My Testimony FOR GOD 

 Scripture Reading: Mark 5:1-20 Text: Verse 19
     "Ö[Jesus] said to him, "Go home to your people and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had compassion on you."

     Our first reaction to the title of this message might be to disagree with it. It sounds self flattering and maybe even self-serving. That reaction would be true if:
         We were testifying of what we have done for ourselves. Such a testimony could easily cross the line into proud boasting.
         We were testifying of what we have done for the Lord. Jesus cautioned His disciples about doing their good works to be seen of men for the only reward they receive is the praise of man and none from God.

     However, it makes a great difference when we are telling what God has done for us and through us. When this is our motivation we can join with the Psalmist when he wrote, "In God we boast all day long, And praiseYour name forever." Psalm 44:8

THE LORD ENCOURAGES HIS PEOPLE TO GIVE TESTIMONY FOR HIM.

     "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy." Psalm 107:2. In verses 3-7 we have a description of that redemption and verses 8 and 9 encourages again, "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, e has satisfied the thirsty soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness." 

       The last words Jesus spoke before ascending back to heaven were, "Öbut you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."   Acts 1:8

     The word "witness" and the word "testimony" mean basically the same thing. In a legal sense we can provide testimony in court when we can tell of what we have seen, heard or learned by personal experience. In daily life we share the worth of products used, doctors consulted and services rendered, etc. We are giving testimony about these things every day. The Lord wants us to give testimony about how He has had compassion on us and about the great things He has done for us.

THE EARLY CHRISTIANS GAVE ENTHUSIASTIC TESTIMONY.

     Luke, the beloved physician, summed up Peterís words that followed his sermon on the day of Pentecost; "And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation". Acts 2:40

    The same religious leaders who led in bringing about the crucifixion of Jesus rounded up Peter and John because of their fervent testimony about Christ that resulted in thousands of Jews becoming Christians. "ÖAnd commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge; for we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." Acts 4:18-20

     As Paul journeyed to Jerusalem he called the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him. He shared, "Öthe Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:23,24.

     We may think this kind of testimony for Jesus isnít happening today. The fact is that if the news media considered it newsworthy we would find that it is happening very often. At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado one of the gunmen asked a group of students if anyone believed in Jesus Christ. There was a quiet pause and then one of the girls answered "yes". The gunman replied "for what?" and then killed her. Her pause indicated that she was searching her heart to confirm that she was willing to die for her faith in Jesus Christ. She was.

     In our scripture reading we have the story of a man set free from demonic possession by Jesus Christ. The man requested that he might be able to go with Jesus wherever He went. Jesus did not grant this request, but instead, told him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."

     This story is an example of how believers should bear testimony of Jesus Christ. It teaches us:

The Cause of the Manís Condition

He was a man with an unclean spirit. - verse 2. In verses 9 through 13 we find that he was possessed by a Legion of unclean spirits. Admittedly, this is not the prevailing academic belief of the 20th century. So, we must make a choice between prevailing academic correctness and the word of God. I choose the word of God. Jesus gave permission to whatever possessed this man to enter into a heard of swine. They all ran down the steep hill and perished in the sea. You can call it being "extremely maladjusted to the point he was mentally deranged" if you want, but when it was transferred to the porkers, it wrought havoc with some farmerís hog business.

The Bible identifies Satan as the chief evil spirit, and often refers to him as the Devil. Peter warns, "Your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8 The Bible also teaches Satan commands a host of fallen spirits that are highly organized to carry out their evil work. Paul writes, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:11, 12.

The cause of this manís condition was demonic possession.

The Effects of This Manís Condition

"Öhe had his dwelling among the tombs." Verse 3. He chose to live among the dead. Our reaction might be, "How gruesome!" or "How gross!". And yet, consider the condition of every human being before they experience salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul wrote the Christians at the church of Ephesus, "And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." Ephesians 2:1,2. Before they got saved these Christians at Ephesus were spiritually dead and living their lives according to the influences of Satan. The same statement could be made of any group of believers anywhere. When we are spiritually dead we choose to run with others who are spiritually dead. After we get saved, we prefer to run with those who are spiritually alive.

"And constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones." Verse 5 Can you imagine the terror this man struck in the hearts of parents and children. The strongest of men were fearful of being out on the roads and paths by night and even in daylight everyone kept watch for this one they feared.

This manís crying out constantly speaks of the agonies he experienced in his mind and spirit. His gashing of his body speaks of efforts to kill unbearable pains in his body. Scarred in body without and tormented within he must have made a horrible appearance.

What The "World Village" Did For This Man

In the past weíve called it "Society" or The Community" or "The Citizenry", but the current popular name is "World Village". It speaks of producing a culture by which we can solve the problems that people have. It seems that some intellects who live in ivory towers never tire of dreaming up such idealistic solutions.

They bound him with chains and shackles. They believed that if they could put strong enough restraints on him they could bring him under control. That is still being done today. Criminals are under strong constraint in jails and prisons. Psychotics, neurotics, etc. are under strong constraint in mental institutions. In this manís case, it didnít work because he broke the shackles and there was no man who could subdue him.

It seems "the world village" will never face the fact then when a man or woman is in the control of Satan or his demons they are also empowered with supernatural Satanic or demonic power that no natural solution can control.

What Jesus Did For This Man

Jesus commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. All the evil spirit could do was negotiate with Jesus to let him and the other spirits with him enter into a nearby herd of swine. Since Jews didnít have any business raising hogs, Jesus gave permission. When Jesus saves a soul Heís preparing the body to be the temple of the Holy Spirit and there is no room in that temple for Satan or demons. This is the only miracle with destructive consequences that Jesus performed. May I say that I have seen people saved who were in such businesses that their businesses had to go after they got saved.

Jesus gave the man peace of mind and decency. When the people of the area came to check out what happened to the hogs, they found this man "sitting down, clothed and in his right mind." That he was sitting down speaks of the peace of mind and spirit Jesus gave. That he was clothed speaks of the sense of decency Jesus gives. Remember that when God restored our original parents to His fellowship after they sinned He clothed them. The man was in his right mind. This means that he had received a spiritual understanding that comes only from God. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."   1st Corinthians 2:14. Unsaved people donít think different from saved people because they are smarter or better educated. They think different because they are totally devoid of the spiritual illumination of the Holy Spirit. We can only truly be in "our right mind" when we have that spiritual illumination.

What Jesus Told The Man To Do

"Go home to your peopleÖ" Sometimes people are bashful about bearing testimony of what Jesus has done for them to their friends and relatives. "They know all the bad things I did before I got saved!" But when Jesus truly saves us our life will be changed, and that gives credibility to our testimony. One pastor related a story about a man who would often come home drunk. He would beat his wife and kids, and kick his dog. The pastor said, "When he got saved, even his dog knew it."

"Öand report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you." Please note that we donít have to report on what Heís done for others. We donít have to report that we are an instant Bible scholar and can answer all their questions about the Bible. All we have to do is give testimony of our personal experience of what the Lord has done for us. Will they believe it? Some will. As this former demon possessed man gave testimony of what Jesus did for him in the ten Roman cities of Galilee everyone marveled. We cannot say with certainty, but it is likely that some placed their faith in Christ. In time, various apostles and other preachers would come to these cities and bear testimony of Jesus. This manís testimony would still be in their minds and give weight to the 2nd and 3rd and more times that they would hear of Jesus. They Holy Spirit would bring the gospel message home to their hearts in power and many would be saved.

Our testimony for Jesus has a power about it today just as the testimony of saved sinners always has. Letís love that testimony and give it to our friends and relatives. Down lifeís trail some will say, "if God can do that for him/her, He can surely do it for me."

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.