As Jesus was coming down the mountain…someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so…If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” He said in reply, “If I can! Everything is possible to one who has faith...bring him to me.”
Unclean spirit. It is interesting how the Lord refers to this “spirit” as an “unclean spirit.” Today is a good day to ask some honest and tough questions. How many unclean spirits do I have? How many negative and terrifying thoughts reside in me? How many impure and evil thoughts seize my heart and throw me down? How many times a day is my mind occupied by these unclean thoughts? As one of these thoughts races through me, would a stranger sitting next to me see my lips moving (as if I were speaking to…), head shaking (as if I were debating with…), and eyes rolling (as if I were disgusted by…)? Would the stranger be scared of me? Unclean spirits, like bacteria, comfortably reside in me because they never get out of me! They are not embarrassing enough to me to get rid of them! That’s what makes them so hard to die. That’s why linger for years.
Since childhood. The Lord asked this poor creature’s guardian, “How long has this been happening to him?” The man responded by saying, “Since childhood.” That’s a long time! And yes, a lot of our problems can stem from our childhood; or better yet, from the people involved in our childhood. But do I still blame my fits and failures, flirts and fantasies on my upbringing? Do I still try to solve my problems like a child or like a faithful and devoted Christian? If so, then I will continue to blame my personality and struggles on others? My targets will be those who have been closest to me…my parents, siblings, spiritual mentors, teachers, friends and neighbors. The truth of the matter is: I will never grow by blaming others. I will only grow by increasing my faith. Let’s not forget. This poor man suffered since childhood. He did not run away from the Lord. He did not even blame the Lord for his ailment! How easy it could have been to have done both! Rather, he fell before the Lord and asked the Lord for help.
Only through prayer. The Apostles asked Jesus, “Why could we not drive the spirit out?” The Lord responded, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” There are some spirits that will only be driven out through prayer. Jealousy, envy, resentment, bitterness, anger, etc…are just a few of the unclean spirits that can only be driven out through prayer. Impurity and other sexual sins can only truly be driven out through prayer. Why? Because they are ailments of the heart. And the heart can only be healed through prayer. Without prayer, all “Five Step” or “Ten step” plans will be futile, and these ugly spirits will only return with a vengeance! All of us need to be honest with ourselves. How much time do I spend in meditation? I do not mean journaling! I mean concrete and honest-to-God meditation. There are many ways to make yourself better, but how do I measure better? According to what standard? According to what rock? Am I my own master? I better not be! What I need to do is personally reflect on God’s word daily? I need to be able to measure where God is and where I am? Do I understand that my struggle exists because there is an abyss between me and the Lord?
Thinking better thoughts will not do. Doing nicer things will not do. Wishing these spirits away will not wish anything away. Asking the Lord directly in one short sentence will not be enough. What will solve all our ailments, all our temptations, and all our vices will be my decision to finally step into Christ’s sandals, the sandals I am not even worthy to untie! It will mean developing a strong desire to be born again and to live a new. It will take following the Lord, step by step, from Bethlehem to Calvary, and doing it over and over again every single year of my life! It will mean visiting his people, speaking to strangers, and witnessing the suffering of others. This way, His sacrifices will be my sacrifices, his experiences will be my experiences, His resurrection will be mine too!
Some evil spirits will never go away by what we do, but rather how we pray.