When Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit … Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
The man possessed by demons in Mark 5 was utterly alone. He was alienated from his community and, in a very real sense, alienated from himself. He defined isolation. He was greatly in need of help.
We may think we are nothing like this man. After all, we go about clothed. We are able to reason. No one has tied us up. We are not possessed by demons. Yet this man serves as a sobering illustration of our spiritual condition. The Bible says that, by nature, we are all ruled by dark and sinister forces and are dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). Outside of Christ, we may as well be living among the tombs. Outside of Christ, we are the living dead.
This reality is what makes an encounter with Christ so dramatic. For each of us, salvation is an encounter between life and death, light and dark, the power of Christ and the power of evil. The gospel does not just give purpose to life. The gospel is life itself.
This reality is also what makes our transformation in Christ so painful. We should not pretend that surrendering to Christ is easy. When this man possessed by demons encountered Jesus, he seemed to know that Christ was the one who could set him free—but at the same time, he was afraid of what that change would mean. Sinclair Ferguson says, “No man yields to Jesus easily by nature. Tragically, like [this man], men often hold on to their bondage in evil rather than yield to the pain of transformation by Christ’s power and grace.” It is painful to give up our little gods, painful to leave our dark captivity and emerge blinking into the light. But Jesus will allow no other gods before Him, for He will not allow any of His people to remain enslaved.
Only Jesus can cast out evil permanently. That is what this man experienced (Mark 5:15, 18-20), and that is what our lost friends and neighbors ultimately want. They don’t just need a religion or system to make them better people. When they’re honest, they know the problem lies primarily within them, not around them. Then they wonder, “Is there a power strong enough to conquer the evil within me?” There certainly is, and His name is Jesus—the one who went through His death in order to rescue us from ours!
Today, let God remind you of what you are apart from Christ: alienated, lonely, lost. And then ask Him to assure you of what you are in Christ: an ever-living recipient of His eternal mercy. By nature you are a sinner, and in Christ you are saved. The more you grasp this, the more humble and joyful you will be.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.