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The Devil and Demons (Part 2 of 2)

1 John 5:18
Program

Can Christians be demon-possessed? You’ll find countless opinions arguing one way or the other. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explores Scripture’s answer to this question. We’ll learn about the devil’s strengths—as well as his limitations.

From the Sermon

The Devil and Demons

1 John 5:18

Series: Spiritual Warfare

Sermon 44:22 ID: 1680

Legacies of Faith

Legacies of Faith

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

What does faith look like? In chapter 11 of his letter, the author of Hebrews tackles this question by presenting us with a portrait gallery, as it were, of the saints of old—men and women who were commended on account of their faith. This biblical record of commendation is not meant to elevate these individuals to some superhuman status. Instead, we are to view Noah, Moses, and the rest as ordinary people from whom we can derive strength and encouragement as we reflect on how God helped them and honored their faith.

If we want to follow their example of a living, lived-out faith, we need first to see what the faith of these individuals was not. It was not a warm, fuzzy feeling deriving from emotion or circumstances, nor was it a vague notion that everything would just work out in the end. No, for these men and women, faith in practice meant believing what God had said, taking Him at His word, and then regulating their lives accordingly. In other words, as these verses tell us, their faith was an assured conviction that what God had promised would indeed come to fruition.

Furthermore, these saints of old regarded their future reality as if it were present and that which was invisible as if it were actually visible. Even if they didn’t see God’s promises fulfilled in their lifetime, they trusted His faithfulness to His word in light of eternity. Their faith was a deep-seated trust not in their circumstances in the present but in the one who had made promises about their future.

By living out their faith in such a visible way, these saints made a radical impact on their day—and so can we in ours. Whenever an individual, a couple, a family, or a church is prepared to take God at His word and do what He says, lives will be transformed. If we do so, we will better understand who God is and what He has done, and we will be better placed to make a difference in this world and for eternity.

Of all that was true of the saints presented in Hebrews 11, the one unifying characteristic which brought them to this portrait gallery was their faith in the living God—an assurance that God’s promises were able to bear the weight of their hopes and a steady conviction that what God had said was as real as what they could see. Is that your faith? Meditate on all the promises that are yours from God in Christ. Reflect on all the promises God has already kept through history and supremely in the death and resurrection of His Son. Then you will be able, with joy and determination, to set your priorities and make your decisions based on His promises, not on your circumstances.

head heart hand Going Deeper

By Faith

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two,1 they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

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Footnotes
1 11:37 Some manuscripts add they were tempted

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.

Cry to the Lord

Cry to the Lord

To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be alone directed to the Lord, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air. When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear and His ability to aid, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation. It will be in vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment, but our Rock attends to our cries.

“Be not deaf to me.” Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers, but genuine suppliants cannot; they are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will—they must go further and obtain actual replies from heaven or they cannot rest; and those replies they long to receive at once—they dread even a little of God’s silence.

God’s voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but His silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, He will not long deny us a hearing. What a dreadful case we would be in if the Lord should become forever deaf to our prayers. “Lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.” Deprived of the God who answers prayer, we would be in a more pitiable plight than the dead in the grave and would soon sink to the same level as the lost in hell. We must have answers to prayer: Ours is an urgent case of dire necessity; surely the Lord will speak peace to our agitated minds, for He never can find it in His heart to permit His own elect to perish.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

Twelve Memorial Stones from the Jordan

1When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” 4Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

8And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down1 there. 9And Joshua set up2 twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.

The people passed over in haste. 11And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

15And the Lord said to Joshua, 16“Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

19The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”3

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Footnotes
1 4:8 Or to rest
2 4:9 Or Joshua had set up
3 4:24 Or all the days

Psalm 129

They Have Afflicted Me from My Youth

A Song of Ascents.

1“Greatly1 have they afflicted me from my youth”—

let Israel now say—

2“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,

yet they have not prevailed against me.

3The plowers plowed upon my back;

they made long their furrows.”

4The Lord is righteous;

he has cut the cords of the wicked.

5May all who hate Zion

be put to shame and turned backward!

6Let them be like the grass on the housetops,

which withers before it grows up,

7with which the reaper does not fill his hand

nor the binder of sheaves his arms,

8nor do those who pass by say,

“The blessing of the Lord be upon you!

We bless you in the name of the Lord!”

Psalm 130

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

1Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!

2O Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

4But with you there is forgiveness,

that you may be feared.

5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

6my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

7O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

and with him is plentiful redemption.

8And he will redeem Israel

from all his iniquities.

Psalm 131

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

1O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;

my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

too great and too marvelous for me.

2But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother;

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3O Israel, hope in the Lord

from this time forth and forevermore.

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Footnotes
1 129:1 Or Often; also verse 2

1Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,

that the mountains might quake at your presence—

21 as when fire kindles brushwood

and the fire causes water to boil—

to make your name known to your adversaries,

and that the nations might tremble at your presence!

3When you did awesome things that we did not look for,

you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

4From of old no one has heard

or perceived by the ear,

no eye has seen a God besides you,

who acts for those who wait for him.

5You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,

those who remember you in your ways.

Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;

in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?2

6We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

7There is no one who calls upon your name,

who rouses himself to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have made us melt in3 the hand of our iniquities.

8But now, O Lord, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

9Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,

and remember not iniquity forever.

Behold, please look, we are all your people.

10Your holy cities have become a wilderness;

Zion has become a wilderness,

Jerusalem a desolation.

11Our holy and beautiful4 house,

where our fathers praised you,

has been burned by fire,

and all our pleasant places have become ruins.

12Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord?

Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

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Footnotes
1 64:2 Ch 64:1 in Hebrew
2 64:5 Or in your ways is continuance, that we might be saved
3 64:7 Masoretic Text; Septuagint, Syriac, Targum have delivered us into
4 64:11 Or holy and glorious

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

1At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

A Man with a Withered Hand

9He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

God's Chosen Servant

15Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16and ordered them not to make him known. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,

my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.

I will put my Spirit upon him,

and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

19He will not quarrel or cry aloud,

nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;

20a bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not quench,

until he brings justice to victory;

21and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

22Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The Sign of Jonah

38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Return of an Unclean Spirit

43“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Jesus' Mother and Brothers

46While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.1 48But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

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Footnotes
1 12:46 Some manuscripts insert verse 47: Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you”
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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