June 22, 2003


Mark 5:1-20 tells that Jesus went into the country of the Gadarenes, and "immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, 'What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.' For He said to him, 'Come out of the man, unclean spirit!' Then He asked him, 'What is your name?' And he answered, saying, 'My name is Legion; for we are many.' Arid he begged him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. And all the demons begged Him, saying, 'Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.' And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. Now those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region. And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.' And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him, and all marveled."

Matthew tells us there were two demoniacs, Matt. 8:28-34. Mark only mentions the more prominent of the two. They were a menace to the community in which they lived. By casting out the demons, Jesus was doing a service not only to the demoniacs, but to the entire community.

Jesus' primary interest was in the two troubled men. Others in the community were more interested in their property, the swine. We are reminded of some in our society who are more concerned with animal rights than in protecting the lives of developing human babies.

Finally, we note that Jesus does not stay where He is not welcome. When the Gadarenes asked Him to leave their region, He "got into the boat" and left their region, apparently never to return. We must not resist Christ, lest He also depart from us. 

--Clarence R. Johnson


Once upon a time there were two men named Saul. But this is not a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. It is a true story from the Word of God. From that Word we learn that they lived in times about 1,000 years apart, but that there were some things in their lives that were similar.

For example, they were both from the tribe of Benjamin, as we can read in I Samuel 9 and Philippians 3. Both received the name of Saul and were circumcised on the eighth day after birth (Philippians 3:5), a customary practice among Israelites. Both were reared "under the law" and after early years of obscurity held important public positions. One was Israel's first king (chosen by God), and the other was "a chosen vessel" to bear the Lord's name before the Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel (Acts 9:15). Both Sauls lived a long life, but both died a sudden, violent death. In both men we can see a passionate and zealous pursuit of their individual endeavors of life, as 'well as a resolute and persistent approach to the problems confronting them. 

The Old Testament Saul was making his way to Gibeah when he met a company of prophets, whereupon the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he prophesied among them (I Kings 10).

In a similar manner, centuries later, Saul of Tarsus was traveling toward Damascus to imprison Christians when the Lord appeared to him and directed him to Ananias in the city for further instruction.

Each of the Sauls then began a different course of life. Called by God, the Old Testament Saul used the sword against the enemies of the kingdom, but the New Testament Saul used the sword of the Spirit (the Word). Saul the king was at first a man of God and later disobeyed Him. The New Testament Saul was at first persecuting Christians, but was converted, became Paul the Apostle, and continued his service to God and man until his death. The first Saul lived unto himself, not freely and fully surrendering himself to God, but the other lived unto the Lord, not being disobedient to the heavenly vision. The source of the first Saul's reservation was pride, seen in Samuel's reprimand in I Samuel 15:23. Saul of Tarsus emptied himself of much pride, as seen in Philippines 3:7-14 and 1:21.

King Saul met his death in despair by his own hand (1 Samuel 31:4), while Saul of Tarsus (Paul) apparently died as a martyr of Christ in the full realization and acceptance of the death that awaited him (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

The life and death of each of these men should be a lesson to us all. Certainly the Old Testament Saul must remain forever a warning to avoid his errors. The life and triumph of the Apostle Paul should serve as a pattern for our own lives (Philippians 3:17; I Timothy 1:16).

--Lee Woodward, Market Street bulletin, Athens, AL


The expression "politically correct" has become one of the most common buzz-words of the day. This expression appears to indicate that whatever the majority believes, or whoever shouts the loudest, or whoever might have the most powerful lobbying group, is the politically correct course to follow (cf. Ex. 23:2; Matt. 7:13-14). But "political correctness" is not all it's cracked up to be. Right and wrong become blurred in the haze of a system built upon pleasing people more than pleasing God. "Political correctness" more and more deifies man and de-emphasizes God. Unfortunately, brethren have not been completely immune from imbibing the supposed "political correctness" of worldly thinking. For example:

It is politically correct to dismiss personal responsibility and to blame society, environment or "temporary insanity" for our actions. But the word of God says we will all give and account to the Almighty for the choices we have made and the things we have done (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 5:10). Men cannot try to deny responsibility for their actions, and for the consequences of wrong decisions, and be pleasing to God (cf. 2 Sam. 11 and 12).

It is politically correct to grant and condone divorce for every cause. To many, the idea of man and woman living in marriage until death is ludicrous! But the Bible is clear that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). While divorce may be granted for every cause by the state, this is not what the word of God teaches (Matt. 5:32; 19:3-9)

It is politically correct to view abortion as pro-choice. After all, it is alleged, doesn't a woman have a right concerning her own body? Since promiscuity is in, and sexual purity is out to the "politically correct," abortion becomes a viable means of dealing with babies who have no "choice" whatsoever concerning whether they live or die. It is a sad state of affairs when some will argue against the value of life, particularly the innocent unborn. But that is precisely what is being done in our own land by some, including individuals who claim to be deeply religious (cf. Ps. 139:13-16; Luke 1:41, 44; Ecc. 11:5; Prov. 6:16-17). This view not only aborts a baby, but justice and mercy!

It is politically correct to see homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. Have you ever noticed how seldom one sees an advocate of homosexuality depicted in a negative vein through the media? Scripture is very adamant about the sinfulness of homosexuality (cf. Gen. 19:4-5; 2 Pet. 2:6-7; Jude 7; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-l1).

It is politically correct to claim the "traditional family" is a relic of the past whose demise should be welcomed. The devil has truly worked well in many of our lives! The loving relationship which should exist between husbands and wives has been compromised due to "career" and "irreconcilable differences" (cf. Eph. 5:23-33). Many parents no longer seem interested in training their children. They abdicate their role! As a result, far more children are the real rulers of homes than we would like to admit (cf. Eph. 6:1-4). Any home that doesn't build upon the foundation found in Gods word is dysfunctional and headed for difficulty (Ps. 127: Col. 3:18-20).

It is politically correct to view Scripture as a great book of stories, proverbs and quips, or even as a "love letter" from God. But it is completely unacceptable to the political correctness of the day for one to strongly affirm that the Bible is the plenary, verbally-inspired word of God. People realize that if indeed Scripture is the very word of God, revealing the very mind of God, it must constitute the authoritative standard by which all men are obligated to submit (I Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20; 1 Thess. 2:13-14). Whether one is pleased by the fact or not, we all will be judged on the basis of our compliance with the word of God on the day of judgment (John 12:48). God has spoken, and his word is to be heard, loved and obeyed.

It is politically correct to believe there are no moral absolutes. It is not at all unusual to hear politicians speak of "getting tough on crime." Nor is it unusual to hear brethren speak of the need and importance of church discipline. Both of these statements are true and are deeply appreciated. However, the just practice of such is thwarted due to a lack of conviction about what is right and what is wrong. Words can easily become nothing more than rhetoric unless backed up by proper action (cf. Josh. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Thess. 3:6).

It is politically correct to portray those with at least some semblance of respect for God and for biblical authority as hypocritical, legalistic, ignorant and backward. Most of the time, it is far easier to attack the person than to deal with principle. It is ever important for us to remember that truth is truth, regardless of its source. Balaam's donkey was the best friend he ever had! (Num. 22-24). Closed minds, callused hearts, carnal mouths and conceited egos will do more to keep people out of heaven than we could ever imagine. Is it any wonder the Lord repeatedly emphasized the importance of proper hearing (Matt. 13:10-23; Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18; Rev. 2:7)?

The politically correct way too often sounds like the wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). How true it is that the children of God are but resident aliens on earth (I Pet. 1:1; 2:9-11) May we never become guilty of sacrificing the spiritually proper for the "political correctness" of a world lost in sin. To be guilty of such is to sacrifice the ultimate in heaven for the immediate here on earth. And that's much too great a price to pay!

--Mike Vestal, "The Restorer,' February, 1994 Via ' Great Oaks Church of Christ, Memphis, TN


Clarence R. Johnson
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