Day 8

Christ Overcomes Evil

from the The Miracles of Jesus reading plan


Luke 8:27-39, Matthew 9:32-34, Luke 11:14, Mark 7:24-30, Luke 4:31-37, Matthew 17:14-21

BY Guest Writer

Text: Luke 8:27-39, Matthew 9:32-34, Luke 11:14, Mark 7:24-30, Luke 4:31-37, Matthew 17:14-21

In the preface to his famous satirical novel, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes this of demons:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”

When venturing into the territory of demons and demonic possession, it’s tempting either to write them off as ancient misdiagnoses of mental illness, or to become overly fascinated with them, attributing more power to demons than they have. Either mistake is easy to make because many of us don’t have much experience with them.

And yet, the New Testament world seems to have been filled with demons. There was the demon-possessed man in Luke 8, whose demon went by the name of “Legion.” And there was the demon-possessed man in Luke 11, who was finally able to speak once Jesus cast the demon out of him. There was the Canaanite woman’s daughter filled with an unclean spirit (see Mark 7 and Matthew 15), whom Jesus was able to heal from afar. And there was the boy suffering from demonic seizures in Matthew 17, who was healed by Jesus after the disciples were unable to do so.

The list goes on from there, depicting a world quite different from the one we live in now.

Or was it?

The truth is, our world is no less spiritual today than it was 2,000 years ago. Some cultures are simply less accustomed to recognizing the darkness and the various forms it takes. But “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 4:16). The warfare is real and we’re called to engage it. The stories of Jesus’ power over darkness prepare us for this battle by showing us two truths.

First, Jesus has authority over the darkness. In addition to rescuing us from darkness and teaching us how to resist it, Jesus is the King of kings, and there is nothing on this planet or in this cosmos that escapes His royal jurisdiction. As theologian N.T. Wright put it, “[Jesus] isn’t just somebody with good ideas. He isn’t just somebody who will tell us how to establish a better relationship with God. He is somebody with authority over everything that the physical world on the one hand, and the non-physical world on the other, can throw at us. This is a Jesus we can trust with every aspect of our lives.”

Second, Jesus exercises His authority with His words. Since the beginning of creation, when God spoke the world into existence, His words have had enormous power. We witness this same power when Jesus banishes each demon with a simple command. New Testament scholar Leon Morris explains, “No magic formulae, no mumbo-jumbo. He just told the spirits to go, and they went. That was what astonished people. He didn’t have to summon up stronger powers than his own; he just used the authority he already possessed in himself.”

Jesus’ power is a comfort to those of us in Christ. We have access to the same power and the same authority (Luke 10:19; Matthew 16:19). In Jesus’ name, we can rebuke the powers of darkness. We should acknowledge these powers exist, but we need not fear them or become preoccupied with them. Instead, let us wield our words with the same intention and precision as Jesus: creating, inspiring, building up, and fending off the darkness.

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Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mom of two boys. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and recently completed her Ph.D, which focused on cultivating the gifts of women in the church.

Post Comments (78)

78 thoughts on "Christ Overcomes Evil"

  1. Joanna says:

    I’m so sorry Katie.

  2. Megan says:

    Today’s reading was hard for me. I have been going through a season of fear and doubt. When I have a fear my mind tends to dwell on it, and my worst fear is what today’s reading is about, about demons and I think ‘what if it could happen to me’. I worry that my lack of faith is disappointing to God. I feel like it’s all up to me to ward off evil forces and it is so stressful. I know I’m my heart God will protect me and that I will gain strength as I go through this season. God is definitely working on me and having me face my fears today. Prayers and encouragement are much appreciated. Much love!

    1. Joanna says:

      Megan, I know exactly how you feel! The fear can snowball and the thoughts that come with it can as well. Just remember who you belong to!! You are protected and safe in the loving arms of our Almighty God. Lay your fears at the foot of the cross and walk confidently that no weapon formed against you shall prosper! Praying for peace for you.

    2. Beth L says:

      Remember Megan, the people that were demon possessed were not saved. A saved person cannot be possessed. The moment we accept Christ as our savior the Hoky Spirit comes to dwell in us and never ever leaves us. We are His and Satan can no longer have us. A demon cannot dwell in a child of God, because the Holy Spirit is already there. Once we are a child of God we are no long a child of Satan. Nothing or no one can take that from us, John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39; 1 John 5:11-13.

    3. Mireille says:

      Hey Megan! Thanks for sharing! I just want to let you know that even though you may have doubts and fears God is NEVER disappointed in you! He loves you so deeply that he wants you to overcome whatever is enslaving your mind so you can live like a free child of God, what you were created to be. His love cannot be earned by how much we do or how much faith we have. All he wants is for you to trust him so he can free you :)

  3. Stacy says:

    “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 4:16) Our world is a different world from 2,000 and even from 20 years ago. Though there is such a huge difference in our worlds, this still stays true. Our “evil” and “demons” are constantly changing and taking new forces, and it is important we stand strong in what is the Truth. Reading the scripture and study tonight I kept picturing the older woman in War Room and her devotion to prayer as her first strategy in a battle of “war”. This to me is a continuation of what she is saying.

    1. jocelyne says:

      I am blessed and caught so many revelation from your post..

  4. Jen says:

    “The warfare is real and we are called to engage in it.”

    So – I’m a type A personality – go, go, go…do, do, do. And for years I was very much trying to actively “engage” in spiritual warfare. But over time – and much frustration – I came to meditate more fully on the Scripture that was used in the reflection:

    “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your STAND against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND YOUR GROUND, and after you have done everything, to STAND. STAND firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
    ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    http://bible.com/111/eph.6.10-18.niv

    The all-caps are my emphasis because that was what was so striking to me. Paul writes about STANDING in the battle. We’re dressed as warriors in a spiritual battle – but he doesn’t say advance or fight, he says stand multiple times. And this also helps me to understand where we are – where we have been positioned because of Christ’s finished work. Because of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice and His promise of the Holy Spirit living in us, we STAND in a position of authority. A position that has already won and just needs to “engage” by standing our ground and not allowing evil to have a foothold. That was a huge revelation for me as someone who is a doer, and it has given me a great perspective change in what our engagement in the spiritual warfare occurring around us should look like. Jesus is the perfect example of this in today’s readings – He stands. He speaks. He does not fight – He has authority. And that authority has been promised to us through the Holy Spirit.

    Sorry about the length – when I read the word “engage” in the reflection, I was stirred to write.

    1. Kristi says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your insight. I needed to read this.

    2. Emily B. says:

      I like how you differentiated between fighting and having authority. Thanks for sharing!

    3. caroline says:

      don’t apologize for the length! i loved this too. kinda reminds me of his charge to “be still” … and so coming from a fellow doer, i can relate! thank you for sharing.

    4. jocelyne says:

      beautifully said.. you have taught me new things from your post. I am blessed

    5. Christina says:

      Thank you for this!

    6. She Reads Truth says:

      So glad you shared, Jen! Grateful for your thoughts and words.

      – Stormye

    7. Liz S says:

      ❤❤❤

    8. Eriana says:

      This really spoke to me today! Thank you so much for sharing. I totally relate, and this perspective is very helpful.

  5. Sarah says:

    This reminds me of Bethel’s new song The War is Over
    <3

  6. Churchmouse says:

    Look how many different ways the demons manifested themselves in the people. One was driven into deserted places. Another was unable to speak. One was mute. The demons were not gender specific, as one was in a daughter and another in a son. And yet, the power of the Word of Jesus healed them all. If God is for us, who can be against us?!

    1. Kylee says:

      Amen amen amen!

  7. Diane Huntsman says:

    Demons are both scary and fascinating to me.. scary for the obvious fascinating because they deepen my faith.. the existence of evil and forces of darkness only deepen my belief of the forces of good found in God to smite out evil..
    I watched The Passion of Christ last weekend in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus smashes the serpent under His foot.. the foretelling of the annihilation of evil.. Satan and his legions of demons will be forever destroyed.. but until then, evil exists in many forms and demons still have the ability to wreak havoc and destroy lives.. I don’t think we should go out demon hunting, but I do think we can pray in power against them.. I’ll never forget locking eyes in a room with a man I believe was demon possessed.. he was a drug addict and he often spoke of God in very disrespectful ways.. he was a brother to my husbands boss and we were at a Christmas dinner.. as we locked eyes from across the room it was very clear that the Spirit in me and the spirit in him were having conversations.. I wasn’t scared but I was very aware of what was going on.. it was super cool to feel protected and unafraid of the evil present in him.. my only experience with demons in my 49 years of living..
    “No power of hell, no scheme of man
    Can ever pluck me from His hand
    Till He returns or calls me home
    Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand”
    Thank you SRT for these studies.. I love the Word of God and love how y’all present these studies!! Love and hugs to all!! xo

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Thank YOU, Diane! Grateful for you!

      – Stormye

      1. Diane Huntsman says:

        Xoxo you guys are doing such a good good work.. may He continue to strengthen, equip, and do His beautiful thing through this beautiful ministry!

  8. Tricia Bertrand says:

    I am stuck on the question, “How did Jesus free the Canaanite woman’s daughter.” Can anyone share their answer or reflection on this question.

    I have read the passage several times & the how eludes me.

    1. Tricia Bertrand says:

      Is it simply because the woman had faith?

      1. Alexis says:

        I believe it was. Look at his response to her: ” And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Ouch. I read it, and being who I am, I would stop asking right then and there.

        Despite this, she responds: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Wow. How brave of her! To continue asking and seeking healing despite his first response. That takes incredible faith and I think that’s why he healed her. daughter. Hope that helps some.

        1. Tricia Bertrand says:

          Yes, it helps! I was thinking along the same lines, but 2nd guessing myself. Thanks for sharing.

      2. Kylee says:

        Agreed – she met him in his metaphor and acknowledged her other-ness, yet still implored Him to give her even scraps – crumbs – of a miracle. Though she was not Jewish she knew that even scraps of a miracle from the One True God would heal her daughter. And since her faith was there, Jesus answered her request, proving that none of us are outside the scope of His LOVE and kindness and mercy, if only we’d have faith enough to believe. And we have communion with this most wonderful God! That’s how I interpreted it :)

        1. Brenda Martin says:

          I agree. First to the Jews then to the Gentiles. And it was her persistence in asking Jesus that healed her daughter. Sometimes we have to ask more than once. But Jesus is Jehovah Rapha, our God our healer! Thank you Lord!

        2. Jessica says:

          Great insight into this passage! This helped me understand it a lot better. Thank you!

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