Study Guide: Exorcism

Sunday November 7, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

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.

Extended Summary:

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.)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Do you think of yourself as a “mine-er”? What does that mean in your life?
  3. When you think about your possessions, which are the toughest to “un-mine”?
  4. Why do you believe it is so enticing to “mine” our possessions?
  5. What are some ways that you can remind yourself to ask the 3rd question when it comes to possessions—“Does God want me to have this”? In what ways can you help yourself be held accountable in your renunciation of Mammon?