Our text in Mark 5:1-20 is full of amazing things but none no more difficult to imagine than the picture of a single man being possessed by 2,000 demons. This group of spirits told Jesus their name was Legion. A Legion in the Roman Army would have been 6,000 troops. Clearly, these enemies of God had a knack for over-exaggeration…yet, 2,000 is still a bunch. How could one man become so filled with these things?
Read these two brief teachings from Jesus for an explanation:
Luke 11: 24 "When an evil* spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, 'I will return to the person I came from.'25 So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order.26 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.”
Matthew 12: 43 "When an evil* spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none.44 Then it says, 'I will return to the person I came from.' So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
You will not find an account in the Bible of a follower of Jesus being possessed. In each instance, it is someone who is apart from faith in Jesus. You find many accounts of demons and several that teach that a person had more than one demon in them. Even Mary Magdalene had seven at one point (Luke 8:1-3).
The key to the above references is this phrase ‘empty’ or ‘in order’. A man has a demon in him that controls him. The demon leaves and for a brief time he is empty inside but then more than one demon returns. You can see how this could compound over time.
The only defense against the demonic forces in this world is The Holy Spirit of God. A follower of Jesus gives control to The Holy Spirit therefore there is no control to be had by a demon (or a host of them). There is no room for our spiritual enemy when we are filled with The Holy Spirit.
We worry about losing control on either side. We don’t want our spiritual enemy to be able to reek havoc in our lives but neither do we want to ‘give away’ control to God’s Spirit. By choosing to maintain the control you think you have you are leaving yourself empty and open to a mess. This is one of the beauties of choosing Christ. You can know freedom. By filling up with God’s Spirit you can know peace.
This man’s insides were so crowded that he could barely act on his own needs and then it appears for only brief instances. He had no control. He had no hope. He had no peace. Then he met The Savior - and all that changed. Have you met Him?