Are You Casting Out Devils? Why Not?
"If you have the smallest or feeblest faith that is genuine, you can do all things." - Barnes' Notes
"If you have increasing, expanding, enlarged faith, growing and strengthening from small beginnings, you can perform the most difficult undertaking." - Barnes' Notes
"An active faith can remove mountains, not of itself, but in the virtue of a divine power engaged by a divine promise, both which faith fastens upon." - Matthew Henry
Matthew 17:20 says - "...if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
These words of Jesus were prefaced by a question asked by the nine disciples who were left in the valley when He went up to the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John - "...Why could not we cast him out?"(Matthew 17:19) In other words, why could we not cast the demon out of the epileptic boy?
Doesn't Matthew 10:1 tell us that when Jesus called His twelve disciples into the ministry, He gave them authority over all devils - "And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease"?
Then in Matthew 10:8, we read how He commanded them, saying - " Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." These signs were to demonstrate to the heathen that the disciples surely had the Lord's ordination.
However, we read of a very disturbing report in Matthew 17:14-16 which says - "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to Him a certain man, kneeling down to Him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son; for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him." This only son was a "lunatic." He was afflicted with a distemper that lie in his brain and was aggravated by the changes of the moon. It was caused or occasioned by a demon spirit which showed its malice toward him by making him fall into "the fire" or "the water."
In His commission to the disciples, didn't Jesus give them "power" to "heal the sick" and "cast out devils"? Then why would this father come to Him with the report that His disciples "could not cure" his son? They certainly did not lack the "power." It was theirs.
There are two possibilities that we would like to consider in this message.
First of all, it is possible that they allowed the "faithless and perverse generation" around them to affect their consecration in the Lord's work. In Matthew 17:17, the Lord Jesus rebuked those in the crowd by saying - "...O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?..." The Jewish people were influenced by perverse opinions which hindered them from receiving the truth. They held opinions that turned or perverted them from the truth. Resultantly, they were wicked in their conduct. Jesus had been with them a long time. He had done so many wonderful works in their midst, yet they remained unbelieving and incorrigible.
If we are not careful as present-day disciples of the Lord Jesus, we can allow the spirits, attitudes, dispositions, or opinions of others to quench our effectiveness in the work of the Lord. Their negativity and unbelief can pull us down and cause us to waver from our steadfastness. How important it is that we stand strong against their faithlessness and perversity - not allowing it to rob us of what we know is ours in Christ.
Secondly, when the disciples saw how the demon threw the boy into such epileptic fits - causing him to fall into the water or into the fire, it is very possible that they got their eyes off of Jesus and became full of fear. In Matthew 17:17, the Lord Jesus said to the father of the boy - "...bring him hither to Me." Any disciple of the Lord's knows that he has no power in and of himself to cast out devils nor to heal the sick. His source of spiritual strength, power, and authority comes from God alone. Therefore, the devil will purposely put on a "grand production" - hoping to draw everyone's attention away from Jesus - the source of power. He certainly did it in this case. Even though the disciples had the power to cast him out, they - for a moment - lost sight of their mission and Who it was that gave it to them.
"...Why could we not cast him out?"
"...Because of your unbelief..."
It wasn't that they had no faith at all. It was simply because of the smallness of their faith that they failed in this venture. They certainly did not have the miracle faith that was needed to get the job done.
What they needed was thriving, increasing faith - the kind that would indeed remove "mountains"...accomplish the most difficult undertaking...and do that which is seemingly impossible.
If they only had this faith of miracles, Jesus said that - "...nothing shall be impossible unto you"(Matthew 17:20). They would be able to perform anything and everything that would make for the glory of God...the enlargement of His kingdom and interest...the confirmation of truth...and the good of mankind.
Two lessons to learn here are -
- Don't allow others' unbelief and skepticism to rob you of your faith in the miracle-working power of Jesus. Others may laugh you to scorn, but keep believing for the miraculous to happen in your situation.
- And do not take your eyes off of Jesus for one second. The devil is a master deceiver. He knows that if you look to Jesus as your source of strength and power, nothing will be impossible for you. Hence, he will put on the greatest show to distract you. Don't let it happen.
We leave you with a quote from Pastor Henry which says - "It is good for us to be diffident of ourselves and of our own strength; but it is displeasing to Christ, when we distrust any power derived from Him or granted by Him."
And here is one from Adam Clarke - "To call persons to the ministry belongs only to Him Who can give them power to cast out unclean spirits. He whose ministry is not accompanied with healing to diseased souls was never called of God."
Are you casting out devils? Why not?
May God Bless His Word.
© COPYRIGHT Connie Giordano - All Rights Reserved