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Exorcism

• Greg Boyd

One of the main spiritual strongholds that we deal with is “mine-ing” stuff. We want to acquire stuff, label it as ours and create divisions in our souls that separate us from God. God wants us to heal these divisions by renouncing the false god, Mammon.

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How we treat “our stuff” can be a cause of divisiveness in our lives. Our culture wants us to fill our lives with stuff; stuff that we call our own—“my car” or “my house”. Our culture wants us to have a “mine-ing” attitude to life. Not only does our culture want us to have a “mine-ing” culture, but it wants us to never be satisfied with what we have. Yet, this “mine-ing” emphasis sucks the life, joy, and peace of the Kingdom out of us.

Our relationship to our possessions is the focus of this sermon. This relationship gets to the core of how we treat money and our stewardship of the things God gives us. Jesus tells us that those who do not give up all of their possessions cannot be His disciples. It seems easy for us to dismiss this because it doesn’t follow common sense, but when we put it in the context of the rest of the Bible; we begin to see what Jesus is telling us.

Jesus commended Zacchaeus for giving away half of his wealth and didn’t demand the rest. Jesus routinely stayed in people’s homes and told us to trust that God would provide food and shelter. Paul commands the rich to not put their hope in wealth as opposed to asking the rich to give up their wealth. Paul goes on to tell them that God gave them their wealth for their enjoyment. So we need to dig deeper in this passage in order to see what Jesus was saying.

When we look at the Greek of the passages, we begin to see that Jesus is looking at a deeper reality than merely having possessions. He is speaking to the mindset of “mine-ing” our possessions and giving our stuff the identity of belonging to us. Jesus is calling us to stop the “mine-ing” of our possessions. If we “mine” our possessions, we will lack the ability and dynamic power to be a disciple of His. This is not a rule, but a reality that Jesus is pointing out. We were made for singular devotion to God, but we try to pretend that we can be divided in our devotion. In fact, Jesus says that we can’t serve both God and money.

In the original Greek, however, the term that Jesus uses for money is mammonas and not the usual Greek word for money—argyrion. Some have interpreted this as Jesus symbolizing money as an evil being, but it actually refers to a literal demonic entity called Mammon. It really doesn’t matter which way it is understood; it only matters that there is a demonic pull to money, and this is why Jesus wants us to renounce the demonic pull of money by not “mine-ing” our possessions. When we “mine” our possessions, we give power and our allegiance to money or Mammon. This is why Paul says in 1st Timothy–“For the love of Money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

When believers get sucked into the lure of Mammon, we become divided in our soul and our allegiance to God. This is not to say that we can’t have possessions, but rather is saying that we shouldn’t “mine” our possessions. When we cling to and “mine” our possessions, our possessions cling to us and “mine” us. When we renounce Mammon, we realize our special relationship to our possessions that God wants us to hold. We realize that we own nothing—that we are merely tenants in God’s house, God’s car, and God’s clothes. Our life becomes God’s life: we become undivided in our service to God.

Our culture wants us to divide our understanding of our lives into the secular and spiritual. The spiritual being our church, prayer, ministry, and the way we help people. The secular then becomes everything else: house, food, clothes, car, and money. Yet, the truth Jesus wants us to know is that everything is spiritual. And when everything is spiritual, everything that we interact with has a spiritual dimension to it.

Everything has spiritual tentacles that latch onto us if we lay claim to it and “mine” it. It becomes a part of us as we become a part of it. To remain undivided, we must not lay claim to our possessions and thereby refuse the tentacles that come with it. We must renounce Mammon and then we can enjoy the freedom, peace, joy, and dynamic power of the Kingdom of God. We become undivided in our devotion to God.

(Greg led the congregation in a call and response prayer at the end of the sermon. Below is the text for that prayer. The italicized text is the response portion.)

Abba Father, we confess that you are our Lord and Savior and that we are your people.

As your people, we acknowledge that our life, and everything we “own,” belongs to you and is to be used for you.

But we confess that we have often succumbed to the pull of Mammon and have tried to possess our life and the things we “own.”

By your grace and empowering Spirit, we repent of our clinging and ask for your forgiveness.

By your grace and empowering Spirit,_we release our hold on our life, for it belongs to you.

We let go of our hold on all our “possessions,” for they belong to you.

We relinquish our grip on all relationships, for they belong to you.

By your grace and empowering Spirit, we rebuke the spirit of Mammon!

We cast out the spirit that seduces us to say “mine”!

We renounce the spirit that lures us into greed!

We revolt against the spirit that leads us into bondage!

We sever all spiritual tentacles that suck life out of us!

We exorcize the spirit that entraps us in false security!

We stand united against all powers that influence us away from being wholly devoted to you alone.

You, Abba Father, are our God, and there is no other.

You are our Lord, and we will serve no other.

You are our Savior, and we will look to no other.

You are our Life, and we need no other.

You are our Security, and we will find peace in no other.

For freedom you have set us free, and we commit to standing fast in that freedom. All praise, and honor and glory be yours, now and forever. Amen.

(The song used at the beginning of the sermon was “Peter Denies Jesus” by John Debney. The poem at the beginning of the sermon was written and read by Terri Churchill.)

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Topics: God's Will, Greed, Money, Power, Transformation

Sermon Series: Undivided


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 16:13

    “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

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6 thoughts on “Exorcism

    Rick Nelson says: Monday November 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Someone give the man a good used car!

    If I had one, Greg would get it. But I need my used minivan for my job, and I’ld not be able to work without it. Now, my wife could have used a cheaper car, but it is a Prius and saves a lot of money after the fact. It also does what we enjoy and that’s work for the environment.

    SO, what about all the greed we live with in this world society? Do you submit to greed? I have to think long and hard with this regard, because I’m generally not greedy. I don’t want much, except that Greg mentioned people, and that must include my family?

    I resist very strongly the notion that I would exclude my family from how I want to serve with my resources. I will always know that my motivations are to meet my sons needs as best I can. Though through two long years of unemployment I’ve met those by my presence, mind and body more than financial. What is not in my mind is to lessen this interaction in any way.

    This last seems counter at first glance, to what Greg preached (in the general sense) with putting my life toward the closest possible service to my Lord and Savior. Though, I harken my thoughts to the warning me to keep my commitment to raise him knowing Jesus. This means that I’ll be serving Jesus with working on the commitment. So, one down, many to go.

    What about all the work I desire to have, which would mean less time with my son, but money to give to the church, money to make sure I could attempt to bring him to church activities. I do not do that now, because I’ve no money for it. But, would I have time for it with work? I do some very small jobs as a contractor, and I’ve been able to keep the minivan and my cell phone. I don’t have the internet any more, but I use the library instead. I don’t have a land line and I don’t miss it. I don’t have any extra money for treats, but I’ve been able to have just enough gas for the minivan (so far).

    I don’t want to consider too much of any unknown, I let it go, there’s not enough energy to give in to that. I’ll have more time for some things with a “real” job, and less time for, whatever. I like the outdoors, and I like to show my son new things, or work on bettering something for a sport, or how to use tools, or look at something scientifically, spiritually, physically, etc… We like to read together, sing and play games together, so we’ll have that, but for how long? I know from raising on child that at some point I will take the back seat. I revel in our time now, but acknowledge its transitory.

    So, where’s the greed I keep asking myself. I do own a lot of tools for my work. I own doubles and even triples of some. I don’t have to have those, but they’ve played a role in how I’ve done some job or another. It made sense when I bought them, but now, being unemployed for so long, I wonder just how important so many tools realy are? I also wonder about my DVD’s, CD’s, books, and that I bought some work software, a computer, printer, and other work related (self-employed) support devices. Nothing extravagent at first glance. But I didn’t really have to have that lazer-level and maybe didn’t really need the design software? I don’t know, second guessing now seems senseless. I had a plan, there was a purpose, but the economy crushed it! That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    Was it greed? Where was the greed in so much? I can recall I made poor use of time in my late 20’s and through much of my thirties. I think a lot of greed to waste time was a problem, but not any more. I try to take things as they come now, looking to what’s before me, and the necessies.

    So, I’m looking for like minds with all this. I also am trying very hard to keep an open mind, not judge, and work this. I do judge. I see people who don’t seem to know what actions they do that are making others actions harder. Such as blocking doorways in our large gathering area. A lot of families want to see their kids after the service, but so many walk abreast, or congregate right in front of Heroes Gate’s entry I find myself wondering whether the actions I observe are rude or not? I also judge how courteous others are? Do you block doorways, and I think it’s still rude if your oblivious. Being oblivious is rude.

    See, I’m greedy to be a judge of others rudeness. It’s this nature that I seek to ebb. It could be better to let go, but there’s this kind of (Greg type ADD) attention I give to rudeness. It affects me. Gotta work on it.

    Reply
    Denny Anthony says: Monday November 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Powerful!

    I would like to know where I can get a copy of that final prayer. I couldn’t read it. Does anyone know where it may be available?

    Reply
    Jim LePage says: Tuesday November 9, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Hey Denny – You can find the prayer on the downloads page for this sermon:

    https://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermon/exorcism

    It is at the end of the “Extended Sumary.”

    Hope that helps!

    Reply
    Rick Nelson says: Tuesday November 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I’m curious why the sermon is “powerful” to you. What specifics about your life come to mind?

    Reply
    Lindy Combs says: Saturday November 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    This sermon series is giving me a vision of a plowed field, (I am the field) ~ Ouch! Oh man! At first I was really intimidated by Terry Churchill’s exercise at the table and the bag full of “stuff.” (Listening to the Kids) The second time I watched the sermon, and did that “exercise” I was jolted with emotion and profuse crying at what came up from my core. I never realized that some of the THREE most major woundings of my life happened all at about age 11, situations involving people of high impact in my life, that crippled me in my belief systems about myself and life in general. I am learning, that as a legalist for most of my life, with behavior-based/ performance-based contacts with people, that I have not trusted God for much of anything. Idols of my heart, i.e., people seeking, please pleasing, are all coming down. I have been afraid there would be nothing left of me, but that too, I have seen, is an idol of the “great and mighty” SELF, that Jer. 33 speaks of, things I could not know without revelation.
    Lindy

    Reply
    Rick Nelson says: Tuesday November 23, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Hi Lindy,

    I was reading “Ask Greg” just a moment ago, and then began looking at all the older posts on each of the “undivided blogs”.

    Your experience at 11 is one I think many of us can admit to. The age will vary, but the incidence of one to many events forming a portion of our character makes intuitive sense. The “Ask Greg” answer to the question brought up to me what about our character? Is it being set, and into a form within which we eventually settle? That meaning, our character will be less fluid as we age, more prone to a rigid set of traits?

    I think from the answer in “Ask Greg” it’s possible to interpret the answer is we do settle upon a rigid set of traits. Yet I differ in my thinking, and add that I think Greg has to address the answer to the point, while leaving so much more out here to think over. Here I am thinking up one of those other tangents to Greg’s answer.

    Did I remain clear? That is, I’m out here thinking that our character set is not static, we do have chances, we do have fluid lives, which our free will moves to what we perceive benefits us? That is not meant selfishly. I mean it within the context of Christian living, perceiving that our Jesus-centric concerns do prevail when our hearts move toward that kind of opening.

    I’m thinking of how giving up sin of some kind opens more of our heart to Jesus. Here at Woodland Hills it’s obvious that there are many chances to make a choice to move toward an opening with Jesus.

    I now think it’s not so much that I’m trying to differ from Greg as it is to add my two cents. It would help if others where around to give their thoughts.

    Any.

    Reply

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