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Before and After - A Legion of Demons

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But we were not free in the world. We were bound and shackled. Chained to the sins of our lives. And even though we see that this man was able to break those chains look at the end result of that was -- he rushed off into the wilderness completely controlled by the demons! That is hardly freedom! This is again the state that Jesus often finds us in. Rushing headlong into the wilderness controlled by the very sin nature He seeks to deliver us from. Think about the scope of what has just been discussed. This is who we were without Jesus. We can tend to forget it as time passes and we start to feel more secure about our salvation but that is a dangerous snare the enemy uses to trap us in our pride again. Think of David writing Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. -- Psalm 40: 1-2 (NLT)

What pit did Jesus find you in? I remember my pit. I remember the mud and the mire my life was in. From the worldly perspective it may not have been too visible but I know all too well. It was a pit of despair and He reached down and pulled me out. He cleaned the mud off of me and set my feet on solid ground again. Every time I feel the pride of my flesh rising up in me against someone in the world and their condition I reflect back to Psalm 40 and remember the pit I was in. I try to refocus on what is at stake -- their eternal destination -- and what I can do to try and reach them with the love of Christ.

So the demons try and bargain with Jesus and He allows them to leave the man and go into a herd of pigs -- who promptly rush off a cliff. But the result in the man who was demon possessed for so long is a stark reminder of how different we are, once saved:

People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus' feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. -- Luke 8: 35 (NLT)

The first thing to note is that when Jesus delivers us we are set free. We are freed from the shackles and chains this world tried to hold us captive in and the wilderness we roamed through. This is no minor point because there are still too many Christians who do not walk in the freedom Christ appropriated for them on Calvary. We are saved by the blood but still have that one area we can't seem to get victory in and it should not be so.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -- Galatians 5: 1 (NIV)

Do not pick up the yokes of this world. Jesus set you free! Secondly, we see that the formerly demon possessed man was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Before he was delivered he was shrieking at Christ and wanted nothing to do with Him, now he is sitting at the feet of his Savior. We too when salvation comes into our lives should be sitting at the feet of the Master. We should be listening intently and with reverent adoration realizing that our new transformed condition is only through Him. The result of salvation should be the beginning of the process of sanctification. This is where we turn away from the things of this world and now start to desire the things of God. It is an ongoing process as we are transformed into His image slowly each day that we live for Him. Sitting at the feet of Jesus reminds us of His glory and our place as His servant -- something we forget too easily in this church culture.

Next we see that the formerly demon possessed man is fully clothed. He now has his covering. He now has his protection. He is no longer exposed. Not only is he fully clothed but he is perfectly sane! In the before picture we saw a crazy man out of control and unable to be tamed. But Jesus Christ can take the wildest and most unruly life and make it lie down at His feet. He took the early church's number one enemy, Saul of Tarsus, and remade him as the Apostle Paul. He took a cheating tax collector named Levi and remade him as the Apostle Matthew. He took a no good sinner named Anthony Wade and remade him as a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He can remake anyone!

That brings us to the key verses for today. We see that when we are saved we should have zeal to follow Jesus and to be with Him! This man wanted to travel now with Christ. He correctly realizes that he owes everything to Him who set him free and begs to stay by His side. Oh that we would keep that zeal once we are saved but the world and the devil keeps trying to draw us back. A little sin here and a little compromise there. Before you know it we are further away from Christ than when He first saved us. As always when that is the case -- it is not Jesus who moved. Christ gives the man his instructions to go and witness to the glory of God in his life and in conclusion we see what should be the result of a life saved. This once demon possessed man is now proclaiming throughout town the great things the Lord had done for him. He isn't proclaiming his moral superiority to anyone. He isn't proclaiming his religiosity to anyone. He isn't looking down on anyone who might still be unfortunate enough to be on the outside of salvation looking in. He is not a great theologian and probably is ignorant to Scripture yet he can do the one thing that we all should be doing in the picture of our life after Jesus saves us -- he is telling everyone what Jesus has done for him.  

That is the witness of the saints. That is the Great Commission. That is what we are all called to do. Not figure out new ways to entertain the saved but rather find anyway to reach the lost. That is what the Apostle Paul understood. That is what this formerly demon possessed man understood. Let us all understand it today and not forget it tomorrow.

Rev. Anthony

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