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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Demon Piety" Luke 8.26-39


[The following is what I presented on 22 June 2016 at the Capitol Forum, at the Oklahoma State Capitol]

Demon Piety

Did you know that the devil is very pious or religious? And did you know that our best religious efforts are often duplicated by demons? Why should this matter? Because it ought to inspire in you and me to examine ourselves, our religiousness, our Christianity, and yearn to be authentic God-lovers!

Consider the “piety’” of the demoniac:
  • Demons have religious insight: “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” (v.28).
  • Demons have a form of religiousness: notice they pray to Christ for some form of mercy: “I beg you, do not torment me” (v.28)!
  • Demons were persistent in their prayers: “they begged him...” (v.28, 31, 32).
  • Demons praying in a humble, subservient posture: “he cried out and fell down before him” (v.28).
  • Demons pray with deep feeling: he cried out... and said with a loud voice” (v.28).
  • Demons use humble expressions in their prayer: “I beg you...” (v.28).
  • Demons use respectful and honorable language for Christ: “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” (v.28).
  • Demons are obedient (reluctantly) to Jesus - v. 32-33
  • Demons know they are at Christ’s mercy! The whole dialogue shows this.


So what is missing? What is it that sets this demonic piety apart from true Christian godliness? Some aspect of believing? No, these demons believed Christ more than many church members – look at how they address him!  Also, James says: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2:19)! So, what is missing here? Maybe the demons have the wrong doctrinal views?  Nope. If you look carefully, they are pretty much orthodox (knowing the truth about who God is and who Jesus is) – In fact, they’re even more reverent in their talk to Christ than many professing Christians.

So what’s missing? Love for Christ! They have no love for Jesus. They are terrified by him – and rightfully so; and maybe we should as well (think of John in Revelation 1). They know who Jesus is, and what he’s doing. They also believe that he can do it. There’s no doubting in them. But they have no warmth, no love, no passionate hunger and affection for Christ! Their religion is a religion of constraint and compulsion! Kevin Vanhoozer describes things this way, “The difference between a demon and a disciple, then, depends on God’s Word taking root in human hearts and bearing fruits in the work of love” (“Pictures at a Theological Exhibition,” 181). O dear children of God – how many are there who claim to be “Christians,” who are even very “religious” and yet do it all out of this constraint and compulsion because they have no love for Christ! As Paul says in 2 Timothy 3, there are many who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3.4c-5).

O my friends – draw near to Christ Jesus the Lord, and he will draw near to you (35, 38-39). Don’t be satisfied with a smidgeon, a scrap, or a snippet of Jesus. Don’t settle for a three-minute-Jesus. Instead, go for the whole Christ, and receive Christ wholly!


How does this happen? {1} First, we are to take our own sin seriously! We take our keeping-Jesus-at-a-distance heart earnestly. {2} Then we should cry out to God to give us a grieving heart – grieving with Godly grief – “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7.10). {3} Next we need to implore God for warm hearts, for a larger capacity to have Jesus, to experience him, to be near to him. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8)! Romans 5.1-2, 5! {4} Afterward we are to begin fixing our minds on him – we begin the day looking to the Lord Jesus Christ and looking to all that God has done for us in him. {5} And finally, begin to enjoy making much of Jesus, at every turn, in each concern or circumstance; “And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8.39).
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***Feel free to re-post, preach, pass around, or use in a devotion. Mike

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