1765. An Astonishing Miracle

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No. 1765-30:85. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, February 10, 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the Scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “Leave us alone, what have we to do with you, you Jesus of Nazareth? Are you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Hold your peace, and come out of him.” And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? for with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region all around Galilee. {Mr 1:21-28}

1. You will find the same narrative in Lu 4:31-37. It will be handy for you to be able to refer to the second passage, from which I shall quote one or two matters.

2. These two evangelists begin the narrative by telling us about the exceptional authority and power which there was about the Saviour’s teaching — authority, so that no man dare question his doctrine; power, so that every man felt the force of the truth which he delivered. “They were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with power.” Why was it that the Saviour’s teaching had such a remarkable power about it? Was it not, first, because he preached the truth? There is no power in falsehood except so far as men choose to yield to it because it flatters them; but there is great force in truth, it makes its own way into the soul. As long as men have consciences they cannot help feeling when the truth is brought to bear upon them. Even though they grow angry their very resistance proves that they recognise the force of what is spoken. Moreover, the Saviour spoke the truth in a very natural, unaffected manner: the truth was in him, and it flowed freely from him. His manner was truthful as well as his matter. There is a way of speaking truth so as to make it sound like a lie. Perhaps there is no greater injury done to truth than when it is spoken in a doubtful manner, with none of the tone and emphasis of conviction. Our Saviour spoke as the oracles of God: he spoke truth as truth should be spoken, unaffectedly and naturally: as one who did not preach professionally, but out of the fulness of his heart. You all know how sermons from the heart go to the heart. Moreover, our great Exemplar delivered his teaching as one who most heartily believed what he was speaking, who spoke what he knew, yes, spoke of things which were his own. Jesus had no doubts, no hesitancy, no questions, and his style was as calmly forcible as his faith. Truth seemed to be reflected from his face just as it shone out from God in all its native purity and splendour. He could not speak otherwise than he did, for he spoke as he was, as he felt, and as he knew. Our Lord spoke as one whose life supported all that he taught. Those who knew him could not say, “He speaks truthfully but he acts otherwise.” There was about his whole conduct and deportment what made him the fit person to utter the truth, because the truth was incarnate, and embodied, and exemplified in his own person. Well might he speak with great assurance when he could say, “Who among you convicts me of sin?” He was himself as pure as the truth which he proclaimed. He was not a speaking machine, sounding out something with which it has no vital connection; but out of the midst of his own heart there flowed rivers of living waters. Truth overflowed at his lips from the deep well of his soul, it was in him and therefore came from him. What he poured out was his own life, by which he was endeavouring to plant in the lives of others. Consequently, for all these reasons, and many besides, Jesus spoke as one who had authority: his tone was commanding, his teaching was convincing.

3. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit who had descended upon him in his baptism, rested upon him, and bore witness by his divine operations in the consciences and hearts of men. If Jesus spoke of sin, the Spirit was there to convict the world of sin; if he demonstrated a glorious righteousness, the Holy Spirit was there to convince the world of righteousness and when he told men about the coming judgment, the Holy Spirit was present to make them know that a judgment would surely come at which each of them must appear. Because of his unlimited anointing by the Spirit, our Lord spoke with power and authority of the most astonishing kind, so that all who heard him were compelled to feel that no ordinary Rabbi stood before them.

4. That power and authority was seen all the more in contrast with the Scribes; for the Scribes spoke hesitatingly; they quoted authority; they asked permission to mention an opinion; they supported their ideas by the opinion of Rabbi this, although it was questioned by Rabbi that; they spent their time in tying and untying knots before the people, quibbling about matters which had no practical importance whatever. They were wonderfully clear on the tithing of mint and anise; they enlarged most copiously upon the washing of cups and basins, they were profound upon phylacteries and borders of garments. They were at home upon such rubbish, which would neither save a soul, nor slay a sin, nor suggest a virtue. While handling the Scriptures they were mere word-triflers, letter-men, whose chief object was to show their own wisdom. Such attempts at oratory and word-spinning were as far as the poles apart from the discourses of our Lord. Self-display never entered into the mind of Jesus. He himself was so absorbed in what he had to teach that his hearers did not exclaim, “What a preacher is this!” but, “What a word is this!” and “What new teaching is this!”: the word and the teaching with their admirable authority and amazing power subduing men’s minds and hearts by the energy of truth. Men acknowledged that the great teacher had taught them something worth knowing, and had so impressed it upon them that there was no shaking themselves free of it.

5. Now, when they were beginning to perceive this authority in his word, our Lord determined to prove to them that there was real power behind his teaching, that he had a right to use such authority, for he was Jesus Christ the Son of God, clothed with divine authority and power. It occurred to him to display before their eyes the fact that since there was power about his speech, there was also power about himself, that he was mighty in deed as well as in word; and hence he performed the miracle now before us. This most astounding deed of authority and power has been passed over by certain expositors as having too little of incident about it to be of much interest, whereas, to my mind, it rises in some respects above all other miracles, and is certainly excelled by none in its forcible demonstration of our Lord’s authority and power. It is the first miracle which Mark gives us, it is the first which Luke gives us; and it is in some respects the first of miracles, as I hope I may show before I am finished. Remember, however, that the object of the miracle is to reveal more fully the power and authority of our Lord’s word, and to let us see by accompanying signs that his teaching has an omnipotent force about it. This truth is much needed at the present moment; for if the gospel does not still save men, if it is not still “the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes,” then the attacks of scepticism are not easily repelled; but if it is still a thing of power over the minds of men, a power conquering sin and Satan, then they may say what they like, our only answer shall be to lament their doubts and to scorn their scorning. Oh for an hour of the Son of man! Oh where is he who trod the sea, and ordered the rage of hell to subside with a word?

6. I. First, then, to show this power and authority, OUR LORD SELECTS A MOST UNHAPPY PERSON ON WHOM TO PROVE HIS POWER.

7. This person was, first, one possessed. A demon resided within him. We cannot explain this fact any more than we can explain madness. Many things which happen in the world of mind are quite inexplicable, and for that matter so are many facts in the world of matter. We accept the recorded fact — an evil spirit entered into this man, and continued in him. Satan, you know, is God’s ape; he is always trying to imitate him, to caricature him; so, when God became incarnate, it occurred to Satan to become incarnate too; and this man I may call, without any misuse of words, an incarnate devil; or, at any rate, the devil was incarnated in him. He had become like a devil in human form, and so was in a certain manner the opposite of our Lord Jesus. In Jesus dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily by an eternal union; in this man the devil dwelt for a while. Is this not an awful picture? But note the fact, the man whom Jesus selects upon whom to prove his power and authority was so far gone that the foul fiend controlled his mind, and made a kennel of his body. I wondered, when thinking this over, whether a person of whom this man is the emblem would come into the congregation today; for I have seen such people. I have not dared personally to apply such an epithet to any man, but I have heard it applied: I have heard disgusted friends and indignant neighbours, worn out with the drunken profanity, or horrible filthiness, of some man say, “He does not seem to be a man; he acts like the evil one.” Or when it has been a woman, they have said, “All that is womanly is gone; she seems to be a female fiend.” Well, if such shall come within sound of my voice, or within reading of this sermon, let them take note that there is help, hope, and health even for them. The power of Jesus knows no limit. Upon one who was the Devil’s Own our gracious Lord displayed his authority and power in connection with his gospel-teaching; and he is no less able to do it now than then.

8. This man, further, was one whose personality was to a great extent merged in the Evil One. Read the twenty-third verse: “There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit”; the rendering might be equally accurate if we read it, “A man in an unclean spirit.” Do you see that? Not only a man with an unclean spirit in him, but a man in an unclean spirit. The phrase is simple enough, we speak of a man being in drink. For liquor to be in a man does not mean half so much as for a man to be in liquor. To give a more pleasant illustration, we speak of a person’s being “in love”; he is absorbed in his affection; we would not express a tenth as much if we said that love is in the man. A man can be in a rage, in a passion; and even so was this man in an evil spirit. He was completely ruled by the evil one. The poor creature had no power over himself whatever, and was not himself actually responsible; in all that I say concerning him I am not condemning him, but only using him as a type of human sin. Please do not forget this. As far as the narrative is concerned the man himself scarcely appears, it is the unclean spirit who cries out, “Leave us alone; I know who you are.” These are words spoken by the man, but they are the sentiments of the demon who used the man’s organs of speech according to his own will. The man was scarcely a man with a will or wish of his own; in fact, you do not notice him until you see him flung down into the midst of the synagogue; you only see the proper man when the Saviour raises him up before them all unharmed and rational. Until the miracle is performed the man is lost in the unclean spirit that dominates him. Have you never seen such men? You say sometimes, and you say truly, “Alas, poor wretch! The drink has the mastery over him; he would never do such things as he does if he was not in drink.” We do not mean to excuse him by such an expression, far from it. Or it may be the man is a gambler, and you say, “He is quite besotted by gaming; though he impoverishes his wife and children, yet he is possessed by that spirit so completely that he does not have the mind nor the will to resist the temptation.” Or it may be that such another person is carried away with unchaste affections, and we say, “How sad! There was something about that man which we used to like; in many points he was admirable, but he is so deluded by his bad passions that he does not seem to be himself.” We almost forget the man, and think mainly of the dreadful spirit which has degraded him below the beasts. The type and emblem of such a person as that our Lord selected as the platform upon which to show his power. I wonder whether this voice of mine will reach one of that kind. I sincerely hope that none of you are in such a condition, but if you should be, still there is hope for you in Christ Jesus: he is able to deliver such as are led captive at the will of Satan. Though you seem completely given up and utterly abandoned to the dominion of a terrible sin, to which you yield a willing obedience, yet Jesus can break off the iron yoke from your neck and bring you into the liberty of holiness. It will be an awful thing for you to die in your sins, and you surely will unless you believe in the Lord Jesus; but if you look to him, he can make you pure and holy, and create you anew.

9. 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 Lu 4:33, and you will see that in this man there was “the spirit of an unclean demon.” Think of that. A demon is never particularly clean at any time, what must an unclean demon be? The ruling spirit in the man was not only a demon, but an unclean demon. Satan sometimes cleans himself up, and comes out quite bright and shining, like an angel of light; but do not be fooled by 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, 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 do not doubt 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. If we were to say of such a character as this man illustrates, “Let us turn out of the way,” who could blame us? If we separated from such sinners, who could censure us? We do not desire to go near to Satan in any shape or form, but most of all we would shun him when he is openly and obviously unclean. You say, “We could not bear to hear the man speak; the very look of him is offensive”; nor is it strange that you should. There are women so fallen that modesty trembles to be seen in their company; and the feeling that makes you shudder at them is not to be condemned, as long as it does not spring from self-righteousness or lead to contempt. Yet, now, see it and wonder, our blessed Lord and Master fixed his eye of old on the man with the unclean demon in him, and today he fixes his eye of mercy on the basest and vilest of mankind, that in their conversion he may show the power and authority of his word. Lord, do so at this moment. 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!

10. In this man there did not seem to be anything for the Lord to begin with. When you are trying to bring a man to the Saviour you look him over to see where you can touch him, what there is in him that you can work on. Perhaps he is a good husband though he is a drunkard, and you wisely attempt to work on 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 them over from top to bottom, and you cannot find a place for hope to rest on. 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 emblem, for when the Lord comes into the synagogue the poor wretch does not begin to pray, “Lord, heal me.” No, his first cry is, “Leave 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? Are you come to destroy us? I know who you are.” The possessed man seems completely lost in the dominating spirit of evil who permeates 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 for his family, or generous heartedness, you know where to begin operations, and your work is hopeful. Even leviathan has some crevice between his scales though they are fastened 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 mere ledge for love. Just 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 Upraiser of the fallen can rescue even these; he is able to save to the uttermost.

11. 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 irreligious sinners who know nothing about 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 exceptional, 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 upon 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 thraldom! They sang in the synagogue, but they could not sing the evil spirit out of him; they read the 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 demon out of him. Nothing can cast out Satan except the word of Jesus himself. His own word, from his own lip, has power and authority about it, but everything short of that falls to the ground. Oh Divine Redeemer, let your omnipotence be displayed in turning great sinners into sincere penitents!

12. You see, then, what a terrible case the Master selected. I have not exaggerated, I am sure. Oh the comfort which lies in the thought that he still chooses to save people, of whom this wretched being is the fit emblem and representative! Oh you vilest of the vile, here is hope for you!

13. II. Let us now look a little further and observe that OUR LORD ENCOUNTERS A FIRMLY ENTRENCHED ENEMY.

14. 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 possessed people, and as long as their behaviour 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 the most violent of opposers to his service.

15. The evil one compelled his victim to beg to be left alone: as we have it here, “Leave us alone.” In the 1881 English 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 everyone, and these words were heard: “Ah! What have we to do with you?” It was not the voice of supplication; it was distinctly the opposite; it was a prayer not for mercy, but against mercy. The translation is however quite good if we read, “Leave us alone.” Is it not 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! Leave 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 like this: 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 troubled with thoughts of death, and judgment, and eternity; we do not desire to hear about repentance and faith in a Saviour, all we want from religious people is that they will leave 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, “Leave us alone”; yet it was the evil spirit in this man whom 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?

16. The foul spirit made the man renounce all interest in Christ; he coupled him with himself, and made him say, “What are we to do with you, you Jesus of Nazareth?” This was a disclaimer of all connection with the Saviour. He almost resented the Saviour’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 leave 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 most of you would say, “That is a hopeless case; we had better go elsewhere.” Yet even when Satan has led a man to this length the Lord can drive him out. He is mighty to save. He can change even the hardest heart.

17. The unclean spirit did more than that: he caused this man to dread the Saviour, and made him cry out, “Ah! Are you come to destroy us?” Many people are afraid of the gospel; to them religion wears a gloomy aspect; they do not care to hear about it for fear it would make them melancholy and rob them of their pleasures. “Oh,” they say, “religion would get me into the Bedlam Asylum; it would drive me mad.” So Satan by his detestable falsehoods makes men dread their best friend, and tremble at what would make them happy for ever.

18. 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 button-hole them, and speak about the Saviour, and they reply, “It is very kind of you to talk to me so earnestly; I always admire this kind of thing. Zeal is much to be commended in these days.” This is one of the strongest of earthworks, for the cannon balls sink into it, and their force is gone. This makes Satan secure in his hold on the heart. Yet the Saviour dislodged this demon, and by it displayed his power and authority.

19. Have I not proved my point? Jesus selected a most unhappy individual to become an example 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.

20. III. We have something more pleasant to think about as we notice that OUR LORD CONQUERED IN A MOST EXCEPTIONAL MANNER.

21. The conquest began as soon as the Saviour entered the synagogue, and so was under the same roof with the demon. Then the evil one began to fear. That first cry of “Ah,” or “Leave 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 ever any one of you shall go into a house with the desire to bring the occupants to Christ it will be communicated to the bottomless pit immediately. Insignificant person as you may think yourself to be, 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 beginning in this “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” The first sign of our Lord’s triumph was the evident alarm which caused the evil spirit to cry out.

22. The next sign was that the demon began to offer terms to Christ, for I take it that is the reason why he said, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” He did not confront our Lord with the hostile doubt, “If you are the Son of God”; but with the complaisant compliment, “I know who you are.” “Yes,” the false spirit said, “I will allow this man to say his creed, and affirm himself to be one of the orthodox, and then perhaps I shall be left alone. The man is sound in his views, and so my living in him cannot be a bad thing after all. I am quite willing to acknowledge all the claims of Jesus, as long as he will not interfere with my rule over the man.” The evil one had read his Bible, and knew how Daniel had called Jesus “the Most Holy,” and so he calls him “The Holy One of God.” “I am quite willing to admit it all,” says the demon, “only let me stay in the man; do not meddle with me, and this man’s lips shall confess the truth.” And so, when Jesus comes in his power, and men hear his word, this deceitful compromise is often proposed and attempted. The sinner says, “I believe it all. I deny nothing. I am no infidel; but I plan to keep my sin; and I do not intend to feel the power of the gospel in order to repent and have my sin chased out of me. I will agree to the gospel, but I will not allow it to control my life.” However, this coming to terms shows that the fallen spirit knows his Destroyer. He could gladly be let down easily. He is willing to crouch, to cringe, to fawn, and even to bear testimony to the truth, if he may only be allowed to stay in his den — that den a human soul. Liar as he is, it must go sadly against the grain for him to say, “I know who you are”; yet he will even do this if he may be allowed to keep dominion. So when Jesus draws near to men’s minds, they say, “We will be orthodox, we will believe the Bible, and we will do anything else you prescribe, only do not disturb our consciences, interfere with our habits, or dislodge our selfishness.” Men will accept anything rather than renounce their sin, their pride, and their ease.

23. Then our Lord’s real work came on this man. He gave the evil spirit short and sharp orders. “Silence! Come out!” “Jesus rebuked him.” The word implies that he spoke sharply to him. How else could he speak to one who was maliciously tormenting a man who had done him no harm? The Greek word might be read, “Be muzzled.” It is a harsh word; such as an unclean tormenting spirit deserves. “Silence! Come out.” That is exactly what Jesus intends that the devil shall do when he delivers men from him. He says to him, “Come out of the man; I do not want pious talk and orthodox professing; hold your peace and come out of him.” It is not for evil spirits, nor even for ungodly men, to try to honour Christ by their words. Traitors, bring no honour to those they praise. Liars cannot witness to the truth; or if they do they damage its cause. “Be still,” says Jesus; and then, “Come out.” He speaks as a man might call a dog out of a kennel, “Come out.” “Oh,” says the unclean spirit, “let me stay, and the man shall go to church; he shall even go to the sacrament.” “No,” says the Lord, “Come out of him. You have no right within him; he is mine, and not yours. Come out of him!” I pray that the Master may give one of his mighty calls at this moment, speak to some poor besotted creature, and say to the demon in him, “Come out of him!” Oh sinners, sin must leave you or it will ruin you for ever; are you not eager to be rid of it?

24. Now see the conquest of Christ over the unclean spirit. The fiend did not dare to utter another word, though he went as near it as he could. He “cried with a loud voice.” He made an inarticulate howling as he left the man. As he came out he tried to do his victim some further injury, but in that also he failed. He tore at him, and threw him down in the midst of the synagogue, but Luke adds, “He came out of him, having done him no harm.” From the moment when Jesus told him “come out,” his power to harm was gone; he came out like a whipped cur. See how Jesus triumphs. As he did this literally in the man in the synagogue, so he does it spiritually in thousands of cases. The last act of the fiend was malicious, but fruitless. I have seen a poor creature rolled in the dust of despair by the departing enemy, but he has soon risen to joy and peace. Have you not seen him in the enquiry room, weeping in the dismay of his spirit? But that has caused him no real harm, it has even been a benefit to him, by causing him to feel a deeper sense of sin, and by driving him quite out of himself to the Saviour. Oh, what a splendid triumph this is for our Lord when out of a great sinner the reigning power of sin is expelled by a word! How our Master tramples on the lion and the adder! How he treads under his feet the young lion and the dragon! If the Lord will speak with power today to any soul, however vicious, or depraved, or besotted, his reigning sins shall come out of him, and the poor sinner shall become a trophy of his sovereign grace.


26. The people who saw this were more astonished than they generally were at the Saviour’s miracles, for they said, “What thing is this? What new teaching is this? for with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” The wonder lay in this: here was man at his very lowest; he could not be worse. I have shown you the impossibility of anyone being worse than this poor creature was. I do not mean that he was evil morally, for, as I have hinted before, the moral element does not actually enter into the man’s case; but he is the instructive picture of the worst man morally; utterly and entirely possessed by Satan, and carried away to an extreme degree by the force of evil. Now, under the preaching of the gospel the worst man who lives may be saved. While he is listening to the gospel a power goes with it which can touch the hardest heart, subdue the proudest will, change the most perverted affections, and bring the most unwilling spirit to the feet of Jesus. I speak now what I know, because I have seen it in scores and hundreds of cases, that the least likely people, about whom there seemed to be nothing whatever helpful to the work of grace or preparatory for it, have nevertheless been turned from the power of Satan to God. Such have been struck down by the preaching of the gospel, and the devil has been made to come out of them, then and there, and they have become new creatures in Christ Jesus. This creates a great wonderment, and causes great staggering among the ungodly: they cannot understand it; but they ask, “What thing is this? and what new doctrine is this?” This is a convincing sign which makes the most obdurate unbeliever question his unbelief.

27. Notice, in this case, that Jesus worked entirely and altogether alone. In most of his other miracles he required faith. In order for salvation there must be faith, but this miracle before us is not a parable of man’s experience so much as of Christ’s working, and that working is not dependent on anything in man. When a man is commanded to stretch out his withered hand, or told to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash, he does something; but in this case the man is ignored. If he does anything it is rather to resist than to assist; the devil makes him cry, “Leave us alone; what have we to do with you?” The Lord Jesus Christ here displays his sovereignty, his power, and his authority, utterly ignoring the man, consulting neither his will nor his faith, but sovereignly ordering the fiend, “Be silent and come out.” The thing is done, and the man is delivered from his thraldom even before he has had time to seek or pray.

28. The miracle seems to me to teach just this, that the power of Christ to save from sin does not lie in the person saved, it lies entirely in Jesus himself; and, further, I learn that though the person to be saved is so far gone that you could scarcely expect faith in him, yet the gospel coming to him can bring faith with itself, and do its own work, ab initio, from the very beginning. What if I say that the gospel is a seed that makes its own soil! It is a spark that carries its own fuel with it; a life which can implant itself within the ribs of death, indeed, between the jaws of destruction. The Eternal Spirit comes with his own light and life and creates men in Christ Jesus to the praise of the glory of his grace. Oh, the marvel of this miracle! I was never led more greatly to admire the splendour of the power of Christ to rescue men from sin than at this hour.

29. And, to conclude, I notice our Lord did nothing but speak. In other cases he laid his hand upon the diseased, or led them out of the city, or touched them, or applied clay, or used spittle, but in this case he does not use any instrumentality; his word is all. He says, “Hold your peace, and come out of him”; and the unclean spirit is evicted. The word of the Lord has shaken the kingdom of darkness, and released the bonds of the oppressed. Just as when the Lord scattered the primeval darkness by the fiat, “Light be,” so Jesus gave the word, and its own intrinsic power banished the messenger of darkness.

30. Oh, you who preach Christ, preach him boldly! No cowardly lips must proclaim his invincible gospel! Oh, you who preach Christ, never choose your place of labour; never turn your back on the worst of mankind! If the Lord should send you to the borders of perdition, go there and preach him with full assurance that it shall not be in vain. Oh, you who wish to win souls, have no preference concerning who they shall be; or, if you have a choice, select the very worst! Remember, my Master’s gospel is not merely for the moralist, in his respectable dwelling, but for the abandoned and fallen in the filthy dens of the outcast. The all-conquering light of the Sun of Righteousness is not for the dim dawn only, to brighten it into the full blaze of day, but it is meant for the blackest midnight that ever made a soul to shiver as in the shadow of death. The name of Jesus is high over all, in heaven, and earth, and sky, therefore let us preach it with authority and confidence; not as though it were an invention of men. He has said he will be with us, and therefore nothing is impossible. The Word of the Lord Jesus cannot fall to the ground, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. The Lord shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly.

31. I have gone to great lengths in this sermon because I would reach sinners who have gone to great lengths. Oh that they would accept this message of amazing mercy! He who has come to save sinners is God, and this is the best basis for hope for the very worst. Hear this I urge you; it is the Lord your God who speaks to you, “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no one else.”

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mr 1:1-28]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — Our Victorious Lord” 679}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — More Than Conqueror” 680}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, In Heaven — The Power Of The Risen Lord” 331}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Redeeming Love” 440}

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Spurgeon’s Illustrated Almanac for 1884, containing Articles by the Editor and other Writers, Texts of Scripture selected for Meditation for every Day in the Year, Metropolitan Tabernacle Directory, &c.

John Ploughman’s Sheet Almanac for 1884. Suitable for Cottages, Homes, Workshops, Mission Halls, &c.

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The Christian, Courage and Confidence
679 — Our Victorious Lord
1 Jesus’ tremendous name
      Puts all our foes to flight:
   Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb,
      A Lion is in fight.
2 By all hell’s host withstood;
      We all hell’s o’erthrow;
   And conquering them, through Jesus’ blood
      We still to conquer go.
3 Our Captain leads us on;
      He beckons from the skies,
   And reaches out a starry crown,
      And bids us take the prize:
4 “Be faithful unto death;
      Partake my victory;
   And thou shalt wear this glorious wreath,
      And thou shalt reign with me.”
                        Charles Wesley, 1749.

The Christian, Courage and Confidence
680 — More Than Conqueror
1 His be the “victor’s name,”
      Who fought our fight alone;
   Triumphant saints no honour claim;
      His conquest was his own.
2 He hell in hell laid low;
      Made sin, he sin o’erthrew:
   Bow’d to the grave, destroy’d it so,
      And death, by dying, slew.
3 What though the accuser roar
      Of ills that we have done;
   We know them well, and thousands more,
      Jehovah findeth none.
4 Sin, Satan, Death appear
      To harass and appal;
   Yet since the gracious Lord is near,
      Backward they go, and fall.
5 We meet them face to face,
      Through Jesus’ conquest blest;
   March in the triumph of his grace,
      Right onward to our rest.
6 Bless, bless the Conqueror slain;
      Slain in his victory!
   Who lived, who died, who lives again,
      For thee, his church, for thee!
                     Samuel W. Gandy, 1837.

Jesus Christ, In Heaven
331 — The Power Of The Risen Lord
1 Jesus, the name high over all,
   In hell, or earth, or sky,
   Angels and men before it fall,
   And devils fear and fly.
2 Jesus, the name to sinners dear,
   The name to sinners given,
   It scatters all their guilty fear,
   And turns their hell to heaven.
3 Jesus the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
   And bruises Satan’s head;
   Power into strengthless souls it speaks,
   And life into the dead.
4 His only righteousness I show,
   His saving truth proclaim;
   ‘Tis all my business here below
   To cry, “Behold the Lamb!”
5 Happy, if with my latest breath
   I may but gasp his name;
   Preach him to all, and cry in death,
   “Behold, behold the Lamb!”
                     Charles Wesley, 1749.

Jesus Christ, His Praise
440 — Redeeming Love <7s.>
1 Now begin the heavenly theme,
   Sing aloud in Jesus’ name!
   Ye, who his salvation prove,
   Triumph in redeeming love.
2 Ye, who see the Father’s grace
   Beaming in the Saviour’s face,
   As to Canaan on ye move,
   Praise and bless redeeming love.
3 Mourning souls, dry up your tears,
   Banish all your guilty fears;
   See your guilt and curse remove,
   Cancell’d by redeeming love.
4 Ye, alas! who long have been
   Willing slaves to death and sin,
   Now from bliss no longer rove;
   Stop and taste redeeming love.
5 Welcome all by sin oppress’d,
   Welcome to his sacred rest,
   Nothing brought him from above,
   Nothing but redeeming love.
6 When his Spirit leads us home,
   When we to his glory come,
   We shall all the fulness prove
   Of our Lord’s redeeming love.
7 He subdued the infernal powers,
   His tremendous foes and ours,
   From their cursed empire drove,
   Mighty in redeeming love.
8 Hither then your music bring,
   Strike aloud each cheerful string:
   Mortals, join the host above,
   Join to praise redeeming love.
                  Madan’s Collection, 1763.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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