2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “[a]What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Mark 5:1-9
Throughout His ministry, Jesus had confrontations with several demons. This is the only time He asks the demon, what is your name? Why did Jesus ask the demon to identify himself? And why did he only ask this demon?
A legion is a unit of 3000-6000 men in the Ancient Roman army. The demon identifies himself as Legion. Indicating many demons were influencing this man.
The reason Jesus asked the demon to identify himself is for us to understand that the demonic influences in our lives are not singular. The other reason is that we need to know what we are dealing with to understand what is assailing us. So we can successfully deal with it.
Jesus knew the demons He was dealing with before he dealt with them. He had no reason for inquiring the name of this demon. Yet he does, for our benefit. The name Legion is important because it exemplifies the diversity of demonic activity. The significance is though we may deal with one demonic influence in our lives, we may still need to deal with other demonic forces in our lives. In Matthew 28: 43-45 it says, “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.
As Christians, we are to become more like Jesus, but how do we do that? We do that by becoming holy. What is holy? Holy is sinless. To become sinless does not mean to sin, less. It means to overcome the cause of the sin. Then we will become sinless.
When we deal with additions, it is not the substances that cause us to become an addict. It is how the substances fulfill a need. For instance, many people drink alcoholic beverages, and the fact is the majority are not addicted. Many people take prescription drugs, and the truth is most do not become addicted. Most people are involved in intimate personal relationships. Here again, the vast majority of those are not addicted to sex. Everyone eats; not everyone is morbidly obese. There are endless examples of additions. There are continuous detrimental behaviors that exist outside the norm in every area of life. You can’t blame the substance for the addiction or the behavior. You have to ask what is the cause of the addition or the behavior.
Nowadays, we want to assign a medical explanation to self-destructive or deviant behavior. But the truth is not everything can be explained away with a medical diagnosis. Society would have us believe that every malady besetting us has its root in the human psychic or a physical cause. However, just like every disorder is not a demonic possession, not all maladies can be explained away with a medical diagnosis.
Sometimes, what besets you is spiritual in nature, and the only effective treatment is spiritual. That is why Jesus asked the demon to identify himself to teach us sometimes to ask the question, is this demonic, or is it an outcome from the fall of man?
Not all disorders are demonic. For instance, I had a heart attack ten years ago. The cause was not an evil spirit; the cause was a wrong decision I made twenty years prior. I ignored my doctor’s recommendation to take medications to prevent the heart attack I had ten years later. I would not have had a heart attack had I followed wise counsel. This episode in my life, though traumatic for my family and me, was not demonically caused.
2 Timothy 1:7
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
“We have not been given the spirit of fear,” yet how often do we base our decisions on fear? Granted, fear can be a positive emotion. However, when fear denies you of benefit and opportunity, you have to ask yourself what is your motivation for decision making. What other reasons exist for decisions, behaviors, and thought processes.
Why do people overeat, drink too much, why do they lie uncontrollably. Why are they addicted to drugs, to cigarettes? Why do people stay in dangerous relationships? Why do intelligent, otherwise well adjust educated people persist in doing self-destructive things? Can it all be explained away as a mental disorder or a chemical imbalance? If it is a mental disorder, why is the success rate of medical treatment so poor? Why are well-adjusted, intelligent, educated people unable to overcome their addictions when presented with the facts. The easy answer is that medical professionals don’t have all the answers yet. That there are areas of the human condition that are still a mystery to them. Though this is true, is it the only answer?
Is it possible that “legions” can play a part in the addictions and the self-destructive behaviors humanity clings to? Is it a spirit that has become the controlling entity in a person’s life?
The man that came running to Jesus in this story was alive. You’ll say that’s obvious. The demon did not kill the man. He could only motivate him to harm himself. He could not kill the man. The “legion” of spirits that possessed him could not kill him. I point that out because we have this expectation that a demon will kill us. But every person Jesus delivered from demonic possession was alive. I am convinced that the devil and all his cohorts are powerless against us. They can convince us and motivate us to harm ourselves, but they cannot do it themselves.
For the vast majority of us, we will never be possessed by a demon, but we are all influenced by one or, more likely, more than one. Jesus asked the demon to identify himself to show us that our battle to be holy will not be without a struggle against the forces of evil. We must identify those evil influences in our lives so we can defeat them. You must be able to identify your foe to defeat your foe.
In the medical world, the physician spends a considerable amount of time diagnosing your problem. He takes test after test to isolate the problem. Why? So he can adequately treat it.
We must make honest assessments of our lives and determine when we need the help of others and when we need the help of God. There are times when all we need is a doctor; then there are times when only God can help.
Renewing your mind means to continuously deal with the influences in your life that deny you victory in your life.
“My name is Legion; for we are many.”