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Unclean Spirits in the Church

Someone noted that Jesus, like any good fisherman, first catches His fish, then He cleans them. Mark 5:1-20 records Jesus catching and cleaning up a man's life. When Jesus came to the country of the Gadarenes, "immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit" (vs 2). Mark captures the destructive and demoralizing impact this "unclean spirit" had on the man with dramatic words: "no one could bind him, even with chains .... no one could tame him ... always, night and day, he was in the the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones" (vs 3, 4, 5). The story takes a powerful and positive turn in verse 6ff when Jesus casts the unclean spirit out of the man. By the time the incident ends in verse 20, the transformed man is now proclaiming to his friends "all that the Lord had done for him."

Jesus and the apostles repeatedly displayed power over demons, thus authenticating and validating the messengers and message of the New Testament. Demon possession apparently passed away when the "age of miracles" came to an end after the first century era. The New Testament opposes the idea that the devil today can take over a person against their will. That having been said, we have to ask, are there no "unclean spirits" in anyone today? As it turns out, "unclean spirits" are alive and well and routinely manifest themselves, doing great damage in the hearts and homes of many people. Don't believe me? Check out the apostle Paul's catalog of "the works of the flesh" in Galatians 5:19-21. The list includes some really nasty stuff: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness." The New International Version continues the list: ". . ..idolatry .... hatred, discord, jealousy, f its of rage, self ish ambition .... factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies." It matters not that the world has sanitized and legitimized and popularized many of these attitudes and behaviors. The Spirit of God warns  these are unclean spirits dirtying up the heads and hearts and homes and lives of human beings. When was the last time you saw or heard of a marriage/family damaged or destroyed by adultery? Unclean spirit at work. What spiritual force is at work when a home is characterized by frequent angry outbursts that lead to physical violence? Unclean spirit. What are we to make of a Christian who is characterized by hatred and an unforgiving attitude? Unclean spirit at work. How do you explain it when people who claim to be in Christ display little evidence that Christ is in them? Unclean spirit at work. There is only one agent powerful enough to cleanse the church of unclean spirits: the blood of Jesus Christ (I John 1:7). Is your spirit clean?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ