When God Changes A Life

Bible Book: Luke  8 : 26-38
Subject: Conversion; Salvatoin; Freedom; Purpose in Life; Demons

When God Changes A Life

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com


Luke 8:26-38:

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. 30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. 32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. 33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. 34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. 37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. 38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

The late Christian comedian Jerry Clower told a story about Uncle Versie Ledbetter who had a mule named Della. One day Della fell into a cistern that Uncle Versie thought he had covered up but hadn't. Uncle Versie had a problem. There was his best mule down at the bottom of that cistern and no way he could get the mule out of there. He didn't want her to stay down there and starve to death, so he decided he would get a shovel and cover her up. It would be cruel, but it wouldn't be as cruel and inhumane as to let Della starve to death day by day in the bottom of that deep cistern. Uncle Versie took a shovel full of dirt and threw it down into the cistern and every time a shovel full of dirt hit old Della, she'd shake the dirt off and stomp it. It wasn't long before Della had shaken off enough dirt and stomped it so that she was high enough to jump out of the cistern. You can be sure that your problems will either bury you or cause you to rise above them. When we learn to bring our needs to Christ, trust Him and commit our way to Him, we discover the way to rise above our problems. [Dynamic Preaching, Mar 1991. Pages 39-40.]

In our passage today we discover a man with severe problems, but we also see how he overcame them through Jesus Christ. If you will observe the verses immediately preceding the ones in our passage today, you will see that it tells how Jesus calmed the winds and waves of a great storm. He said, "Peace, be still!" The winds and waves obeyed Him instantly. Dear friend, please know that the same Jesus who stilled storm upon the sea can still the storm in your soul or life today. That is what the story before us is all about. What Jesus can do in the physical world, He can also do just as well in the spiritual world, the psychological world, the financial world - anywhere and everywhere in this world and outside of it.

Let's look at this troubled man and discover the love and power of Jesus at work in the life of a man with some big problems.

I. The Troubled Man

The man in this story is called Legion, and is hurting and greatly troubled. The man called Legion serves as a perfect example of any person leaving God out of his or her life. Look at some characteristics which marked the life of the man in our scripture passage today.

A. He Was Deranged

This man was insane. He was crazy and he acted crazy. Now, I'm not saying that a person without Jesus is insane or has a mental problem, but I am telling you that without Christ you cannot think as you should and could. Even a Christian is charged with the command to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-10). Even a Christian who fails to submit to God's way of thinking will eventually end up in trouble - and you will hear him ask, "What was I thinking?" A person without Jesus as Lord and Savior certainly does not have the mind of God.

Have you not watched the world around you lately and wondered if society has gone absolutely nuts? Your judgment is correct, the world has gone mad. It is a form of insanity to seek to live one's life outside the realm of the Creator who put the world here and put you in it. In the world without God, right is wrong and wrong is right. I don't mean to say that everyone without Christ lacks intelligence, to the contrary, many such people may have brilliant minds. What I am saying is that there is a form of insanity that takes place in the spiritual world which effects every part of a person's life. It leads to decisions that are destructive toward others and towards self. We see it on the news every day now and you likely see it right in front of you where you live.

Look at the scripture passage we just read. After the man in our passage today came to Christ, we read that he was, "in his right mind." Now isn't that interesting? Why did the Lord tell us that in the Bible? You see, God wants all of us to know that without Him we cannot be in our right mind. The man from our Bible text was not in his right mind before he met Christ.

Many lost people are brilliant. Many of them are very smart, but one cannot know the things of God without the Spirit of God. People without the Lord who try to discuss Spiritual things are speaking out of ignorance. You can't think God's thoughts without God in your life.

Remember the story of the prodigal son. We are told in the parable that the prodigal, "...came to himself." He was not thinking correctly before he spiritually made the decision to come home to the father. The story told by Jesus about the prodigal is about a lost person who is spiritually acting in an insane manner - or, we can say, he was living out of his right mind. There is a kind of spiritual sanity that is only available to those who come to God through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus.

The man in our story today was not called a maniac, but he is referred to as a demoniac. This means that he was under the influence of the devil and his evil spirits. This may surprise some people in our modern, super-scientific society, but demons are as real today as they were long ago. Let's get some facts straight.

Satan is very real. Demons are very real. (Matthew 4:24 - a difference in those sick and those with demons). You need to understand that there was an increase in the activity by these demons during Jesus' lifetime. They were stirred up and sought to defeat His efforts and His purpose. Now there seems to be a rise in demonic spirits in our day. How else can we explain some things which happen around us, such as Satan worship, new age religion, the growth of cults, the horrible crime rates, the return to communism and anarchy by many citizens in America? Improved education, better living conditions, more food, better medicine, rising incomes, better housing, and other things that are supposed to increase the nature of society and enjoyment in life but they have not provided what was promised. Why not? Nothing will satisfy the soul of humankind but a relationship with our Creator. That is why things are getting worse in society. Only God can lead a person to live the best life possible.

The heart of man was not meant to be a vacuum and thus the empty heart is a target for Satan. You were created to have fellowship with God and that only occurs when you have Jesus in your heart. The absence of the divine nature in a person leaves that person open to any and all kinds of mania and demon activity.

In Ephesians 3:16-17 we read, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...". God's plan is to fill your life with the presence of Jesus so that there is no room for Satan and his followers to corrupt you and destroy you.

Look at Judas. In John 13:3, the Bible tells us that Satan put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus. Then in verse 27 we read that Satan entered into Judas. There was a vacuum in Judas and Satan filled it - he always fills the vacuum, and that is exactly what he did to the man in our scripture passage today.

The man we read about today was possessed by a legion of demons, but what exactly is a legion? A legion was a contingent of Roman soldiers who were to carry out the orders of a commander. A full contingent of demons dwelt in the man who is the subject of our message today. They operated under their commander, Satan. When Jesus arrived on the scene an authority higher than Satan was present. At that point the demons had to answer to Jesus. Friend, Satan and demons are under the authority of Christ

After Jesus rose from the dead, He spoke to His disciples with these words from Matthew 28:18 ...

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

All authority is His. Satan is powerful but let us remember that He that is in you, that is Jesus, is greater than he, that is Satan, that is in the world.

When the demons in this man spoke, they gave their name as, "Legion, for we are many." Indeed, there are many unclean spirits seeking to take possession of a life without Jesus. They invade to influence you wrongfully. The poor man in our story was possessed by a legion of demons. Let me tell you that the presence of Satanic powers may well explain the dreadful condition of our society today.

The possessed man was deranged, but notice also that....

B. He Was Dead

Spiritually, he was dead. Note that he was dwelling among the tombs - in a graveyard. The graveyards in Biblical days contained tombs, which were nothing more than cave-like structures dug out of hard ground or rock. These tombs had slabs where bodies were laid.

Living people don't like to live where dead people are. No one advertises property for a family that is in or near a graveyard. Next week I am going to speak on the subject of death, physical death, but today we are dealing with another kind of death, for there is more to death than physical death. The man in our story appeared to be alive, but he was spiritually dead.

There are three kinds of death mentioned in the Bible.

  1. Physical Death (Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto man once to die...
  2. Spiritual Death (The wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23). The lost man apart from Jesus Christ is dead in trespasses and sins
  3. Eternal Death (Revelation 20:14, "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire which burns forever)

This means that Legion was dead in his spirit, and dead toward God. Not only was this man deranged and dead, but we can say that ...

C. He Was Defeated

Total defeat is written over each page of this man's biography. Look at the absence of restraint in his life. They tried to bind him, but they could do nothing with him. He was out of control. He could not control himself and no one else could control him. He was in a state of total defeat. His is the picture of the person without God. The lost person says, "You can't legislate my morality. I will do what I want. No one can tell me what to do." That is just like the man named Legion.

We have people living today with whom society can do nothing. Every attempt to rehabilitate or alter their lives fails. That was the man in our story - nothing could restrain him, and it seemed nothing could renew him.

He was defeated because he had no rest. There was no peace in his heart. The Bible says that the wicked are like the troubled sea - tossing and turning with no peace at all. The greatest unrest in the human heart is a life outside of Christ.

We have seen the Troubled Man, now let's look at the...

II. The Thoughtful Master

This story does not end in sadness because Jesus enters the picture. Let's turn our attention to the Master - the Savior - the Lord - to Jesus. We see how thoughtful He was.

A. His Concern

Can you imagine how frightened the disciples must have been when they saw this wild man bleeding from the wounds he had inflicted upon himself? I'm sure the disciples would have been happy if Jesus had ordered them back in boat to leave the area, but Jesus cared for that pitiful man. Jesus had compassion for this man who Satan had abused. You see, Jesus did not see who the man for what he was, but rather saw the man for who he could become. He saw the man in a personal, compassionate, and loving way. Look more closely at what happened.

Jesus saw this demoniac as a man, as a person, as a human being in need of a Savior. Though it may seem that no one cares for you today, I can tell you without equivocation that Jesus cares deeply for you. He cared enough to come into this sin-cursed world to die for your sins and mine. You may do things that disappoint others so much that they turn against you, but Jesus will not turn away from a hurting soul who is willing to place faith in Him.

Jesus saw this demoniac as confused and disturbed. Note that the man was asking Jesus to leave him, but that is not what he really wanted. The man actually desired and needed help, but he was vacillating. There is something in us that cries out to God, and yet there is something in us that says, "I don't want God in my life - I want to do my own thing." That is where this poor man was when he met Christ.

Jesus was concerned for the man , but now look at ...

B. His Command

Jesus had power to command the devil to do what He wanted him to do, for Jesus is greater than all the evil forces of this world. Jesus has power to command the devil out of your life. When Jesus speaks, Satan must obey. Just like with the man in our passage today, Jesus has the power to give you a new start in life.

A man woke up one day and saw his name in the obituary column of the local newspaper. He called to complain to the editor of the newspaper. The editor said, "let me tell you what I'll do, tomorrow I will put your name in the birth section and give you a brand-new start." Friend, that is just what Jesus can do for you. He has the power to grant a new birth. In essence, in the Garden of Eden the first Adam put me the death column, but in salvation Jesus put me in the new birth column.

We have seen the Troubled Man, the Thoughtful Man, now let's look at ....

III. The Triumphant Man

This is the best part of this passage - here we note that the Triumphant Man experienced a magnificent miracle.

A. Jesus Gave This Man Power In His Life

Jesus had the power necessary to change this man's life and He has the power to do the same for you.

Writing in Moody Monthly, Carl Armerding recounted his experience of watching a wildcat in a zoo. "As I stood there," he said, "an attendant entered the cage through a door on the opposite side. He had nothing in his hands but a broom. Carefully closing the door, he proceeded to sweep the floor of the cage." He observed that the worker had no weapon to ward off an attack by the beast. In fact, when he got to the corner of the cage where the wildcat was lying, he poked the animal with the broom. The wildcat hissed at him and then lay down in another corner of the enclosure. Armerding remarked to the attendant, "You certainly are a brave man."

"No I ain't brave," he replied as he continued to sweep. The observer said, "Well, then, that cat must be tame."

"No," came the reply, "he ain't tame."

Then the observer said, "If you aren't brave and the wildcat isn't tame, then I can't understand why he doesn't attack you."

Armerding said the man chuckled, then replied with an air of confidence, "Mister, he's old - and he ain't got no teeth."

Praise God, Jesus has pulled the teeth of that roaring lion, the devil. He has put out the dragon's fire. He has taken the poison from that old serpent. He can give anyone the power to overcome the enemy.

While on my sabbatical, I had the opportunity to play golf with some men in the mountains of North Carolina. My partner turned out to be head of the school of pathology at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. As we played golf, he shared his testimony with me. Alcohol had almost ruined his career and family, but he had overcome the demon of drink and salvaged a very important occupation. He then told me how he overcame his habit. He said, "Only God could help me to have victory. I was helpless until I sought His help. No one who is truly an alcoholic can fully overcome the addiction until he or she seeks God's help. With His power all things are possible." I was overjoyed to hear this man share how God had given Him victory. The songwriter penned:

"It is no secret what God can do,

What He has done for others, He'll do for you."

Now, observe that ...

B. Jesus Gave This Man Peace In His Life

Notice that after Jesus cast the Satanic forces out of this man we find him sitting at Jesus feet and in his right mind. He had on new clothes, but it was not his clothes that made him different, it was his heart that had been transformed by Christ. You see, salvation is an inside job!

C. Jesus Gave This Man A Purpose In His Life

The demoniac was changed by Jesus and then he was immediately ready to serve the Master. Note also that the Jesus gave him something to do, for He told him to go tell his family and friends all that had been done for him.

It is interesting that the local people came out to complain about what Jesus had done for this man. You see, when Jesus cast the demons into the swine, those pigs ran over a cliff and we're drowned. The local people lost a large part of their economy and you can see that they cared  more for the swine than they did for a man.

Jesus cared more about the soul of a man than anything else in the world. Jesus gave His very life to save that man's soul. The cost of saving that man was far more expensive than a herd of swine, for it cost Jesus everything.

Once this man was redeemed - changed - he was sent by the Lord to tell others what had happened to him. Everybody who has ever been delivered from the devil ought to count it a great privilege to tell others about what Christ has done. Once we are saved, we have a story to tell and the Lord commands us to go tell it.

Imagine Legion when he went home for the first time. I can see his wife and children hide from him, but then they see that he looks differently, he walks differently, he talks differently - HE WAS, IN FACT, DIFFERENT. I can imagine his children running to hug him, for their daddy was home. I envision His wife wrapping her arms around him, for her husband is now what he always meant to be. They want to know what happened to change him. Then he tells them the story of Jesus and how Jesus delivered him.


"It took a miracle to hang the world in place,

It took a miracle to hang the stars in space,

But when He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole,

It took a miracle of love and grace."

This entire story is fascinating but there is a subtle point which may be missed. It is this. Jesus did not want to use this man to create a carnival atmosphere in future services. Jesus could have taken this man with Him everywhere He went and had him give his testimony of deliverance to wow the crowd. Jesus, however, simply told the man to go back home to his family and friends, and tell them what had happened. The Lord is looking for some people who have been saved and delivered who will go out into everyday life and tell the good news of the gospel. You and I must be those people. If we have been changed, we have a story to tell. He told us to go, So WE OUGHT GO!

A group of doctors were having lunch together when one of them quietly got up from the table and left the room without saying anything. Moments later he was dead. Some food had stuck in his windpipe, causing him to choke to death in a matter of minutes. Probably any one of the other doctors in the room that day could have used to Heimlich maneuver or even performed a tracheotomy to allow him to breathe. The problem was that nobody knew the man was having a problem. He just got up and left. And he died.

Tell Jesus your problem. He loves you. He will change your life and lead you to fullfill your ultimate purpose. He can give you peace, power, and a purpose. He doesn't remove your problems - He gives you victory to live above them. Don't walk away from the answer to your greatest need. Come to Christ today.