Thesis:Hypocrisy may be unavoidable, but it is not to be treated lightly.
Introduction:A couple of weeks ago we began to look into Luke's record of the exorcism of Legion. In the bigger picture, it is Luke's "point" that Jesus is John's "Mighty One". The proof is in the reality: when "Legion" was confronted by Jesus of Nazareth, all he could do was grovel and beg. This is the clearest possible declaration of powerlessness by the spiritual forces of wickedness in the face of the identity of Jesus and makes Luke's case.
But, in the smaller picture, it seems evident that Luke is also inclined to make a smaller "point": those who oppose Jesus of Nazareth are consumed by an abject blindness of a sort that leads directly to hypocrisy and inevitable judgment.
This week's "news" included an account of Michael Phelp's rather public blunder in which he was photographed smoking pot and the end of his suspension by the powers that be. In that segment of the news the camera aimed at a woman in the crowd who was asked about that blunder. Her response, being typical these days, is a part of the focus of our study this morning: everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect; ergo we should not impose too much of a penalty on anyone. In the same newscast, the head of the racing commission was on camera bragging about how racing has the highest standard of "no tolerance" for the racers and how that is why one of the racers is now on "indefinite suspension" because he tested positive to some kind of forbidden drug. The culture clearly does not know how to deal with our universal depravity and the need for iron-clad rules.
Thus, Luke's record of Legion's behavior in 8:28-29 deserves some of our attention.
I. The Difference Between Demons and People.
A. Both have sinned and both have set themselves in opposition to God's plan of joy arising out of peace arising out of righteousness.
B. But there are varying levels of "degree" and there is a break-point that puts "tolerance" on the "allowable" side of the point and puts "final intolerance" on the other side.
1. All demons are on the wrong side of the break-point.
2. Most people are on the wrong side also.
3. But some people are yet on the "redeemable" side.
II. Luke's Focus Upon the Demons.
A. Begins with his record of Legion's behavior when he saw Jesus.
1. His initial reaction was a cry of high level emotion.
a. Merely the sight of Jesus instigated this emotion-based cry.
1) In Mark 6:49, the emotion is fear and the cry is guttural.
2) In Luke 23:18, the emotion is frustration and the cry has specific demandingness.
b. That such a phenomenon occurred testifies to the inherent knowledge that exists in all rebellious creatures that what they are doing is unacceptable to the High God of Heaven.
1) This is a prominent thesis in Paul in Romans 1:32 and 2:15.
2) Jesus documented the reality in John 3:19.
2. His next action was self-prostration at Jesus' feet.
a. This is not, necessarily, a commendable act of humility.
b. In this case it was a cowardly attempt to influence Jesus in a direction that the demons thought unlikely.
3. His next action was a loud-voice appeal to Jesus to not "torment" him.
a. This was rooted in the ill-conceived claim, "I thought we didn't have anything to do with each other."
1) In Luke 4:33 the demon of record there said the same thing.
2) It was, apparently, a self-deception that the demons had all bought into that they could act with impunity even in the creation of the Most High God.
a) In Psalm 94:9 the psalmist asks why the "fools" think like this.
b) The answer is in another Psalm, 73:12 and following: too much of a short range perspective.
c) The demons' immediate reaction of this sort shows that all self-deception is really just a thin film and not too effective in any case.
b. This was also rooted in a complete awareness of just who Jesus is.
1) He knew His name.
2) He knew His status.
c. This was also rooted in the uneasy awareness of the future: torment for the wicked.
B. Reverts to the immediately preceding event: Jesus had commanded Legion to leave the man.
1. The detail of Luke's record of the demons' behavior was designed to unveil the nature of "uncleanness" because he switches from "demon" to "unclean spirit".
a. This nature is one of severe bondage-imposition.
b. This nature is one of extreme blindness: I should not be treated in the way I have been treating others.
2. The detail of Luke's record of the demons' behavior was also designed to provide a mirror for disciples so that they will take hypocrisy seriously.
a. Hypocrisy is acknowledged throughout the Scriptures to be a basic human failing.
b. Hypocrisy is also declared to be the special object of divine displeasure.
c. "Everyone's doing it" is not going to cut it with God.
1) God has not made hypocrisy escapable, but He has made it manageable.
2) Managing hypocrisy begins with acknowledgement and continues with real repentance.