon in a number of churches in different nations. My purpose was to remind Christians about the spiritual warfare that is taking place in the world. This battle has been happening for millenniums and will last until Jesus Christ cast forever Satan and his army into the lake of fire. Jesus and the Holy Spirit had warned the church about an increasing demonic action in the end-times, therefore it is essential for us to understand how to fight against these invisible evil powers. Remember, the devil is not retired. He stills the same liar, the same murder, the same serpent, the same adversary.
1. Old Testament facts about the devil
In the Old Testament Scriptures, we have some answers to important questions about this evil creature. Who is he? How did he become God’s enemy? How is his character? Let’s read it:
a) He was a powerful and glorious angelical being that God created:
“‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” Ezekiel 28: 12-15
b) Sin had entered into the heart of this being. He wanted to be like God:
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” Isaiah 14: 12-15
c) He became God’s enemy and man’s adversary:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.” Zechariah 3: 1
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 2: 4-5
d) He is a deceiver
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3: 1
e) He is cruel:
“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” Job 2: 7-8
2) Jesus’s full revelation of Satan
Jesus had cast many demons from people in Synagogues, homes and in the temple. His ministry on earth was a constant spiritual battle against the kingdom of darkness. As soon as the Lord finished his forty days of fasting in the desert, the devil came to tempt Him. During the temptations, Satan told that he had received power to control the world kingdoms. And, it is important to say that Jesus did not deny the devil’s claiming:
“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Luke 4: 5-7
After refuting all the evil one's attacks shortly thereafter, Jesus went to a Synagogue in Nazareth and there he proclaimed one of his Messianic attributes: to rescue the victims from this spiritual tyrant and his kingdom of darkness:
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolli,ng it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Luke 4: 17-19
On another occasion, Jesus set free a deaf man demon-possessed and immediately he began to speak. Jewish leaders accused Christ of exorcising through the power of demons. After rebuking them, Jesus compared the devil to a military leader who conquered and plundered a territory. Symbolizing, how Satan deceived Adam, conquered his dominion and made humanity his spoil. However, the Lord informed the arrival of a stronger leader to destroy the aggressor, defeat his army and recover the spoils, meaning that Jesus is the second general who arrives, ties the enemy and frees people from his hands:
“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.” Luke 11: 21-22
3) Jesus’s practical lesson
Jesus will teach his disciples outside their religious realm, taking them for real-life training, to a gentile and pagan area not visited by the Jewish Rabbis. A place considered unclean for a religious Jew. He was on his way to free a man from Satan's domain. Jesus took them with the purpose to teach and show them:
a) What Satan can do to a person.
b) What the devil’s procedure to control God’s creatures
Mark 5: 1-20
"1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 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. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 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!” 8 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.10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them. 13 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. 14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 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. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 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. 20 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."
Jesus pointed out:
a) Regarding the victim: A man from Gadara
i. Satan does not respect age. Jesus had cast a demon from a boy
Mark 9: 21 “Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered." ("from his infancy")
ii. Satan does not respect sex
Luke 8: 2 “And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons”
b) Regarding his habitat – The tombs (place of the dead)
A situation that I saw in my ministry: I received a call from a woman who told me: “My husband is secluded. He has not talked to me or to the children for days. He seems more like a zombie". I went to see him and he was demon-possessed. I asked the evil spirit's name and he said: “I am hatred.” A few hours later he was delivered, becoming a blessing servant of Jesus (abused when he was a child, he kept bitterness and unforgiveness).
c) Regarding his spiritual condition – Insane ( he became like a wild animal)
Resembling the insanity of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel 4: 25 “They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like’ oxen."
d) Regarding his physical conditions – He was destroying himself with self-inflicted wounds
This man used stones for his scourge, while others do drugs, alcohol, self-mutilation, as well as sinful actions such as: hatred, unforgiveness and bitterness, which are poisons for the human soul.
A woman I visited on one of my mission trips was bedridden for about a year, unable to speak, incapable to take a few steps. She had 16 bottles of prescription drugs, mostly psychosomatic. Her husband left work to be with her daily, due to the woman's precarious conditions. We prayed for her and went home. That night, during my prayer period, the Holy Spirit led me to call the demonic power that oppressed her. I spoke audibly to the demon: "Jesus rebukes you and all the other spirits that are with you. Leave her now and never come back." I had in mind the passage in the book of Judas:
“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1: 9)
Returning to the character in the biblical narrative, we will ponder some questions:
What is the cause of such madness in this man?
How a human could become a maniac?
Was there any cure for his madness?
Jesus will reveal the cause (they saw the effect of something unknown to them) the intruders (attackers)
Jesus reveals that demons have no problem with space (they are spirits). Their number - A Legion (A Roman legion was made up of 6.000 men) (Mary had 7 demons)
“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!” "Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many."
Their destructive power – They killed 2.000 pigs v.13 (John 10: 10)
"The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.”
THE DANGER OF OUR TIMES
Our society became too sophisticated. For many Christians, this type of situation only happened in Jesus's time, or in the medieval era.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6: 12
Why did Jesus allow demons to destroy the pigs?
a) To show the destructive power of these beings
b) To reveals human values vs. Divine values v. 15-17
The people from Gadara gave more importance to their pigs rather than the man.
“What people value highly is detestable in God's sight.” Luke 16: 15
JESUS RESTORED THE MAN’S IDENTITY.
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. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 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. 19 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.” 20 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.” Mark 5:15-20
From lunatic to evangelist
From hostage to conqueror
From prisoner to liberator
4) There are important steps for Christians to overcome the devil.
I have seen individuals who became Christians, attending church for years and yet, still oppressed. Check it out the following important steps to overcome the devil:
YOU MUST BRAKE SPIRITUAL PACTS AND RENOUNCE IT
“And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver." Acts 19: 18-19
Witchcraft, spiritualism, necromancy, new age practices, drugs (Pharmakos – Rev. 22: 15), horror movies, idols, Eastern religious practices (Hinduism, Buddhism), are an open door to demon possession.
On New Year's Eve in 1998, I got home around 1:30 am. When I heard my answering machine, there was a mother screaming for help, for her son was possessed by evil spirits. I went to the place with my wife and, when we arrived, we came across a terrible scene; broken glasses and furniture, bottles on the floor, and the family in despair. The demon shouted my name, questioning me about my arrival. Ignoring him, I asked the spirit how he got into the teenager and he pointed his finger to the young man's father beside us. His father had a great collection of new-age literature and the boy a shoebox full of cards with demonic faces and mantras. This object was revealed to me days after his deliverance in a dream. The Lord showed me the colour and the place in his room where it was. (Today the family attend a gospel church and are faithful Christians)
Another situation happened when my mother accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. However, she was still very depressed and ill. I asked her if she had practiced witchcraft at some time in her life. She confessed a visit with my father to a sorcerer, where they performed a ritual with the blood of a chicken. I showed Mom in the Word of God that their action was not only sinful; it also gave the devil the right to continue oppressing her. After she broke that pact, Mom, was completely freed and healed from depression and other illnesses.
SUBMISSION TO GOD’S WORD
James 4: 6-7 “Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
Worldliness and pride - Worldliness and pride - some Christians are too proud and become their own authority. Such people despise their spiritual leaders placed by God in their lives, therefore, for lack of obedience and submission, the devil does not run away from them. For this reason, they are arrogant and, at the same time oppressed.
You must believe in the word of God which guarantees divine power over Satan’s realm. Jesus did not say that he gave power to apostles, pastors, evangelists or high-rank Church members, but to everyone who believes. Anyone of Jesus' followers can cast demons, however, we must believe it.
Back to the story in one of my missions trip, I spoke about the sick woman. Later In the next day, we went to her house, and when we entered, she was standing and cleaning her kitchen. Smiling, her face was different. She was listening to a hymn on the radio and made us a coffee. We stayed there for about 30 minutes and after praying she told us what had happened to her. She said, “It was about four in the morning, and I saw a figure rising from my bed, opening the door and leaving my bedroom. Immediately, thinking to be my husband, I got up, however, when I looked he was sleeping. At that moment, I felt like a burden coming out of my body. Confused, I closed the bedroom door and slept again. When I got up in the morning, I was completely healed. I had no fatigue, shortness of breath or any other symptoms."
This woman went back to church, her husband returned to work, and she was completely delivered. Glory to God! He gave us the power to cast out demons. Use your faith!
Your job is to believe:
"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;" Mark 16: 17
“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you" Luke 10: 19
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." I Peter 5: 8-9
“So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9: 29
Athletes need training before the competition to beat their opponents. A Christian must be prepared before the battle. How? Two important disciplines:
PRAYER AND FAST
Of course, if you are not physically well to fast, you can think of abstaining from watching TV or the Internet for a few days. Or even avoid some food that you really like. (See Daniel 10: 1-2)
The Lord came to set you free.
The Lord did not save you to be in bondage, but to be a liberator.
To God all the glory!