Getting Rid of a Demon

Bible Book: Mark  9 : 14-29
Subject: Demons; Deliverance; Peace; Prayer and Fasting

Although this passage records an incident which occurred in the first century, and has to do with circumstances that are strange to us, it teaches some powerful, timeless lessons--some of which are disturbing and convicting, and some of which are comforting, but all of which are important for every one of us. We read in this passage about a remarkable miracle of deliverance; it involved getting rid of a demon.


Notice first the extreme pathos of the situation. In verses 14-18 we read:

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him; and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away....”

The Bible certainly does not teach that every case of physical affliction is the result of demon possession, but sometimes it is--and such was the case here in Mark 9. Satan constantly strives to destroy people’s lives, including yours and mine. Sometimes he works through his demons and sometimes in other ways. He delights to inflict physical hurt and sometimes does, as in the case recorded here.

However, his main goal is to cause moral and spiritual ruin. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” His first objective is to distract lost people from from seeking salvation, and to make their lives as wretched and wasted as he possibly can.

His second objective, then, is to afflict Christians and to make them sorrowful and unproductive. In Luke 22:31 Jesus said to Simon Peter, “...behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”

Multitudes of people today are miserable and defeated because Satan, by one means or another, has ruined their lives. Don’t make any mistake as to who is behind all that is evil and hurtful; it’s the devil--Satan. He’s behind the liquor and drug traffic; he’s behind the sexual immorality that runs so rampant today; he’s behind the filthy movies and TV programs, the so-called music that contains unholy, degrading lyrics, the lewd printed materials, and the internet pornography; he’s the author of all that is God-dishonoring and unclean and putrid.

The pathos of the wrecked lives all around us ought to weigh upon our hearts and move us to action.


Look also at the powerlessness of the disciples. According to verse 18 the man said to Jesus, “...I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.”

Why couldn’t they? When Jesus sent forth the twelve (Mark 6:7, 13) and later the seventy (Luke 10:1), one of the commands he gave them was to cast out evil spirits, and apparently they experienced a notable measure of success. Luke 10:17 says, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” But now the disciples that were with Jesus couldn’t, because they hadn’t met God’s conditions for that kind of power.

How sad that all too often we twenty-first century Christians also find ourselves powerless in the face of the God-given assignments that are ours--such as soul-winning, leading believers into experiences of service and growth, and combatting the social evils that threaten to destroy our homes and our nation.

How their powerlessness and lack of faith saddened the Savior’s great heart, and our spiritual weaknesses today must surely have the same effect. In verses 19-21 we read:

“He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.”


We see in verse 22 the plea of the heartbroken father: “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

Notice that the father so identified with his son’s need that he said, “Have compassion on us.” If you and I are to be effective in pointing others to the Savior we must have that same kind of concern--the kind that causes us to hurt with those who are hurting. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

It’s good that this man came to the right source for help, because the kind of help he needed simply could not have come from anywhere else. In John 6 we read that many were turning away from Jesus as they were confronted with the stiff challenges of real discipleship, and in verse 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” According to verse 68 Simon Peter said, “...Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “Many times I’ve gone to my knees because there was nowhere else to go.”

There may be all sorts of resources that look promising; but for the miracle of deliverance from Satanic or demonic affliction the only valid source of help is Jesus Christ. Wisely, therefore, did this heartbroken father direct his plea to the Savior.


Then, in verse 23 we see the Lord’s promise: “Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Jesus was saying, in effect, “Friend, you’ve got the ‘if’ in the wrong place. If you can believe, all things are possible.”

The obvious meaning of “all things” is all things that are within the scope of God’s will. Sometimes, for reasons that are beyond us, it isn’t God’s will to deliver from physical handicaps or illnesses. In 2 Corinthians we read of how the apostle Paul pled for God to remove his painful “thorn in the flesh,” but God said “No.” However, God went on to say, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “...My grace is sufficient for thee...,” and he poured such strength into Paul’s life that Paul was delivered from the defeat that his “thorn in the flesh” had threatened to cause.

But moral and spiritual deliverance is always God’s will--it is always his will to deliver people from the clutches of Satan or his demons, and that most certainly includes delivering the lost from the condemnation of sin. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

It is also his will to deliver believers from attacks by Satan or his demons.

2 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” The author of Psalm 18:2 testified, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer....” In Psalm 50:15 our Lord gives this great invitation: “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Moral and spiritual deliverance are always available to those who will believe. So, don’t lose hope in regard to that loved one or relative or neighbor or fellow worker, regardless of how steeped in sin he might be, or regardless of how obstinate and disinterested he might be, for “all things are possible to him that believeth.”


Look now at this man’s profession of faith in verse 24: “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

As someone has expressed it, “The majestic words of Jesus were like the blow of steel upon flint; they ignited the little spark of faith that lighted up this father’s soul in part--although there also still existed unillumined darkness in some of the caverns of his heart.”

The man called Jesus “Lord.” I don’t believe he was using the word “Lord” merely as a term of respect; I believe that he was going far beyond that and ascribing divinity to Jesus; I believe that he was saying to him, in effect, “Master, I believe you are the promised Messiah, sent from heaven, and I hereby place my life in your hands, to be under your control.”

This man’s faith was far from perfect, yet Jesus responded to his plea--all of which reminds us that our God is sympathetic to honest doubt. Doubt is certainly nothing to be proud of; but when it exists we need to frankly admit it and take it to Jesus.

So, even a little bit of genuine faith can have large results. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus said to his disciples, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Obviously, that promise assumes that the mountain in question is one which God wills to have moved--but if a desired event of any kind is within the will of God, and if we exercise genuine, God-honoring faith, then great things can happen.

The fact that the man asked for Christ’s help in dispelling his doubt and increasing his faith reminds us that ultimately we, too, are dependent upon God for the development of our faith. On one occasion, according to Luke 17:5, the apostles said to Jesus, “Increase our faith.”

Yet in another sense we, ourselves, are responsible for having faith and then increasing it. We must, by a conscious act of the will, decide that God’s Word is true and take our stand upon it. Jesus said to the man here in Mark, “...if thou canst believe....” But once we’ve decided to take God at his Word, then as we call on him he will help us to grow in faith.

Dr. George Truett, commenting on Mark 9:24, said, “That is a glorious prayer. You do not wonder that Daniel Webster wanted it carved on his grave stone: ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’”


In verses 25-27 we read of the performance of the miracle:

“When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.”

There was no human explanation for what happened; it was clearly and without question a miracle of deliverance wrought by almighty God. That’s what he longs to do today. He longs to break the power of cancelled sin and set the captives free. He yearns to deliver from depression and degradation those loved ones, neighbors, and friends about whom you and I are concerned--and he can do it, just as he did then.


Now, notice the puzzlement of the disciples. Verse 28 says, “And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?”

Perhaps you and I often ask the same question; we hear of or see stirring examples of Christians being instrumental in leading people to the Lord to be delivered from their moral and spiritual bondage, and we sometimes ask with embarrassment, “Why can’t I be instrumental like that? What am I not having those experiences?”


Then Jesus explained the price that has to be paid for that kind of power. Verse 29: “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”


I’m convinced that the main thing to be said about prayer is that we simply need to “get at it.” Of course we must pray according to the conditions God set forth in his Word, including praying with the right motivation; but if we’ll get at it and stay at it long enough and earnestly enough, God will shape us up even as we pray. He’ll teach us to pray, and then he will respond to our entreaties. There’s no substitute for prayer.

In Genesis 32 is the account of Jacob making his way back home after an absence of fourteen years. As he moved into the last leg of the journey he learned that Esau, his brother whom he had mistreated years before, was coming toward him with a large crowd of followers. Jacob’s heart was filled with terror and he began to pray for God to help him. At first he was simply asking deliverance from Esau’s wrath. Verse 11: “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.”

But as he continued to struggle and wrestle in prayer throughout the night, he became concerned about more than simply “saving his skin,” and his life was transformed. According to verse 28, toward daybreak the angel of God said to him, “...thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” In verse 30 we read: “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

After Thorwaldsen had completed his famous statue of Christ he brought a friend to see it. Christ’s arms were outstretched, his head bowed between them. The friend said, “I cannot see his face.” The sculptor replied, “If you would see the face of Christ you must get on your knees.”


Jesus said that the price of spiritual power for getting rid of demons is prayer and fasting. Whatever else fasting means, it means devoting yourself so intently to seeking God’s face and God’s blessing that by a conscious act of the will you leave off normal food and drink intake for an extended period of time. Fasting has definite physical benefits, but it is primarily a spiritual discipline.

Several years ago when my wife and I were members of Bellevue Baptist Church I was involved in the church’s Evangelism Explosion outreach program. One night I led a team consisting of me, a middle-aged lady, and an older man. As we got in the car and started out toward a particular address, I remarked that I hoped and prayed we would have a good visit. The lady said, “We will.” She went on to explain: “I have fasted all day and asked God to help us experience his power and blessing tonight, and he has assured me that we will have a good visit.”

We arrived at the address, and were glad to find the prospect at home. She was a young woman who was going through a traumatic divorce. When the gospel was presented, without hesitation she bowed her head, wept, confessed her sins, and asked Jesus to come into her heart to be her Lord and Savior. When she looked up after the prayer, it was obvious that her prayer was for real; she looked as if the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders. That next Sunday morning she made her public profession of faith, and then the following Sunday was baptized, and from all accounts continued to be faithful to the Lord. All of us had prayed--but there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the lady’s fasting made the difference that night.

If you’ve never done so, I challenge you to repent of your sins and, in faith, to commit yourself to Christ--and he will deliver you from the bondage, misery, and condemnation of sin; he’ll make you a new person. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

If you’re already a believer, but Satan or his demons are attacking you and fouling you up in your efforts to live for Christ and do the right thing, deliverance can be yours--but as Jesus reminded us, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

Whatever your problem, whatever your need, let go and let God have his way, and one way or the other, God will deliver you. In some situations he miraculously removes the problem, and in other cases he allows the problem to remain but pours such power and strength into your life that you have victory in spite of the circumstances--in other words, he delivers you from defeat.

But he will always, in every case, deliver believers from demonic attacks if we meet his conditions of prayer and fasting.