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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


They Could Not

“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” (Mark 9:16-18, NIV)

When Jesus came down from the Mountain of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, He found a distressing scene in the valley. A huge argument had broken out between the nine disciples left behind and the teachers of the Law, with a large crowd looking on.

The crowd, on seeing Jesus, turned its attention away from the fracas to Him. Any normal cleric might have taken time to bask in the glow of adoration, but Jesus is no ordinary spiritual leader. He ignores the crowd and queries His disciples regarding the argument: “What’s this about?”

Before they can answer, or perhaps because they are hesitant to answer, a father does it for them. His statement about having a son possessed by a demon, at first glance, seems to have no bearing on what the argument was about.

Early on in Jesus’ ministry, His opponents accused Him of driving out demons by the power of the devil (Mark 3:22). Later, when Jesus sent out His disciples on their first mission, they also drove out many demons (6:13). This is the first time exorcism does not occur, and it gives the critics of Jesus powerful ammunition to argue that prior occasions were a demonstration of Jesus’ connection with the occult — that what He and the disciples did was through demonic agency. And since the devil has limited powers, exorcism can only be done sporadically and not at all times.

This story really tells us about a powerless church. When the mighty works of God are not being done, then all that’s left is argument. The church must have more than an argument if the world is to be won.

This account also contains a powerful paradigm of what the devil does to people. (1) He seizes them. They are no long able to control themselves — another power is in control of their lives. They think, say and do the wrong things. (2) He throws them to the ground. The devil does not come to build up, but to tear down. The ultimate end is down, even for those who consider themselves successful and believe they have no need of God.

The effect of the devil is seen on what happens to persons whose life he influences: (1) foaming at the mouth — embarrassment before God and man. (2) Gnashing of teeth — a foretaste of hell and a present act of despair. (3) Becoming rigid — rigor mortis is the spiritual condition of incapacity and inability to change. Jesus came to reverse all these effects of the devil.

A powerless church is no help to those dominated by the devil. When Jesus sent out the Twelve, He gave them authority over evil spirits and they indeed “drove out many demons” (6:7,13). Somewhere along the line their power had leaked out. Their bad example is a lesson for us.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I cannot be effective with yesterday’s anointing, yesterday’s blessings, yesterday’s spiritual reserves. I need present power if I am to overcome the deeds of the devil, if I am to live a life that is right before You, if I am to help others. May my supply of the Spirit be full today!

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years

2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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