For The One

Read: Mark 5:1-5. This man had such unusual strength that he could not be restrained by chains. No one could subdue him any longer. Chains couldn’t hold him. This show us something about evil. You cannot restrain evil by some external force. Evil behaviors come from within. People tried to restrain this man to control his evil behaviors and actions. It was not effective. He needed a different approach. He needed to be changed from the inside out.
 
The man was trying to release the pain and torment of these demons by crying out and cutting himself. But this also shows us something else about evil. Evil is destructive. Sin is always self-destructive. There is no such thing as constructive evil or constructive sin. We must be cautious of the subtle destructive power of evil and sin. It may not seem destructive at first glance. The first experiment may not have been destructive. But don’t kid yourself. Evil and sin are always self-destructive.
 
Read: Mark 5:6–8. The evil within this man quickly discerned a greater power was present in the form of Jesus. Calling Jesus by his name was an attempt of the demon to control Jesus.
 
Then the demon mocks Jesus “What have you to do with me?” (ESV) Evil is always against God. Its goal is to destroy God and anything to do with Him. This has been his strategy from the very beginning.
 
Read: Mark 5:9-10. A legion of soldiers usually numbered 6,000. The man probably didn’t have 6,000 demons in him but a great number (perhaps around 2000). No wonder no one could subdue him. He was like a Legion of Roman Soldiers all wrapped up in one man.
 
But don’t glamorize this. He wasn’t a superhuman. He was a tormented man who had slowly lost his humanity under the harsh dictatorship of these demons. Which is another effect of evil: Evil diminishes the value of humanity.
 
In Luke’s account, the demons beg Jesus to not send them to the abyss. The time for banishing demons has not yet come. But that time will come through the death and resurrection of Christ. See Colossians 2:15. A time is coming, as Revelation shows, that all evil will be vanquished and cast into the eternal lake of fire. Why wait? Evil shows us our need of a Savior.

Read: Mark 5:11–13. They had to ask the Lord of all Creation permission to enter the pigs. Evil does not have authority over Christ, the Lord.
 
Why pigs? Don’t let this part overshadow the key truth behind this passage — Jesus has absolute authority over evil. However, Evil always leads to death.
 
Read: Mark 5:14–17.
 

Jesus’ power and grace to save is available for the one you fear is too far gone.

 
When you feel that someone is too far gone, remember that Jesus’ power and authority is limitless. Do you pray for your loved ones as though Jesus really is the ultimate authority over evil?
 
Read: Mark 5:18–20. In this account we see the power of God’s mercy and love that captures and transforms those who do not even know that it exists and may initially resist it when it invades their lives. Freedom can also come to you when Jesus lands on the shores of your life.
 
Why would Jesus not allow this man to join him? Jesus’ grace for the one needs to be proclaimed freely for the next one to be saved.
 
So this story comes to a close with only one person being saved. Some might have considered this evangelistic outreach a failure. But let’s not forget that Jesus is always interested in the one. There is no such thing as crowd salvation. Jesus still saves one person at a time.
 
Jesus’ power and grace to save is still available for the one you fear is too far gone. Who is the one you know that needs to experience the saving power of Christ today?
 

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Radical Forgiveness

Jesus offers radical forgiveness in impossible situations to improbable people.
 
Read: Mark 1:40-45 (Jesus Heals a Leper)
 
Read: Mark 2:1-12 (Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man)
 
Jesus’ radical forgiveness only offends those who haven’t truly experienced it themselves.
 

Jesus offers radical forgiveness in impossible situations to improbable people.

 
Read: Mark 2:13-14 (Jesus Calls Matthew to Follow Him)
 
Jesus invites unlikely people to follow him into unlimited potential.
 
Read: Mark 2:15-17 (Jesus Eats with Sinners)
 
Jesus puts Good News within reach of those broken by sin to offer them spiritual healing.
 

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Forgive Freely

Read: Matthew 18:21-35.
 
What was wrong with this man? The same thing that is wrong with many professing Christians: They have received forgiveness, but they have not really experienced forgiveness deep in their hearts. Therefore, they are unable to share forgiveness with those who have wronged them. In other words, it is not enough to receive God’s forgiveness, or even the forgiveness of others. We must experience that forgiveness in our hearts so that it humbles us and makes us gentle and forgiving toward others. We are in very spiritually dangerous territory when we choose not to forgive others in the same manner as God has forgiven us.
 
See Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Colossians 3:13. The quality and quantity of the forgiveness that God freely gave us determines the quality and quantity of forgiveness that I should freely give to others.

Resolution #4: This year, I will forgive freely and not allow unforgiveness to poison and imprison my heart.

  So how to I resolve to forgive freely? What does it look like to forgive this way?

To forgive freely involves canceling a debt.

When you forgive someone, you also cancel a debt. But, more specifically, you make a conscious choice to absorb the cost yourself. You choose not to make the offender pay for the offense. By forfeiting your right to collect, you make at least three promises.

  1. You promise that you will not bring up the debt to use it as leverage.
  2. You promise that you will not bring up the offense to others and slander the person who sinned against you.
  3. You promise not to dwell on the offense yourself.

To forgive freely is costly, but withholding forgiveness is more costly.

No matter how you spin it, forgiveness is costly. But the parable shows us that not forgiving also has a price, and it is higher than the price forgiveness demands. In addition, holding onto an offense will make you a bitter and unloving person, and you will inevitably damage all your relationships. No matter which way you choose, you will pay a price. Which price are you willing to pay?

To forgive freely is an event and a process.

We’re tempted to think that once we have forgiven someone, we’re done. But forgiving someone is not just a past event. Even if you have forgiven someone for something they have done in the past, you need to be careful that you don’t slip into bitterness some time in the future. You need to keep practicing forgiveness every time you see them or think of them.

To forgive freely is not the same as forgetting.

Too often people say that the evidence of having truly forgiven someone is to forget what he has done to you. But our minds don’t function this way, and our ability to remember is powerful. Trying to forget a sin someone has committed against you will only encourage you to remember it.

To forgive freely means dealing with the sin in a redemptive way.

Does it seem as if forgiveness means you should just let people sin against you? The Bible never says, “Make it easy for others to sin against you.” Instead, it provides a way to deal with sin in redemptive ways.
 

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