08 Mar Discussion Guide: Jesus: The God Who Heals – Week 2
Before We Get Started
For our discussion today we will be using the sermon series discussion guides. If you would like to follow along you can access this discussion guide on the website at mosaicchurchaustin.com and then select “community group resources” in the menu options.
Because the main goal of our time together is to establish relationships and learn how to walk with one another in all that God has called us to be and do, we’d like to begin by praying for one another. So, does anyone have anything you’d like us to pray for, or anything to share regarding how you’ve seen God moving in your life that we can celebrate together.
This Week’s Topic
This week we continue on through the Gospel of Mark as we are in the next part of a three part series looking at Jesus: The God Who Heals. We will be taking at look at Mark’s claims regarding the life of Jesus and how this Jesus of Nazareth not only changes lives, but has changed history itself. Today’s discussion is going to be a bit of a testimony session as we discuss when, how and why our faith journey began and how, if you’re a Christian, following Jesus has impacted your life.
How have you seen, or maybe even experienced, evil and darkness in our world today?
Roger Kint (Character in the movie The Usual Suspects)
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
Why does our belief/view of evil and demonic forces matter?
“They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.”
What does this passage tell us about the existence of evil and demonic forces in our world?
What does this passage tell us about the power of Jesus compared to that of those demonic forces?
What do you think Satan and demonic forces want most in our world and our lives?
This passage in Mark 5 shows us two realities about demonic forces. First, it shows us that they absolutely exist and seek to cause us harm, to inflict fear, to distract us from God’s will for our lives, and destroy our relationships. Second, it shows us that even at their very worst and most powerful, these demonic forces are still subject to, and absolutely no match for, the will and authority of Jesus.
When the storm rose up on the lake, Jesus simply said, “Peace. Be still.” When this demoniac comes at Jesus he does so with great fear and trembling and has to ask Jesus for permission to stick around by going into a herd of pigs. Jesus is always in the position of power and control. He alone is King of the Universe.
Even so, these demonic forces want nothing more than to try to rob God of the glory due His name, the glory that is revealed in and through human beings when we live in obedience to the Word of God. Therefore, these forces aim to deceive us in an attempt to encourage us to chase after our own will rather than God’s, and when they can’t deceive us then they seek to shame, condemn, persecute and make us feel rejected for our obedience. In a nutshell, the scheme of the enemy is to inflict fear in our hearts through accusation, intimidation and alienation because he/they know(s) that if we come to the place of resting in the perfect and unconditional love of God then we are untouchable to the enemy’s plans.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Where does evil come from?
Why is dismissing the presence of demonic forces as illogical and superstitious not a helpful response?
Why is blaming everything that goes wrong on demonic forces not a helpful response either?
“And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”
How do things like unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, and the need to control open up doors in our lives for darkness to creep in?
How does the power of Christ keep our own hearts from being overpowered, or succumbing to, these forces of darkness?
Evil is the result of pride and self-centeredness. Scripture tells us it was pride that welled up in Lucifer’s heart causing him to “want to be like the Most High,” resulting in his ejection from God’s presence in Heaven. It’s no coincidence that the lie Satan used to lure Adam and Eve into sin was the same…”He knows that when you eat of it you will be like Him, knowing good and evil.” You can be like God without having to submit to God. You can live for your own glory rather than for His. Yes, there is a devil. Yes, there are demonic forces that work alongside of the devil. To dismiss that is foolish because you cannot resist a power you don’t believe exists. To give Satan credit for every bad situation and circumstance is foolish as well, because in doing so you ascribe more power to him than he actually possesses and dupe yourself into thinking you are powerless to do anything against him.
However, at it’s very essence, evil and darkness is the result not just of demonic influence, but of a choice made in the human heart to “be like the Most High.” It stems from our desire to make a name for ourselves, to elevate ourselves above others, to become the envy of others because then we feel valued and wanted. At it’s core, evil is the by product of our need to prove our worth because we inherently feel unworthy of love, and love is our greatest need.
Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, all of those things are what result when we feel we have not received the love we so desperately long for. In response to that feeling of rejection we seek to make other people “pay” for the wrong they have caused us, and the price we place on our heart is the lack of loving them back. If they won’t love us then we won’t love them and we’ll see to it that no one else thinks they’re worthy of love either. We can call this hatred, and hatred is just the outworking of pride. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought and by definition that means we must also think more lowly of others than we ought.
In the face of all of that pride, insecurity, hatred, bitterness, self-preservation, darkness, and evil steps Jesus and his substitutionary love. A love that says yes, you have done nothing to deserve love, to earn good, to prove your worth. In fact, you have done just the opposite. And yet, I still love you unconditionally. I still long for your heart. I still desire a relationship with you. So much so that I was willing to give my own life to win you back. I love you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I want to heal all that brokenness and fear and insecurity in your heart because I made you for myself.
And when you realize that kind of love is yours, that there’s no greater love you could ever experience and there’s nothing anyone could ever do to take that away from you, then, and only then, are you free from pride and bitterness. You see the Gospel tells you that you were so bad that Jesus had to die for you, which shuts down our pride and boasting, but it also tells you that you are so loved that Jesus was glad to die for you, which frees you from being defined or controlled by the perceptions and opinions or treatment of others.
If the root of evil is pride and selfishness, what can we do to combat the darkness in our world today?