Podcast Transcript.  To listen to the audio version click HERE

He can still remember the first time he did it. The rush of adrenaline – anxiety mixed with anticipation – after everything he had been told, all the warnings, the testimonies of people who had done what he was about to do and regretted it – he was about to find out for himself.

Doing it was like no other experience – suddenly he felt alive – felt in control – felt like everything he had been told about this growing up was lie.  This was the truth – this was real.  He could feel it.

As time went on he kept going back – looking to experience once again the euphoria – the freedom – the love – the power – but it wasn’t long before what had once felt dangerous was now feeling normal.  

So he pushed a little harder – went a little farther – dug a little deeper – looking – searching – longing for that moment when he would feel whole again.  But that moment never came.

In the pursuit of what he could never seemed to grasp – he began pushing the people who loved him the most away.  lying to them, manipulating them, hurting them.

In his mind, They would never understand him and now they were just getting in the way.

There were interventions, counseling sessions, yelling matches and tearful breakdowns but nothing – not even the consequence of losing everything that was dear to him could stop him from going back again and again until there was nothing left and he was all alone.

He was a hopeless case.  A lost cause living out of control.  He was a demoniac.

That is… until Jesus shows up.

In the gospel of Luke we read:

“And when {Jesus} stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.”

Raging at Jesus while simultaneously desiring to be set free by Him.

This man represents me. Truth be told – this man represents us all. 

Lost and addicted to sin.  

The good news is there is nothing strange about our condition.  We were all born that way.  The psalmist says – 

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalms 51:5 ESV)

In other words we were born with natures out of harmony with God and his law. 

Even when we accept that God’s law is right, good, and holy – an acknowledgement of the law does not help us actually keep it.

Nature is stronger than nurture.

This has always been the case.

Even when God spoke his law accompanied by thunder and lightning from the top of Mt Sinai – what was the result?

In Exodus 20 we read:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.””

(Exodus 20:2–17 ESV)

Surely this revelation was enough to bring Israel into harmony with God and his Law?

Everyone was there.  Everyone heard it with their own ears – saw it with their own eyes.  There were no alibis or excused absences.

Unfortunately the history of Israel proves otherwise.

The law cannot not change our nature.  And nature always wins.

So what is the purpose of the law?

If it is not to nurture our nature than what good is it?

Rather than nurture our nature the law points out our need of a new nature altogether!

the book of Romans points out the problem when we try to nurture our nature with the law or any other self-imposed regulation:

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

(Romans 7:18–24 ESV)

The result is not good.  We end up doing the things we don’t want to do and not doing the things we do want to do over and over again until we throw our hands up in complete exasperation!

This struggle of trying to nurture our nature is essential to coming to the required recognition of our true condition and our inability free ourselves from it.

We can try to chain ourselves down – but we always break free and go back to the madness of our sin.

Raging against God while simultaneously desiring to be set free eventually leads us to ask the logical question.

Who will deliver me?

That is the purpose of the law!

To bring us to the point where we are willing to fall down at the feet of Jesus and cry out – Lord save me!

Yet despite our hopelessness – Jesus sees in each of us something we could never see in ourselves – a child of God.

Jesus never looks at us as we are, but rather as we can become through his amazing grace!

So let’s go back to the story in Luke.

“Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”   And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.   Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.   When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.”

Notice now, the man who just minutes before was a demon possessed naked wild raging beast, was now a new person.

The demons were gone and the Holy Spirit had come.  

The power of sin was broken

His nature had changed

It was only after his nature had been changed that he could now be nurtured

– Instead of raging against humanity, He was sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from him.

– Instead of being naked and ashamed,  he was now clothed and in his right mind

How was this possible?  How was it possible that Jesus could transform a raging man who was naked, bleeding & scared, separated from God, tormented by devils, and dwelling near death.

Because Jesus took his place.  The condition of the demoniac was the condition of Jesus on the cross where he exchanged his perfect nature with the sinful nature of all humanity.

Jesus experienced the shame and nakedness of the demoniac so that His rich robes might clothe us.

– Like the demoniac, Jesus was humiliated and tormented by the demons controlling the actions and words of the Jews and the Roman soldiers. 

– Just like the demoniac was cut off from God, on the cross because he Jesus too was separated from God.  (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?)

– Just like the demoniac was cut and scarred, Jesus’ hands, feet, and side were pierced and the scars remain to this day. 

– Just like the demoniac was a slave to sin – Jesus became sin on the cross. 

– Just as the demoniac dwelt in the tombs, Jesus actually died and was buried in a tomb.

But the story doesn’t end there

– You see just as the demoniac became a new creation after the demons were cast out – The demons could not hold Jesus in the grave and on the 3rd day he rose from the dead as a new creation –  forever a conqueror of sin and death.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

Are you tired?

Tired of feeling out of control – tired of feeling like a failure  – tired of the discontent and lack of power in your life?

Revelation is not enough.

Truth is not enough

We cant fix ourselves.

We cannot modify or improve our nature.

Nature is stronger than nurture

That is why to be ready for Jesus we need to first be changed by him.

Jesus said,

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

(John 3:5–7 ESV)

Jesus can’t do anything with our old nature until by faith we exchange it for a new one.

The law isn’t the problem

But it isn’t the solution either.

Only Jesus can change the heart.

Will you fall at his feet today and let him change you?