The following is a rewritten chapter from Bittersweet Refinements. If you would like to read the entire book, from start to finish and in the proper order, please go [here].
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
Yes, the fictional accounts produced by the entertainment industry of demonic possessions really do have some basis in fact, but it is an extremely rare occurrence—be assured [James 1:5-8]. For it is usually in a much more sinister way that a demon takes control over a person [2 Timothy 2:24-26].
What happened to Judas Iscariot serves as a good example of that. For it is written: Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. [Luke 22:1-6 NIV]
No, that is not something that you will hear coming from most pulpits [2 Timothy 4:2-4]. For Satan has been quite successful at convincing far too many that Judas Iscariot acted out of his own freewill, and even from those who might indicate otherwise, the spin will be almost always toward Judas causing this to happen to him by inviting Satan into his heart for one reason or another [2 Peter 1:20-2:3].
Yes, many of them would point to what was said about Judas by the One [John 10:30], who would know who would be spending all of eternity in Heaven or Hell [2 Timothy 4:1]. For Christ Jesus said that it would have been better for him to have never been born [Matthew 26:20-24], and this is something that would never be said of someone who was not being held accountable for such a sin [1 Timothy 1:12-14].
The absolute truth of the matter truly is, however, that it is on account of how Judas reacted to his betrayal of His Lord and Savior after he came to his senses, and not what he had been a party to [John 7:24], that is the reason for why that was said about him—be assured [Luke 8:17-18]. For unlike the Apostle Peter [John 21:15-17] after one of his own fiery trials [Mark 14:66-72], Judas refused to have full and complete faith in the grace of our Heavenly Father [Matthew 27:1-10].
Yes, there appears to be a discrepancy between the accounts of Judas’ death given in Matthew and Acts that should be addressed before proceeding any further. For in Matthew, it is written that he hanged himself [Matthew 27:5]. Whereas in Acts, it is written that he fell headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines spilled out [Acts 1:18].
Be assured that this came as a great mystery to me for many years, but then our Heavenly Father explained that there is actually no discrepancy at all [Jeremiah 33:3]. For Judas did indeed hang himself, and it was after being cut down that his lifeless body was dropped headlong, which resulted in his belly bursting wide open.
Alas, what happened to Judas was indeed a great tragedy, and what is still happening to far too many is just as great [Ezekiel 18:30-32]. For the devil has convinced them that they have the authority to cast out demons wherever they may be found [2 Corinthians 10:13-15].
No, this is not to deny that our Heavenly Father will sometimes cast out demons through one of His chosen servants [Acts 16:16-18] for the benefit of all concerned [John 11:11-15]. For it is written: He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." [Mark 16:15-18 NIV]
Such miracles are never independent of Him [John 15:5], however, and even in regards to those who do claim to be working with the full authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is by their very own words [Matthew 12:37] that they attest to just how deceived they are by making it sound like they are doing the casting out through His power while the absolute truth of the matter truly is that it is the Lord God Almighty who is casting out demons through them [Matthew 7:15-23]. For it is written: In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion. [Jude 1:8-11 NIV]
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