“Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” (Luke 8:35)
Our culture likes to ridicule the concept of Satan and demons. Yet these demons are formidable and powerful beings, not heroic, romantic, or humorous as they are often portrayed by the media or Hollywood. We see their true nature from Jesus’ encounter with the demon possessed man in the country of the Gerasenes. The demons had debased and abused the man, something which they seek to do to all people. They had stripped him of his humanity so that he resembled an animal, a brute beast, a man totally ruled and enslaved by sin. He dwelt alone among tombs, places that were unclean. Everyone was afraid of him and had given up on him.
One major aspect of Jesus’ ministry was defeating Satan and his followers. Therefore He went out of His way to confront Satan’s forces who had possessed this one man. Jesus was not intimidated even though the demons tried to scare Him by referring to themselves with the name “Legion”, a name which merely meant that there were a large number of demonic spirits in possession of the man, so don’t mess with me! That, along with the man’s ghastly look, disgusting smell, bizarre actions and terrifying cries would cause most of us to panic and run. But not Jesus. He did not negotiate, waste time or argue. The demons were forced to acknowledge that they were in the presence of the Almighty Himself. He cast them out with a command.
While cases of demon possession still occur today, the most common and deadly attacks of the devil are much more subtle. They come in the form of temptation. Satan leads us to believe that sin is not so bad, and in fact, it is good. A person who becomes enslaved to sin may indeed open him or herself to outright possession. In addition to temptation, the devil tries to convinces us he does not exist. Or else he belittles us and tells us we are no good, that we are nothing but swine. In this way he hopes to make us despair or turn from God, to embrace sin and our sinful desires. He tempts us to reject God’s love and law and so perish.
When the devil attacks we must always cling to Jesus. He is the supreme authority. He will defend us if we hold fast to our faith in Him and His word. As Luther wrote “One little word shall fell him.” Luther acknowledged that he meant the word “Liar!” We would do well to remember this when tempted for it is a lie that sin is helpful, necessary or good. Of course we also know that Word above all earthly powers is Jesus. When we call on Him in the midst of temptation He will always help. Because of Jesus we need never fear the devil.