«AN ASTOUNDING MIRACLE NO. 1765 A SERMON PREACHED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 10, 1884, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, ...»
Note further, for we must show you how our Lord selects the worst of cases, it was a man in whom the evil spirit was at his worst. Kindly look at the fourth chapter of Luke, verse thirty-three, and you will see that in this man there was “the spirit of an unclean devil.” Think of that. The devil is never particularly clean at any time, what must an unclean devil be? The ruling spirit in the man was not only a devil, but an unclean devil. Satan sometimes cleans himself up, and comes out quite bright and shining, like an angel of light, but do not mistake him, he is still a devil, for all his pretended purity. There are glittering sins, and respectable sins, and these will ruin souls, but this poor man had a disreputable demon in him, Volume 30 www.spurgeongems.org 3 4 An Astounding Miracle Sermon #1765 a spirit of the foulest, coarsest, and most abominable order. I suppose this foul spirit would incite its victim to filthy talk and obscene acts. The evil one delights in sins against the seventh commandment. If he can lead men and women to defile their bodies he takes special delight in such crimes. I doubt not that this poor creature was reduced to the most brutal form of animalism. I can well believe that in his body he was filthy, and that in his talk, in all the thoughts that hurried through his poor brain, and in all his actions, he went to a pitch of uncleanness upon which we need not permit a conjecture.
Let us see today the miracles of Your grace. Bring the chief of sinners to repentance! Raise up, those who are fallen to the lowest degree!
In this man there did not seem to be anything for the Lord to begin upon. When you are trying to bring a man to the Savior, you look over him to see where you can touch him, what there is in him that you can work upon. Perhaps he is a good husband though he is a drunk, and you wisely attempt to work upon his domestic affections. If a man has some point of character upon which you can rest your lever, your work is comparatively easy. But with some people you look over them from top to bottom, and you cannot find a spot for hope to rest upon. They seem so utterly gone that there is neither reason, nor conscience, nor will, nor power of thought left in them. Of all this, the possessed man in the synagogue is a striking example, for when the Lord comes into the synagogue the poor wretch does not begin to pray, “Lord, heal me.” No, his first cry is, “Let us alone.” He does not seem to resist this cry of the evil spirit in him, though it was so much to his own injury, but he goes on to say, “What have we to do with You, You Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are.” The possessed man seems wholly lost in the dominating spirit of evil which permeated his entire being. Now I look upon this, though it is negative, as a very glaring part of the difficulty, for I do not care how far a man has gone in outward sin, if he has some point left in him of common honesty, or love to his family, or a generous heart, you know where to commence operations, and your work is hopeful. Even leviathan has some crevice between his scales though they are shut up together as with a close seal. There is some joint in the harness of most men, even though mail may cover them from head to foot. But in those outcasts of whom I am now speaking, there is neither lodgment for hope, nor foothold for faith, nor more than a bare ledge for love. As the man in the synagogue was shut up within the demon’s influence, so are some men encompassed by their iniquity, blocked up by their depravity. Yet the great raiser up of the fallen can rescue even these, He is able to save unto the uttermost.
One other matter makes the case still more terrible, He was a man upon whom religious observances were lost. He was in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and I do not suppose that this was anything unusual.
The worst man of all is one who can attend the means of grace, and yet remain under the full power of evil. Those poor outside sinners who know nothing of the gospel at all and never go to the house of God at all, for them there remains at least the hope that the very novelty of the Holy Word may strike them.
But as for those who are continually in our synagogues, what shall now be done for them if they remain in sin? It is singular, but true, that Satan will come to a place of worship. “Oh,” you say, “surely he will never do that?” He did it as long ago as the days of Job, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. The evil spirit led this unhappy man to the synagogue that morning, and it may be he did so with the idea of disturbing the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am glad he was there. I wish that all the slaves of sin and Satan would attend Sabbath worship. They are then within range of the gospel gun, and who can tell how many may be reached? Yet how sad it was that the influences of religious worship had altogether failed to rescue this man from his thralldom! They sang in the synagogue, but they could not sing the evil spirit out of him; they read the 4 www.spurgeongems.org Volume 30 Sermon #1765 An Astounding Miracle 5 lessons of the day in the synagogue, but they could not read the foul spirit out of him; they gave addresses from passages of Scripture, but they could not address the unclean spirit out of him. No doubt some of the godly prayed for him, but they could not pray the devil out of him. Nothing can cast out Satan but the word of Jesus Himself. His own word, from His own lips, has power and authority about it, but everything short of that falls to the ground. O, Divine Redeemer, let Your omnipotence be displayed in turning great sinners into sincere penitents!
You see, then, what a terrible case the Master selected. I have not exaggerated, I am sure. O the comfort which lies in the thought that He still chooses to save persons, of whom this wretched being is the fit emblem and representative! O you vilest of the vile, here is hope for you!
II. Let us now look a little further and observe that OUR LORD ENCOUNTERS A FIRMLYENTRENCHED ENEMY.
The evil spirit in this man had ramparted and bulwarked himself against the assault of Christ, for as I have said, he had the man fully at his command, he could make him say and do whatever he pleased. He had that man so at his command that he brought him to the synagogue that day, and he compelled him to become a disturber of the worship. Quietness and order should be in the assemblies of God’s people, but this poor soul was egged on to cry out and make horrible noises, so as to raise great tumult in the congregation. The Jews allowed all the liberty they could to persons possessed, and so long as their behavior was bearable, they were tolerated in the synagogues. But this poor mortal broke through the bounds of propriety, and his cries were a terror to all. But see, the Lord Jesus deals with this disturber. This is the very man in whom He will be glorified. So I have seen my Lord convert His most furious enemy, and enlist unto His service the most violent of opposers.
The evil one compelled his victim to beg to be left alone, as we have it here, “Let us alone.” In the Revised Version of Luke, the same rendering is put in the margin, but in the text we have “Ah!” While the Lord Jesus was teaching there was suddenly heard a terrible, “Ah!” A horrible, hideous outcry startled all, and these words were heard, “Ah! What have we to do with You?” It was not the voice of supplication, it was distinctly the reverse, it was a prayer not for mercy, but against mercy. The translation is however quite good if we read, “Let us alone.” It is a horrible thing that Satan leads men to say, “Do not trouble us with your gospel! Do not bother us with religion! Do not come here with your tracts! Let us alone!” They claim the wretched right to perish in their sins, the liberty to destroy their own souls.
We know who rules when men speak thus; it is the prince of darkness who makes them hate the light.
Oh, my hearers, do not some of you say, “We do not want to be worried with thoughts of death, and judgment, and eternity. We do not desire to hear about repentance and faith in a Savior. All we want of religious people is that they will let us alone.” This cruel kindness we cannot grant them. How can we stand by and see them perish? Yet how sad the moral condition of one who does not wish to be made pure! You would think it impossible for Jesus to do anything with a man while he is crying out, “Let us alone,” yet it was the evil spirit in this man that our Lord met and overcame. Is there not encouragement for us to deal with those who give us no welcome, but shut the door in our faces?
The foul spirit made the man renounce all interest in Christ. He coupled him with himself and made him say, “What have we to do with You, You Jesus of Nazareth?” This was a disclaimer of all connection with the Savior. He almost resented the Savior’s presence as an intrusion. The voice seems to cry to Jesus, “I have nothing to do with You. Go Your way and leave me alone. I do not want You. Whatever You can do to save or bless me is hereby refused. Only let me alone.” Now, when a man deliberately says, “I will have nothing to do with your Jesus. I want no pardon, no salvation, no heaven,” I think the most of you would say, “That is a hopeless case. We had better go elsewhere.” Yet even when Satan has led a man this far, the Lord can drive him out. He is mighty to save. He can change even the hardest heart.
The unclean spirit did more than that, he caused this man to dread the Savior, and made him cry out, “Ah! Have You come to destroy us?” Many persons are afraid of the gospel. To them religion wears a gloomy aspect. They do not care to hear of it for fear it should make them melancholy and rob them of their pleasures. “Oh,” they say, “religion would get me into Bedlam, it would drive me mad.” Thus Satan by his detestable lies makes men dread their best friend, and tremble at that which would make them happy forever.
Volume 30 www.spurgeongems.org 5 6 An Astounding Miracle Sermon #1765 A further entrenchment Satan had cast up, he made his victim yield an outward assent to the gospel.
“I know who You are,” said the spirit, speaking with the man’s lips, “the Holy One of God.” Of all forms of Satan’s devices, this is one of the worst for workers, when men say, “Yes, yes, what you say is very proper!” You call upon them and talk about Jesus, and they answer, “Yes, sir. It is quite true. I am much obliged to you, sir.” You preach the gospel, and they say, “He made an interesting discourse, and he is a very clever man!” You buttonhole them, and speak about the Savior, and they reply, “It is very kind of you to talk to me so earnestly. I always admire this sort of thing. Zeal is much to be commended in these days.” This is one of the strongest of earthworks, for the cannonballs sink into it, and their force is gone. This makes Satan secure in his hold on the heart. Yet the Savior dislodged this demon, and therein displayed His power and authority.
Have I not proved my point? Jesus selected a most unhappy individual to become an instance of His supremacy over the powers of darkness. He selected a most firmly-entrenched spirit to be chased out of the nature which had become his stronghold.
III. We have something more pleasant to think upon as we notice that OUR LORD CONQUERED
IN A MOST SIGNAL MANNER.
The conquest began as soon as the Savior entered the synagogue, and was thus under the same roof with the devil. Then the evil one began to fear. That first cry of “Ah,” or “Let us alone,” shows that the evil spirit knew his Conqueror. Jesus had not said anything to the man. No, but the presence of Christ and His teaching are the terror of fiends. Wherever Jesus Christ comes in, Satan knows that he must go out. Jesus has come to destroy the works of the devil, and the evil one is aware of his fate. Now, as soon as one of you shall go into a house with the desire to bring the inmates to Christ, it will be telegraphed to the bottomless pit directly. Insignificant person as you may think yourself, you are a very dangerous person to Satan’s kingdom if you go in the name of Jesus and proclaim His gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ opened the book and read in the synagogue, and soon His explanation and teaching with authority and power made all the evil spirits feel that their kingdom was shaken. “I beheld,” said our Lord at another time, “Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” and that fall was commencing in this “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” The first token of our Lord’s triumph was the evident alarm which caused the evil spirit to cry out.