And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
On occasion I read, watch or listen to something that God uses to deeply move me. God’s Spirit gets a hold of me and simply won’t let go.
Such was the occasion as I listened to Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) preach this sermon, Diagnosing the Need based on Mark 9:28-29.
The disciples of Jesus had proven impotent in the presence of a demon possessed boy. The boy, his father and the disciples were all helpless and hopeless until Jesus arrived.
The thesis of this sermon is that Christians (like the disciples) rush into action before diagnosing the need for a power greater than themselves in our spiritual battles. Only prayer will bring the revival that empowers.
It is sheer madness and waste of energy to attempt any kind of treatment until we have first established an accurate diagnosis.
With his background as a medical doctor, MLJ illustrates the importance of a proper diagnosis by presenting the situation of an unconscious man on the side of the street in a rain storm. The man might be suffering either from fatigue, from an alcohol stupor or from a brain hemorrhage. Should we rush into action by shaking him and shouting at him, we will have different results depending on the diagnosis.
If he is fatigued, the shaking and shouting will rouse him. If he is drunk, the shaking and shouting will have little effect. If he is hemorrhaging, the shaking and shouting might kill him. Therefore we must diagnose his need at the beginning.
MLJ identifies remedies in which Christians often rely in confronting the modern man. While each may have some effect and benefit, MLJ finds them insufficient and devoid of power. He tackles reliance on apologetics, archaeology, methodology, media, advertising and techniques.
The proper diagnosis is that we are confronting the sheer evil of the human heart and the demonic. These remedies we often choose are impotent to this diagnosis.
You must become aware of your need, of your impotence, of your helplessness. You must realize that you are confronted by something that is too deep for your methods to get rid of or to deal with. You need something that will go down beneath it and slaughter it. There is only one thing that can do that, and that is the power of God.
This kind cannot be driven out except that we be filled with God’s Spirit. It is more powerful than our human ways, but God is most powerful. We need his power.
You must become absolutely and utterly convinced of your need. You must cease to have so much confidence in yourself and in all your methods, and all your organizations and in all your slickness. You’ve got to realize that you must be filled with God’s Spirit. Be equally certain that God can fill you with his Spirit. You’ve go to realize that however great this kind is that the power of God is infinitely greater. That what you need is not more knowledge, not more understanding, more apologetics, more reconciliation of philosophy and science and religion and all modern techniques.
No! No! You need a power that can enter into the souls of men and beat them and smash them and humble them and then make them anew. This is the power of the living God.
He concludes his sermon with this injunction,
Seek the power. Pray for the power. Plead and yearn for the power.
When we receive this power, the result will be,
When God arises, his enemies are scattered.
Listen for yourself to the sermon. It is presented here courtesy of MLJ Trust.