When Evil Comes to Church (Mk 1:21-34)

And they went into Capernaum, & immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue & was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, & not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man w/ an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do w/ us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: The Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, “Be silent, & come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him & crying out w/ a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching w/ authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, & they obey Him.” 28 And at once His fame spread… through all the surrounding region of Galilee.

From “The Tablet,” an RCC Website (4/17/18) by Rose Gamble & Megan Cornwell: “Easy access to black magic & Satanism via Internet increases exorcism demand.” 500,000 (estimated) requests for the rite of exorcism every year to RCC.

Last week I asked, “Have you ever encountered God?” This week I ask, “Have you ever encountered evil?” I hope this doesn’t surprise you, but you have! More times than you know. Thus the title of this message is “When Evil Comes to CHURCH!”

Demons originated as 1/3 of angels that followed Satan in rebellion against God (Is 14:12-15; Rev 12:4). Some are chained in hell right now (Jude 1:6). Some physical problems are the work of demons BUT not all are caused by demons. Jesus healed ailments w/out addressing demons, but healed the same BY casting out demons (Jn 9:1-7, Mt 12:22).

There is an evil being whose name is Satan (Lucifer, Beelzebub, The Serpent, Father of Lies). His goal is to hinder God. He seeks division, destruction, & devastation in congregations, families, & you! His goals are: 1) To keep people from believing in Christ; 2) To cause havoc in believer’s lives AND in Congregations.

Do not be deceived! There IS a spiritual war in process right now all around us! Most likely, w/ angels being in our presence we cannot see, there are also demons we cannot see! As Paul wrote in Eph 6:12

We do not wrestle against flesh & blood, but the rulers… authorities… the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

These beings aren’t the kind depicted in movies but are as described in 2 Cor 11:14-15

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants (temporal), also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

Don’t dismiss that! There IS a spiritual element to our life that plays out in daily living… what we DO see, feel, & experience!

How does that apply now? YOU have an enemy (Individually). Your family has an enemy. This congregation has an enemy! Do not think he will quit, totally give up, or never try again. He won’t.

He is so bent on destruction he’ll use anyone to hinder God’s work, you, & FBCS. Don’t believe me? If Satan used Peter to try & get to Jesus, he will use anyone to get at you! WHAT? Jesus told Satan when talking to Peter, “Get behind me Satan” (Mt 16:23). Peter wasn’t possessed, he was being used by Satan. That should cause us all pause

In today’s text we are addressing something real that is easy to miss when it comes to daily living. The point of passage is Jesus’ authority over ALL creation… physical & spiritual (Satan).

This passage presents us w/ a difficult reality. In Mk 1:23 Jesus was, in (What we’d call) church! He was teaching/preaching Scripture when the man possessed by a demon reacted violently IN CHURCH.

Point: When the Gospel (Scripture) is proclaimed, there is a visceral response. 99% of the time it’s not like w/ Jesus, but it does happen!

Demons are probably here now! If Satan still goes before God in heaven (Job 1-2) he & his demons certainly go to church NOW! But they will hide themselves to fit in, to cause havoc among God’s people. As mentioned earlier in 2 Cor 11:14-15

It is easy to expose & identify Satan’s activity in a person, family, church, or situation. I’m NOT saying he possesses people in church… though it’s possible. I AM saying his influence pervades life.

So, how is Satan exposed? How can we know if/when his influence is happening? 1 Cor 14:33, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” When there is division, arguments, anger, or absence of peace you can be sure Satan is at work! Listen to Gal 5:19-22…

The works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry (Putting anything before God!), sorcery (pharmakia), enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, & things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit IS love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Be discerning! The Adversary does NOT want us to identify him! He does NOT want to be seen, but to look like C’ians when possible to cause havoc. There are weeds among the wheat (Mt 13:24-30) & wolves among sheep (Mt 7:15)!

If we don’t recognize & resist him, we suffer. The question for us is: How can Satan be overcome when he is exposed? 1 Pet 5:6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

“Humble yourself under God’s might hand.” This is submitting to God rather than our base emotions & desires! We are to “walk according to the Spirit” so we won’t “carry out the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). THIS is “resisting {Satan}” (1 Pet 5:9).

These defeat Satan: Love, forgive, restore. Love one another… forgive one another… restore each other! LOVE, FORGIVE, RESTORE!

All three are based on JesusHIS power… HIS truth… HIS life. Yes, Satan IS powerful… but “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!” (1 Jn 4:4).

Second, “Firm in your faith.” Faith in Christ… His resurrection… & following His commands.

Living the life of Jesus is a rebuke Satan cannot overcome! Satan cannot defeat Christian love. He cannot defeat forgiveness. He does not have power when Biblical restoration takes place!

It is NOT God’s will for His people to argue, fight, then go separate ways & never love, forgive, & be restored. It is NOT God’s will for His people to get mad with one another then abandon each other moving their membership! When that happens, Satan wins.

When love, forgiveness, & restoration are practiced in an ongoing manner among God’s people, Satan loses. In an ONGOING MANNER is b/c Satan is NOT a “one & done” person. He will keep tempting, looking for a weak link/person. If anything he is persistent.

So here is what I’m trying to get across. We have an enemy. FBCS has an enemy. His goal is division & destruction. He must be resisted!

Personally: Be wise & discerning. Don’t let him use us the way he used Peter. How? Check our heart… is it Gospel centered? Are we loving God, loving our neighbor, forgiving, reconciling?

If those things don’t drive us at home & church, we are open to Satan using us to cause division & disharmony. If/when there is a problem w/ a bro/sis in Christ: Seek God… Love… forgive… restore! Phil 1:27 is our foundation text!

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (NIV)

Satan does NOT want the Gospel to spread in the Shoals. He does NOT want Jesus’ fame to be known. So he does all he can to prevent it. And honestly, he’s doing a pretty good job!

He has been successful in causing disharmony in Christians, families, & congregations. The ONLY thing that can shut him down is the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus is the Authority behind the Gospel. Thus… as we live out & follow Jesus’ Gospel… we ARE resisting the Adversary!

THE most important battle is for eternal souls. Satan wants people to be “good,” just not saved. You have a god… it’s either a capital “G” or a little “g.” Capital is Jesus, little is Satan.

Jesus’ authority over Satan can deliver you from him. But the ball is in your court. Jesus died for you to live! The question is will you today trust in Him for salvation? If not, you are not living for Jesus but are in the Adversary’s domain.