Shortly after the event with the Gentile girl there was a situation with a Jewish boy that is also recorded (Matthew 17:14-19; Luke 9:37-45; Mark 9:14-29). A young boy was demonized to the extent he would have a seizure, foam at the mouth, gnash his teeth and then become rigid. This has been happening since childhood. The demons also caused him to try to kill himself buy throwing himself into fire or water. Evidently the boy was deaf and mute as well – all work of the demons influencing him. We saw previously how demons bring death and destruction, and this is another example of that (see Mark 5:5; I Kings 18:28). Jesus was disappointed that the Jews didn’t have enough faith in God to have victory over these demons. Even his own disciples were unable to drive them out. Jesus said it would have been possible for them to have driven the demons out if they believed. Jesus commanded the demons to leave and never return and they obeyed! They had no choice but to obey Him. When the disciples asked why they weren’t able to drive the demons out Jesus said “this kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29).
LESSON FOR TODAY: It takes faith in God, that He is greater and able to deliver, to have successful prayer for deliverance. Satan and his demons use fear as a big weapon to undermine our faith. If we don’t firmly believe that God is greater than they and totally able to defeat them we will never see victory through our prayers. Only prayer brings deliverance, no other rituals, public ceremonies, emotional activities or anything else – only prayer in faith. That is because prayer taps into God’s power and that is what brings victory. It’s not the prayer that does it, but the God to Whom we pray!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Learn from your failures, for you will have them. The disciples had been living and traveling with Jesus all day every day for over a year and had been trained by Him to do this. They had great success in spiritual warfare in the past (Luke 10:1, 17-18) but not now. Jesus uses this to teach them. Don’t fear failure – try your best and learn from any mistakes you may make. Trying and failing is not nearly as bad as not trying at all.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Jesus explained their failure to use their authority and power to command the demons to be gone by saying “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29). “This kind” clearly implies there are various kinds of demonic strongholds and some are easier to break than others. The demons who controlled this boy, causing him to be mute and deaf, have seizures and try to kill himself, were strongly entrenched and took ‘prayer’ to remove them. Jesus didn’t elaborate, but evidently the disciples understood. Perhaps they were trying to have victory in their own strength instead of God’s strength, trying to command the demons on their own instead of through God’s power and authority.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Epilepsy, in fact any kind of seizures, cannot always be proven to be demonic, but that possibility should always be considered when praying for them. When Jesus confronted someone having seizures He always cast out demons and they were healed (Matthew 4:24; 17:15; Luke 9:38; 22:54; Mark 9:18). As we see in this account, demons who work in this way usually have a strong foothold and aren’t easily removed, but with God’s power and authority we can defeat them in Jesus’ name.
LESSON FOR TODAY: What about when deliverance is slow or not at all? Remember sometimes God has a greater purpose than casting out every demon as soon as we pray. Sometimes there is delay. Even Jesus had times when He had to persevere for awhile (Luke 8:31 Greek). Usually deliverance is a process. It’s like peeling the layers off an onion. As new sin is revealed and removed, more ground is taken back from Satan’s forces. This gradual process allows the person to better fill the ground which has been reclaimed with God’s Holy Spirit and gives him time to grow spiritually (Psalm 59:11; 119:50,67,71) before the next ‘layer’ is removed.
That’s why the Jews under Joshua only conquered the Promised Land bit by bit instead of all at once. If they would have driven out all the Canaanites immediately then lions and other wild animals would have increased and done harm to the people. In addition, there is a learning process involved that can be used to help others (II Corinthians 1:3-4).
Other times complete deliverance never comes. Paul’s thorn in the flesh is an example (II Corinthians 12:7). Paul testifies God then provides the grace needed to withstand. God wants us to learn to depend on Him (Psalm 119:59,92). Of course if the opening is allowed to continue then the demonizing will continue, too (Psalm 94:12-16; 81:11-14).
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)