The Authority Of Christ Over Unclean Spirits
4th Sunday of Epiphany
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
January 31, 2021
Readings: Deuteronomy 18: 15-20
1 Corinthians 8: 10-13
Mark 1: 21-28
All throughout scriptures, we have been given directions of God’s presence in us. Christ has said that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is not a man that he should lie. He fulfills every word He says. And what He said, He meant it.
In the gospel today we see Him teaching on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in Capernaum. He went to the synagogue, started teaching, spoke with authority and the people were amazed. A synagogue is a place where someone would teach and expound on the scriptures, while a temple mostly situated in Jerusalem is the place where sacrifices were made.
It goes on to say that there was a man who was going to the synagogue regularly but had an unclean spirit residing in him. When the unclean spirit heard Jesus speak, the spirit stirred within him because he was intimidated by the authority of Christ’s voice. Unclean spirits recognize the voice of God. They know if it is God speaking. Sadly, Many Christians today do not believe in the authority of God’s voice. They know about God, they know about Jesus, they know about the Holy Spirit. But this is just head knowledge or an affirmation of knowing about a certain subject. We need to not just know about Him but actually believe in His Word and act upon what we believe. The unclean spirits (plural), told Christ, “we know that you are from Nazareth. What have you to do with us? Are you coming to destroy us?” These unclean spirits needed a house or host to be able to carry out their will. So they used this man to do their evil plans. Spirits are not free to move around. They needed to be “in possession” of a human being.
This evil ploy is nothing new. We can go back to the Garden and find out that the enemy used a serpent to deceive man. The enemy knows the Word. He uses the truth but twists it. Today, the unclean spirits will speak to us if we allow them. We need to listen to the voice of God and not the enemy’s voice. The enemy will tell us, “you are a loser,” “you can’t make it,” “you are weak, you are a failure.” These are words contradictory to God’s Word. Scriptures tell us that we exist through Him. God gives us hope and victory and not defeat or failure. The gospel today is focused on the authority of Christ and not on the unclean spirits. It is important for us to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the enemy.
There is a phrase in the collect each week which says, “help us cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” He has provided everything for man’s benefit; the oil on the ground, the minerals and gold for man’s use, food for vegetation. But man has abused this benefit due to greed and has used it selfishly for his own when it is supposed to be used by all.
The difference between Christ’s way of teaching and the scribes’ way is that He spoke with authority. The type of authority that makes you want to stop and listen because you know He is teaching from His heart. The scribes may have been intelligent, knowing everything about Temple laws but may have been just teaching it mechanically. Christ teaches with authority because everything was from the Word of God. Therefore, it is most vital that we learn to listen only to His voice. “My sheep know my voice,” He says. (John 10:27)
In the midst of turmoil, there will be peace. There will be no unrest. In the midst of the pandemic, God is the only answer. God will supply. He will not deny us. If only we were living out our Christianity, we would be living in a stress-free world. We are the lights of the world and should be affecting the world. May we be effective witnesses of God’s authority and love. May we be constantly reminded that God is with us.