If you read the gospel accounts and the Book of Acts, one thing is common and that is the casting out of demons. Often the demon possession was tied to sickness or some physical problem such as the woman who was bent over and couldn’t straighten herself or the boy who was thrown into convulsions by the demon. But there were also the times the demons turned the person into something no-one would ever desire to be. In Mark 5:1-20 the story is told of the man who was uncontrollable. He didn’t wear any clothes. He would scream out at night and cut himself with stones. He lived among the tombs and was a terror to the community. He was possessed by so many demons that he called him self Legion because there were so many of them. When Jesus cast the demons out and allowed them to enter a herd of pigs they drove the pigs so crazy they rushed off the cliff into the sea and were killed. But the man’s whole life changed. When the people came out they saw a man who had been a terror to them with clothes on and him sitting with Jesus listening to him teach God’s will for his life.
You may be thinking, that surely doesn’t happen in our day, does it? I would guess far more often than we realize. I want to think with you about one particular form of sin that I think most have at least known of if they haven’t seen it personally. Think of the sin that causes a person to be a predator on society, when, if you talk with them at all, you learn it is something so often that they hate and don’t want to be part of them, yet seem to have no control. Perhaps there was a time when they had the control but they yielded to the temptation enough times that now they have no control over it. Let me describe a few such situations.
There was the man who seemed like such a gentlemen. He was well dressed and had a nice smile. But he had a problem with overwhelming desire for young girls. He had gone through two divorces and spent several years in prison when I met him. He had a good job and worked hard. But he had gotten too close to a young lady at church. It had started with a friendship with the girls mother. But it didn’t take long for the mother to realize it wasn’t her that he was really interested in but her young daughter. At first, it just seemed like a fatherly kind of affection that was interested in her, perhaps because he had no connection with his own daughters. But it didn’t take long for her to begin to feel uncomfortable with some of the things he did. When I entered the situation it was due to a call from the mother, who had gotten a call from one of his former wives, warning her of his addiction to young girls and explained it was because of his actions toward her daughter that led to his time in prison. When we talked it was all smiles and “I’ve been misunderstood.” But, when I mentioned having a conversation with his former wife the expression changed. When I brought up his prison time and the restrictions of his probation that I had checked out, it changed even more. He wept for a long time and declared that it wasn’t what he wanted in his life. He wanted to be free from such desire but seemed to have no control. I wish I could tell you that we prayed and the demon left him and he went on to become a great Christian man, but that isn’t how it happened at all. I told him that I was going to explain the situation to the elders and that we would all be watching his actions and if I saw the slightest hint of him even making a passing glance toward any of the young girls I would call him out on it publicly and he would never be allowed in that building again. I also warned I would call his probation officer if I even heard of such a thing again. He said he was penitent. We prayed for his forgiveness and God’s help. But he soon left us and became part of another church across town. I called the preacher there and explained to him the situation and warned him that he needed to keep an eye on him. In a couple of years I got another call from a new woman he was dating who had a young daughter and the same thing was happening all over again.
I’ve met with those whose demons led to very different kinds of sin, some were of molestation, some of homosexual activity usually with someone very young, and many with the pull to pornography. Almost every time it has been the case that the person was deeply sorry and penitent. Each time they talked of how they hated that part of them but just couldn’t seem to change. I couldn’t promise this is demon possession, but I’m totally sure it is from the devil and that it is an extra ordinary kind of control of a person from the devil. Can such a person be redeemed? Yes, of course they can. After all Legion was totally changed and became the Lord’s witness in the area of Decapolis. But I also remember the story of Jesus coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration to find the apostles and a crowd gathered because they had tried to cast the demon out of the boy that was terribly afflicted by demons that had thrown him both into the fire and into water, trying to kill him at times. They tried to cast the demon out as they had done successfully before, but for some reason they were not able to cast it out. Jesus came and cast the demon out of the boy after explaining to the dad that all things are possible if you believe. This father was like so many of us when he exclaimed, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” After the boy was healed and the disciples were alone with Jesus they asked him why they couldn’t cast the demon out. Jesus made a strange statement to them. “This kind only comes out through prayer.” It seems they hadn’t been praying while Jesus was on the mount. But it also seems this was a situation that was exceptional.
I know God is able to do far beyond all we ask or even think. So, I know he can change a person if the person really wants to be changed. But sometimes it is hard. No one is beyond changing and being a new person in the Lord. But don’t just accept the fact someone has changed who has struggled with such a problem because they say they have. We owe it to the mothers, daughters, young boys or anyone that might be abused to make certain before we take any chance with one that has been a predator. Today, I would handle it differently than I have in the past. I would pray with force for God to cast that demon or demons from the person and change them from the inside out, to make them hate the things that have controlled them to the degree that they are never pulled in that direction again. I would plead with the person to learn, read, memorize Ephesians 6:10-18 and intentionally put that whole armor on each morning when they rise and pray for God to be with them and keep the demons out of their heart. I would plead with them that when the slightest urge came to go back to their old ways to call me or someone that knows the situation and confess the urges right then and to begin prayer for change again. Anyone can change with God’s help. But anyone can go deeper and deeper into the world of sin and excuse every wrong as something out of their control, thus staying a predator for life, thus living in hell now and in the afterlife and causing others to experience hell on earth.