From Ruin To Redemption

Bible Book: Mark  5 : 1-5, 16
Subject: Redemption; Christ, Power of; Evangelism

Today’s text vividly portrays the depths to which a person under Satan’s control can sink. But that’s not all that is in view here. We also see in sharp contrast to this former destructive condition the power of God to deliver one who will trust Christ by faith.

Prior to this incident recorded by Mark, Jesus had been teaching in parables on the seashore of Capernaum. The crowds so pressed in upon Him that Jesus had to enter into a nearby ship to teach the people. After Jesus had finished His teaching and dismissed the multitudes, He set sail with His disciples for the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During this one-hour trip, Jesus decided to get some rest. So He lay down at the back of the ship and went to sleep.

At some point during the voyage, a great storm came upon the tiny ship and its occupants. The disciples feared for their lives, since the ship was now filled with water. Frantically they awakened Jesus, who simply stood on the deck of that little ship, raised His voice in rebuke to the wind and the sea, and all became calm at His command. The disciples had witnessed the magnificent power of Christ over the elements.

But as though the raging storm wasn’t enough excitement for one day, the disciples were about to witness yet another shocking demonstration of their Master’s power. No sooner had their vessel landed on the shore of Gadara, a wild-eyed, demon-possessed man came running toward them. To the amazement of the disciples, when the demoniac came close to Jesus, he fell at His feet. Jesus was totally in control of the situation. Christ’s disciples learned that not only did Christ have power over the elements; He also had power over evil.

This account recorded by Mark, is a wonderful demonstration of the power of God to cleanse and forgive men and women, who have sunken to the murkiest and filthiest depths of sin. My, what a great Savior we serve! Let’s take a closer look at this account, and learn how a raging demon- controlled man came “From Ruin To Redemption,” by the power of Christ.

I. The Depths Of Satan's Control

A. This Can Be Seen In The Demoniac’s Dwelling

Mark 5:1-3a, “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3a Who had his dwelling among the tombs…”

Simply put, this man lived in the graveyard.

A bank in Binghamton, New York, had some flowers sent to a competitor who had recently moved into a new building. There was a mix-up at the flower shop, and the card sent with the arrangement read, “With our deepest sympathy.” The florist, who was greatly embarrassed, apologized. But he was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor of a deceased person. That card read, “Congratulations on your new location!” Source unknown. Taken from

Since tombs were generally carved out of the side of a mountain, creating a cave, perhaps, after being run out of town because of his deranged state of mind, the demoniac resided here simply for the shelter it would provide.

Perhaps, in some morbid, perverse way, this man felt more of a connection with the dead than with the living, since, in a very real way, death reigned within his heart.

Whatever the reason was for this man living among the tombs, as unusual as that might seem to us, it isn’t too out of character, spiritually speaking. This man was lost—without Christ. His dwelling place was in character with his spiritual condition, for he was “…dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph.2: 1). Every person without Christ is spiritually in the same condition as was this demoniac.

B. This Can Be Seen In The Demoniac’s Disposition

1. He Could Not Be Restrained

Mark 5:3b-4, “…and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.”

The word “chains” refers to “manacles,” or what we would call handcuffs.

The word “fetters” refers to a “shackle for the feet” (Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies From The Greek New Testament, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Mark In The Greek New Testament, pg. 101).

We can see from this account that this demoniac exhibited supernatural strength, in that he broke the fetters and chains with which men had sought to restrain him. However, human efforts to control this man failed miserably. Again, let’s make a spiritual application here. Just as no man could control this demoniac, who was under the control of Satan, neither can any man control his own sin nature. Only when Jesus is allowed to enter one’s heart, as Lord and Master, can the sin nature be brought into subjection. Only Jesus can tame the “Old Man” within us.

2. He Was Always Restless

Mark 5:5a, “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying…”

This tortured soul was restless, unhappy, and inconsolable. Warren Wiersbe has said, “Our old nature is restless…the world around us is frantically in a hurry. But a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life” (Men’s Life, Spring, 1998). Such was the case with this demoniac.

According to one commentator, the word “crying” makes reference to “a loud scream or shriek” (Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies From The Greek New Testament, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Mark In The Greek New Testament, pg. 101).

Can you imagine the fear that must have possessed the townspeople as they were awakened in the middle of the night by the blood curdling screams of the demoniac that echoed eerily through the mountains in the stillness of the night.

According to the Greek translation of this verse, this man’s outcries went on continually.

And throughout the night and the day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was continually screaming and shrieking. Ibid, pg. 101 & 102.

3. He Was Not Rational

Mark 5:5b, “…crying, and cutting himself with stones.”

Matthew 8:28c, “…exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”

If a rational person would not live among the tombs, neither would he purposely and continually cut himself. The Greek word translated “cutting himself” shows us the irrationality of this man. It means, “‘to cut one’s self up,’ in the sense of gashing, hacking, or cutting one’s whole body so as to leave it covered with scars” (Ibid, pg. 101).

The demoniac’s habit of cutting himself was self-destructive, to say the least. But such is the nature of sin. It is always self-destructive to the one held captive by it, and always leaves its scars.

Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst; He promises honor and pays with disgrace;

He promises pleasure and pays with pain; He promises profit and pays with loss;

He promises life and pays with death. Thomas Brooks.

Matthew tells us that this man attacked anyone who ventured to take the road by the tombs. His actions were more like an animal than a human being.

C. This Can Be Seen In The Demons’ Domination Of The Demoniac

Mark 5:9, “And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.”

This man was not his own, for there was a demonic spokesman, who spoke through the possessed man. Satan often tempts people into sin with the idea of being their own person, and doing their own thing. But the truth of the matter is that when a person gives into sin, they cease to be in control, for sin becomes their master.

It is amazing to learn just how possessed this man was. The term “legion” was normally used “…for a company of Roman soldiers numbering 6,826 men…” Ibid, pg. 103.

The following writer well sums up what Satan had accomplished in the demoniac’s life before he met Jesus.

The devil is not impersonal like stones or bureaucracies; he is a non-person. The Devil has become all that God is not; he is not beyond personality—he is without it. His purpose in creation is not to destroy God; he knows that he cannot do that. He wants to draw us into the vortex of non-personhood that he has become, and the nothingness of non-being that he is becoming. Satan, in short, aims to take as many of us with him as he can. Nigel Wright, The Satan Syndrome, Zondervan, 1990, p. 163.

II. The Deliverance Wrought By Christ

A. The Demons Recognized Christ’s Position

Mark 5:6-7a, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7a And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?”

Isn’t it strange that even the demons of Hell recognize Jesus for who He is, and yet many human beings don’t seem to have a clue?

In a 1983 Gallup poll Americans were asked, “Who do you think Jesus is.” 70% of those interviewed said Jesus was not just another man. 42% stated Jesus was God among men. 27% felt Jesus was only human but divinely called. 9% states Jesus was divine because he embodied the best of humanity. Also, 81% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians. Gallup Poll.

B. The Demons Realized Christ’s Power

1. They Realized That Jesus Possessed Judgmental Power

Mark 5:7b, “…I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.”

The idea behind the word “adjure” is that of placing someone under oath. The demons were basically asking Jesus to give His solemn word that He would not send them into torment before their time (Matt.8: 29).

2. They Realized They Could Do Nothing Without Jesus’ Permission

Mark 5:10-13, “And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great heard of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.”

III. The Difference In This Man's Conduct

A. The Former Demoniac Was Completely Changed

Mark 5:14-15, “And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

This man had been converted, and it was made obvious by the change that had taken place. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: If there’s been no change in your life, then there has been no conversion.

George Whitefield once said: “here are so many stony ground hearers who receive the Word with joy that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits ...Do you think any farmer would have a crop of corn next year unless he plowed now? You may as well expect a crop of corn on unplowed ground as a crop of grace until the soul is convinced of its being undone without a Savior. That is the reason we have so many mushroom converts, so many persons that are always Happy! Happy! Happy! and never were miserable. Why? Because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law . . . they fall away . . . That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of dubbing converts too soon. Now I wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit; for there are so many blossoms which March winds blow away that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought forth.” George Whitefield (1714-1770).

B. The Former Demoniac Witnessed For Christ

Mark 5:18-20, “And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. 20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

It is worthy of note that Jesus did not command the former demoniac to go home and become a great orator, but simply to give testimony to what Jesus had done in his personal life. Being a witness is as simply as that. Lieghton Ford once said: “I was speaking at an open-air crusade in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Billy Graham was to speak the next night and had arrived a day early. He came incognito and sat on the grass at the rear of the crowd. Because he was wearing a hat and dark glasses, no one recognized him.

“Directly in front of him sat an elderly gentleman who seemed to be listening intently to my presentation. When I invited people to come forward as an open sign of commitment, Billy decided to do a little personal evangelism. He tapped the man on the shoulder and asked, ‘Would you like to accept Christ? I’ll be glad to walk down with you if you want to.’ The old man looked him up and  down, thought it over for a moment, and then said, ‘Naw, I think I’ll just wait till the big gun comes tomorrow night.’

“Billy and I have had several good chuckles over that incident. Unfortunately, it underlines how, in the minds of many people, evangelism is the task of the ‘Big Guns,’ not the ‘little shots.’ Lieghton Ford, Good News is for Sharing, 1977, David C. Cook Publishing Company, page 67.