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DEMONIC CONFLICT AND CONVERSION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 26, 2013

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father” (Luke 9:42).


We should ask ourselves why this account is given in all three of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43). Certainly it is recorded by divine inspiration to show the powerlessness of the Disciples. Christ had earlier sent them forth to cast out demons (Matthew 10:8). But now they were unable to do so. Christ said the reason for their failure was unbelief (Matthew 17:20). That is the lesson we usually hear from this passage, a sermon focused on the unbelief of the Disciples. It is all true of course, yet there is more to it than that.

But what about the young man who was demonized? Is there no sermon to be preached about his experience? Of course there is! C. H. Spurgeon gave a good one, in which he said,

This child possessed with an evil spirit, is a most fitting emblem [picture] of every unconverted man… The coming of the child to Christ is a picture of saving faith, for faith is coming to Christ [and] the casting down and tearing which is mentioned in my text is a picture of the comer’s conflict with the enemy of souls. “As he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him.” Our subject…will be the well known fact; that coming sinners, when they approach the Saviour, are often thrown down by Satan and torn, so that they suffer exceedingly in their minds, and are well nigh ready to give up in despair (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Comer’s Conflict With Satan,” The New Park Street Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1981 reprint, volume II, p. 369).

That is the way we should apply this particular text:

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child…” (Luke 9:42).

The young man represents every unconverted person. The throwing down and tearing he experienced represent the demonic conflict that occurs in conversion. The coming of the young man to Jesus is a picture of saving faith.

I. First, the young man represents every unconverted person.

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him…” (Luke 9:42).

The vast majority of unconverted people are not demon possessed. Yet all of them are under the power of Satan. The Bible says that Satan

“…hath blinded the minds of them which believe not”
      (II Corinthians 4:4).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said of II Corinthians 4:4,

John noted that “the whole world lieth in wickedness [literally ‘the wicked one’]” (I John 5:19). When even brilliant intellectuals seem unable to understand [or] accept the easy-to-understand gospel of Christ…it is because their minds have been blinded to these wonderful truths. We must pray for God “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan to God,” Acts 26:18 (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 1280; note on II Corinthians 4:4).

Again, in Ephesians 2:2, the Bible says,

“Wherein in time past ye walked according…to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Dr. McGee commented on that verse in Ephesians 2:2,

[Satan] is potent today to delude and to deceive and to lead people astray (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 232, note on Ephesians 2:1-2).

Dr. John Gill said that the phrase “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” means that “over these [children of disobedience] Satan has great influence…whose minds and hearts he fills…and these may be said in their unregeneracy to walk after him” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, p. 70; note on Ephesians 2:2).

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him…” (Luke 9:42).

Satan uses a variety of methods to keep people from coming to Jesus. He may tell you that you don’t need to be converted. This was the main way he deceived the Pharisees during Christ’s earthly ministry. They “trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (Luke 18:9). That is a great deception, often used by Satan to keep people from coming to Jesus in our day as well. The thought may come to you, “I’m good enough. I come to church. I live a clean life. Why do I need anything else?” “They trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” When someone has that thought fixed firmly in his mind he cannot be helped. By convincing him that he is good enough already, Satan blinds his mind (II Corinthians 4:4) and keeps him as his captive prisoner (II Timothy 2:26).

One young woman said she thought “that salvation was to be earned, and being good is how you earn your salvation. I [strove] for excellence in everything I did…I was sure I was saved. I was obedient to my parents. I had a decent group of friends and went to [church] every Sunday…For weeks I listened to Dr. Hymers, but never, never really noticed that the sinner, that person who is too arrogant to admit her sins…was me. I struggled.” Ah, what a struggle! The struggle in that girl’s soul was whether or not to believe Satan’s lie that she was good enough without Jesus!

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him…” (Luke 9:42).

Another way Satan keeps people from coming to Jesus is by telling them they can decide to become a Christian later. One girl said, “I had no intention of becoming a Christian. I had too many other things to deal with. After all, life was calling…I deep down believed that I could decide when and where I would trust Christ.” “Life was calling.” Ah, what a devilish thought! “I had too many other things to deal with.” Ah, what a demonic deception! “I deep down…” Ah, yes, “deep down.” Not on the surface. Not what you say to others. Satan speaks “deep down” inside. “I deep down believed that I could decide when and where I would trust Christ.” That is a demonic lie! What about that young man in our text? Could he have come to Jesus “when and where” he wanted? He might never have come to Jesus if he did not do so at that moment, when Jesus called for him!

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him…” (Luke 9:42).

Yet another device of the Devil is to tell you that you can “learn” how to be converted. Another young woman said, “I was desperate and asked myself, ‘How do I come to Jesus?’ At that time, I didn’t realize there was no ‘how.’ Thinking that I [could] somehow come to Jesus myself, I read the little book, All of Grace, by C. H. Spurgeon… hoping that I would somehow be converted. I remember looking through the book for a way to come to Jesus…I thought that maybe the book would give me ‘steps’ of how to trust Jesus. However, the book did not help me. Before I went to sleep that night, I prayed to God, asking Him to help me come to Jesus.”

Oh, how instructive and enlightening is her testimony! “How do I come to Jesus?” “Thinking that I [could] somehow come to Jesus myself, I read the little book, All of Grace, by C. H. Spurgeon.” Total confusion filled her mind! It seems to me that the very title of the book, All of Grace, should have corrected the false notion that she could come to Jesus by herself! All of Grace, the very title should have corrected the demonic thought, “I must do it myself!” Then she said, “I remember looking through the book for a way to come to Jesus…I thought that maybe the book would give me ‘steps’ of how to trust Jesus.” Oh, “steps” indeed! “Steps” are what the modern “decisionists” give. Spurgeon did not give such “steps.” “However, the book did not help me.” No, it certainly did not help her to learn “steps,” for no such “steps” exist! But can we be sure that Spurgeon’s book did not help her? She said, “Before I went to sleep that night, I prayed to God, asking Him to help me come to Jesus.” I think Spurgeon did her more good than she realized! In that little book Spurgeon said,

Converts usually say that they did not know the Gospel till such and such a day; and yet they had heard it for years. The Gospel is unknown, not from [lack] of explanation, but from absence of personal revelation [i.e. illumination]. This the Holy Spirit is ready to give, and will give to those who ask Him (C. H. Spurgeon, All of Grace, Pilgrim Publications, 1978 reprint, page 77).

This saving truth the Devil does his best to hide from the lost, for he does not want them to come to Jesus and be saved.

Again, the Devil may bring a fear to your mind.  Are you afraid to come to Jesus?  If you are, you can be sure it is a fear that comes from Satan. 

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him…” (Luke 9:42).

II. Second, the coming of the young man to Jesus is a picture of saving faith.

Please stand and read the entire text, Luke 9:42.

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father” (Luke 9:42).

You may be seated.

You must not think that all of the conflict in conversion is Satanic. Much of the trouble unconverted sinners feel is from the Holy Spirit, whose first work is to “reprove the world of sin…Of sin, because they believe not on me [Jesus]” (John 16:8, 9).

How can we tell the difference between conviction by the Holy Spirit and the “tarings” of the Devil? Spurgeon gave a clear explanation of the difference:

Now I will give the poor sinner a means of detecting Satan, so he may know whether his convictions are from the Holy Spirit, or merely the bellowing of hell in his ears. In the first place, you may always be sure that that which comes from the devil will make you look at yourselves and not at Christ. The Holy Spirit’s work is to turn our eyes from ourselves to Jesus Christ, but the enemy’s work is the very opposite. Nine out of ten of the insinuations of the devil have to do with ourselves… “You do not repent enough” – that is self. “You have got such a wavering hold of Christ” – that is self. Thus the devil begins picking holes in us; whereas the Holy Spirit takes self entirely away, and tells us that we are “nothing at all,” but that “Jesus Christ is all in all.” Satan brings the carcase of self and pulls it about, and because it is corrupt, tells us most assuredly we cannot be saved. But remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee – it is Christ [Himself]. Therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ [Himself]; look not to thy hope, but to Christ [Himself], the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou dost that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down, but as long as thou lookest at thyself, the meanest [smallest] of those evil spirits may tread thee beneath his feet…Remember, Jesus Christ can save even you. Believe on his name, ye convinced sinners, believe on Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Comer’s Conflict With Satan,” The New Park Street Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1981 reprint, volume II, pp. 374-376).

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father” (Luke 9:42).

One of those girls I mentioned said in her testimony,

Finally that Sunday I felt sick, not physically, but so sick of my sins. I felt so ashamed and guilty…I went to the inquiry room that Sunday and I was so ashamed to even show my face to Dr. Cagan…I just felt so disgusted with myself…Then Dr. Cagan asked me, “Will you come to Christ?”…I threw myself to Jesus that day. I completely surrendered myself to Him…That day Jesus saved me. He accepted me no matter how much I rejected Him in the past. Jesus Christ embraced me wholly. That day Jesus washed my sins away.

May you also experience true conversion in Christ Jesus! He will deliver you from all Satanic deceptions and save your soul. May God grant you the faith to lay hold of Jesus and be saved!

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Luke 9:37-43.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Then Jesus Came” (words by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986;
music by Homer Rodeheaver, 1880-1955).

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THE OUTLINE OF

DEMONIC CONFLICT AND CONVERSION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father” (Luke 9:42).

(Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43;
Matthew 10:8; 17:20)

I.   First, the young man represents every unconverted person,
Luke 9:42a; II Corinthians 4:4; I John 5:19; Acts 26:18;
Ephesians 2:2; Luke 18:9; II Timothy 2:26.

II.  Second, the coming of the young man to Jesus is a picture of
saving faith, Luke 9:42b; John 16:8, 9.