This morning, we continue in the Gospel of Mark, as we come to Mark 1:21-28.

Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.

1:21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he [that is, Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

This is the word of the Lord.  (Thanks be to God.)

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

Let’s pray …

Lord, we plead before you this morning,

to give us understanding according to your word.

Let our prayer come before you now,                                                                                               

and deliver us according to your promises.

Our lips this morning have poured out your praise,

because you teach us your statutes.

Our tongues have sung of your word,

because we know that all your commandments are right.

And so, as we attend now to your word,

grant us understanding and be at work in our hearts,

for Jesus’s sake. Amen

[Based on Psalm 119:169-172]


Our text this morning tells us of a conflict between Jesus and an “unclean spirit” – between Jesus and a demon … a devil.

And by making that the first mighty work of Jesus that he records, Mark focuses us here on conflict with the demonic in the spiritual realm, as an aspect of Jesus’s ministry and as an element that impacts human life.

That’s not a topic we talk about a lot … either as Presbyterians … or as modern Western people. It’s not a topic we feel particularly comfortable with – which will actually, in some ways, be the starting point for us this morning.

Now, I preached on this text four or five years ago. And I’ll be drawing from some of what I said then … though, I’d like to take us beyond the elements I highlighted then as well.

This morning I’d like to consider three things – three things this text calls us to.

First, we must be aware of the reality and the closeness of the demonic realm.

Second, we must not be ignorant of the devil’s schemes in our own lives.

And third, we must know where to flee for refuge.

Being Aware of the Reality & Closeness of the Demonic Realm

So first, we need to be aware of the reality and the closeness of the demonic realm.

Which is an aspect of spiritual life that I think we often tend to overlook.

In February of 2009, about 70 students at my alma mater, NYU, stormed the cafeteria in the student center, barricaded the doors shut, and declared that they were staging an occupation, and that they would not leave until NYU met a list of demands that they had.

I have affection for my school now … but I will admit that it was a very NYU kind of thing to do: to choose to attend a school like NYU, to want all the benefits that might come from attending a school like that, but then to also want to stage a massive protest against the very school you chose to attend.

Now, I had graduated a few years earlier, but when this all happened, I followed it closely – it was covered in some national news sources at the time.

The occupation ended about 40 hours after it began. On Friday afternoon the remaining students who had taken over the cafeteria saw security guards and police approaching the doors. They gathered around the jumble of tables and chairs they had piled up at the two doors that went directly into the cafeteria from the hallway. They were ready for a struggle.

And as they stood there, bracing the barricades at these two doorways, they heard the clang of a metal gate. And they turned their heads to see what was happening.

You see, besides those two doors, there was another entrance way into the cafeteria. It was through the area where food was normally sold. There were three ways into the cafeteria on the third floor. There were those two sets of doors that the students had barricaded so carefully, and then there was the much bigger entrance through the area where you could buy food and go from there into the cafeteria. During the occupation that entryway was blocked by a pull-down metal gate – like the kind you see at the entrances of stores in the mall before they open.

Now, the students, for their occupation, had thought to block the two regular doors that entered the cafeteria. In fact they had quite a big pile of chairs and tables there to block those doors. But it apparently had not occurred to them to do anything about the really large, gated entrance by the cash registers. So when security and police decided to put an end to the occupation, they merely unlocked the metal gate, lifted it up, and walked in a big, unobstructed entrance, while the protesting students stood by their barricades at the other doors, surprised, confused, and with, I imagine, not so bright looks on their faces.

As an NYU graduate myself, I did not feel that this was a shining moment that advertised the intelligence of NYU students. Take from that what you will.

But my point is that somehow, with all their planning, and with all their work to keep their opponents out, the NYU students had missed something important. They failed to see the biggest entry way into the place they were trying to barricade. They overlooked a majority of the battlefield. And as a result, they were overtaken easily. Embarrassingly easily.

I want to suggest that our text this morning reveals that a similar thing can happen among God’s people. And, indeed, a similar thing did happen among the Jews in the synagogue of Capernaum.

The first thing we can miss is the significance of the setting of this encounter between Jesus and a devil.

Last week, we saw how Jesus goes forward, and Mark introduces us to the theme of spiritual warfare. Jesus is empowered by the Holy Spirit; he has an initial battle with Satan in the wilderness. He begins his invasion of our fallen world. He gathers fellow fighters by bringing together the first disciples.

And then, geared up for spiritual warfare, where does Jesus go for his next battle with Satan’s forces? Does he return to the wilderness? No. Does he go to the Roman garrison in Capernaum, to face the pagans? No. He goes to … the synagogue. And it is there that he finds demons to fight. [Horne, 41; Edwards 52]

And not just any synagogue – the synagogue in Capernaum. This is a town where the majority of the people were Jews, and not pagans. In a world overrun by paganism, this is a town of the faithful. [Edwards, 52]

And it’s not just in a town of the faithful, but in their synagogue – where we expect to find those who were considered the faithful among the faithful. Scholars have made the case that not all Jews at this time attended synagogue on the Sabbath. [Sanders, 201] And so within the synagogue we find not just the nominal, but the especially devout.

In other words, to go to the synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath is to go to be with those who had made great efforts to remove themselves from the pagan world around them, and all its spiritual threats.

These are people who had barricaded the doors against the influence of the world, just like those NYU students had barricaded the doors that came in from the hallway.

And then who shows up in their midst? Who, it turns out, is sitting right next to someone in the pew at Sabbath worship? An unclean spirit. A demon. One of the forces of Satan. That is who stands up to talk in verse 23.

And I imagine that those Jews in that synagogue had looks on their faces a lot like the NYU students in that cafeteria. For all their attention to some aspects of spiritual warfare, as they guarded against the world and the flesh, they had missed a significant part of the battlefield. They had failed to see demons stroll in through an un-barricaded gate. And it does seem like there must have been several devils who had made themselves at home there, as the devil who speaks in verse 24 uses the plural in referring to them. [Horne, 41] For all the steps they had taken to guard themselves spiritually against the world and the flesh, it turned out that their synagogue was full of demons. And one of them was sitting right next to them in the pew.

And we can fall into the same mistake. We, like those NYU protestors, like the first-century Jews in Capernaum, can put up so many guards and barricades against certain threats we see to our spiritual lives, while completely neglecting our spiritual battle with the devil.

And that tendency can be true both for Christians and for non-Christians alike. Let me explain what I mean by that.

If you are here this morning, and you are not a Christian, then you might be wondering what you got yourself into by coming here. You are likely either amused or a bit freaked out at this point. Because a grown man has been standing in front of you in 2022 and telling everyone that they should be more worried about demons. And no one is laughing. And so you might be thinking: “These Christians are even weirder than I thought.”

Well, as common as it is in our culture to find it ridiculous to believe in demons and exorcisms, let me take just a minute to challenge the assumption that what I’m saying is ridiculous, in three ways.

First, let me challenge it in terms of our text before us. It can be easy, almost automatic, for us to respond to this text with a sort of chronological snobbery – to say “Look, sure, people back then thought that all sorts of bad things came from demons. All sorts of holy men claimed they could cast out demons. The Bible is a product of its time. But today we know better. Which is why the Bible is ridiculous. It’s just a relic of ancient superstitions.” That’s a common response … but it’s also wrong.

First, these stories are not actually that common in the Bible. And they’re not more present in older texts than in later ones. In fact, Mark’s gospel has demons show up much more than older biblical texts do. And really, such overt demonic activity is especially concentrated in the accounts of Jesus’s ministry. And so, such stories are not the biblical norm.

But they’re also not the historical norm either. E. F. Kirschner, in his survey of exorcism in ancient literature found that while many ancient texts referred to exorcisms or exorcism techniques, very few narratives of exorcisms actually exist in ancient writings. And of the narratives that do exist … most are from the New Testament, and particularly from the Gospel of Mark. There are even fewer claims of historic exorcism figures in the ancient literature. Kirschener goes on to say, “The only exorcistic figure in the extant literature to whom a number of exorcism stories are ascribed and related in detail is the biblical figure of Jesus of Nazareth.”

Commentator R.T. France explains the significance of that like this, he writes “We are not therefore entitled to assume that Mark’s readers, on being confronted at the outset by an exorcism, would respond, ‘But of course, that is what one would expect from any special religious figure.’ They, and we, are expected to recognize here, as the synagogue congregation did, a remarkable new [teaching with authority].” [France, 100-101]

In other words, there is not a plausible reason why an early Gospel writer would make these stories up.

And so we need to at least seriously consider these accounts as historic texts.

That is the first thing to think about if you find these stories of demons and exorcisms unbelievable.

The second, is to consider your own experience in this world. It is not uncommon for people, even people who are not very religious, to admit that some spiritual force must lie behind the good things in this world: the goodness, the love, the truth, the beauty that we encounter here. We sense, on some level that there is something more to the world than what we see – some good force, or even some good person. This reality points us to God.

Let me suggest that if we see the world as it is, we must also realize that there is some spiritual force, some spiritual person (or persons), behind the evil in this world. To read history, to read the news, to know someone who has been abused or mistreated, to know about the kind of degradation, and suffering, and abuse that so many people in this world face … and to deny that there is a malevolent spiritual force behind it … in my opinion … that requires more willful blindness than I can muster. Let me suggest to you that it is not those who say there is a malevolent spiritual force in the world who are the naïve ones … but rather it’s those who say there is not one. Such a view requires rosier glasses than I can bring myself to wear.

Now, as Christians we do not think that that malevolent spiritual force is the equal but opposite counterpart to God. We believe that Satan is a created being, an angel who rebelled against God – a rebel whom God will defeat. But still, a being, and a force, and a person who is stronger than we are as mere humans. And he is not alone. He has other angels who have followed him and who want to degrade and destroy the work of God.

As you look at our world, as you let yourself see what happens every day in this world we live in, is it really so implausible that such malevolent spiritual beings exist?

Third, we can struggle with the existence of such creatures, because in many ways we cannot comprehend them. First, while the Bible points us to the effects of their work, it tells us very little about them. We don’t know what their initial rebellion looked like. We aren’t told exactly how they function. And even as we consider what we are told about them, we struggle to comprehend it – to imagine how they can possess the good quality of existence while also being wholly turned against God. We can’t picture it. [Bavinck, RD 3.36; 3.146-148] And so we tend, in our minds, to either make them less evil, or make them less real. We either turn them into caricatures, whether cartoonish and even comic pictures of little hoofed men “in red tights,” [Lewis, 37 (Letter #7)], or we imagine them more sympathetically, as many modern depictions would encourage us to do. Or we try to turn them into ideas, not real people.

But our inability to comprehend them, or picture them rightly in our heads, doesn’t make them unreal. I can’t really comprehend a quark … I can’t really accurately picture in my head what a black hole is like … but that doesn’t make either of those things fictional. And the same is true for the demons the Bible tells us of. [See also Lewis, 20-21 (Letter #1)] We cannot see them. We struggle to even imagine them. But we can see their effects on the universe we live in.

And if you are a Christian, you may believe in the Devil and his fallen demonic followers in theory … but you probably don’t think about them much. You probably don’t consider them as real active players in the spiritual struggles of your life.

But the Bible tells us that we must remember the devils. Or we run the risk of being caught unawares and unprepared … just like those gathered in the synagogue in Capernaum.

So, the first thing we see in our text is that we need to be aware of the reality and the closeness of the demonic realm.

Not Being Ignorant of the Devil’s Schemes in Our Own Lives

Second, as we consider the reality and the closeness of the devils, we must not be ignorant of the devil’s schemes in our own lives.

And this point comes to mind as we consider our text. Because the devils who invaded this synagogue had a purpose. They were at work against God’s people. They had a scheme in mind. And it would seem that until that moment, the Jews at Capernaum were ignorant of it.

And so we need to ask: Might we be the same?

The Apostle Paul warns us not to be. And the text where he does is highly instructive.

In Second Corinthians chapter two, Paul discusses a matter in the Corinthian church where a man was in sin, and the church was called on to take appropriate action against his sin. And they did. But then, once they did, and the man repented, Paul immediately urged the congregation “to forgive and comfort him” lest he “be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” Paul writes, “I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” And then, Paul explains why this is so important – he says they need to be sure to do this “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” [2 Corinthians 2:5-11]

When we hear that, we need to ask: What does it mean to not be ignorant of Satan’s designs – the Devil’s schemes?

Well, to begin, it means recognizing that there are schemes. We can far too easily fall into the habit of thinking about temptation in our life as if there is not a strategy behind it. We can tend to think of our own sinful desires as being raw things that simply rise in us … and we can tend to think of the world as wanting something from us in general, but not giving much thought to us individually.

As a result, we can tend to think of our battle with sin almost like a spiritual struggle with a dumb animal. The forces we battle may be powerful … but they’re but not particularly clever.

But the fact of the devil should overturn all such thinking. Because the devil seeks to outwit us. He has a design to his approach. There is a scheme behind his temptations.

Consider that in Paul’s words to the Corinthian church. At first the danger was that the Corinthian Christians would tolerate the sin of this individual among them. And Paul exhorted them to resist that temptation. And they did – they acted and took the proper steps to confront the man.

But once they have done that – once they have victory over the temptation on their left, Paul immediately warns them to be on guard for the temptation that will now come from the right: the temptation in their satisfaction with their right moral response, to shift into moralism – to shift into harshness, and a resistance to forgive or a refusal to restore the man in love.

The exact moment of a spiritual victory is when Paul warns them to beware of the devil’s schemes. Because Paul is not ignorant of the fact that a good enemy in battle has his eyes on multiple points of attack. And once an opponent has strengthened left flank, the enemy will lead an attack on his right flank – the very spot where the opponent is no longer looking.

Such is the nature of temptation that is guided not by brute instincts in our flesh, but by a clever devil, strategizing about how to draw us, individually and collectively, away from our God and his ways.

C.S. Lewis captures this concept in his book The Screwtape Letters, an imagined series of letters from one devil to another on how to best tempt a human. The senior devil makes it clear to the one in training that in almost anything there are two opposite ways to draw a person into sin, and away from God. And in most cases, it doesn’t matter to the tempter which one we take. The only question is which angle of attack we’ve guarded against the least. [Lewis, 32 (Letter #5); 38 (Letter #7)]

And so, if our attention is on the dangers of moral compromise, their scheme will be to tempt us to Phariseeism. If we are on guard against Phariseeism, they will try to pull us towards a disregard for God’s law. If we are on guard against heresy, they will tempt us towards slander of those we disagree with. And if we are extra focused against being overly narrow, they’ll tempt us against standing up for the truth.

Lewis has one of his devils explain his efforts like this – he explains that the goal with a group is directing its outcry “against those vices of which it is least in danger and fixing its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic” in them. He goes on: “The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.” [Lewis, 92 (Letter 25)]

There is a design to the temptations that come to us – a strategy – and it’s always adjusting to us. Herman Bavinck, considering this, writes that if we were to survey the whole of Satan’s work, “one would undoubtedly discover a plan of attack and defense in the history of its struggle.” We see this “in the sinful life of the individual,” he writes, but we also see it even more in the sinful life “of families, generations, peoples, and humanity as a whole throughout the ages.” Among the devils, “there is a deliberate methodical opposition to God and all that is his.” [Bavinck, RD 3.189]

“Thus,” Bavinck explains, “Holy Scripture teaches very clearly that Satan with his demons wages war on the church, prosecutes a guerrilla war, as it were, to inflict harm in all kinds of ways and by all kinds of means, both individually and collectively, assaults them and seeks their downfall. Satan is the author of all temptation.” [Bavinck, RE 1.453]

Satan has plans and schemes. And we must not be ignorant of them.

What does it look like to resist that ignorance? Well, first, it means we know his strategies exist. But second, following Paul’s example, it means that there may be benefit to imagining what those strategies might be. And we can begin considering that by asking a simple question: If I was faced with an identical copy of myself, and I had to tempt him or her away from God, how would I do it? What would be the best mode of attack?

What are the sorts of temptations we’d fail to see coming? What are the sinful heart attitudes that we could most easily be led towards without realizing it?

And as you explore this question, one way to approach it may be to consider the forms of temptation and the spiritual dangers you are generally most on guard about: the ones you think most about and talk about and are concerned about in your life and the life of others … and then ask: What is the opposite sin of that? What is the opposite error of the one I’m worried about? Might that be an effective route to tempt you without you realizing it? Has that maybe even happened already?

It’s something we might consider on our own. It’s something we might ask others to tell us, about ourselves – after all Paul was able to warn the Corinthians, and we often struggle to have this sort of self-awareness about ourselves. [Lewis, 25 (Letter #3)]

And if thinking this way is difficult for us, we might consider intentionally training our imaginations to consider such realities around us.

How do we get ourselves thinking in such terms?

Well, C.S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters is one good way – if you haven’t read it, or if you haven’t read it in a while, it might be worth doing so. In fact, it could be a good thing to read slowly and reflect on. You could read one letter at a time … on your own, with your family, or with a friend, or with your spouse … and then consider its implications for you together.

Another helpful resource could be reading the works of Christians from an earlier period of time. The Desert Fathers have much to say that we may disagree with, but they really believed that the spiritual realm was real, and that devils sought to strategize and tempt them away from God’s kingdom. Evagrius, in his Praktikos, presents our struggle with sin as a strategic battle between us and devils who specialize in different forms of temptation. There is speculation in all such writing, of course, but reading and reflecting on these works can be helpful treatment for our often flattened, secular imaginations.

But the goal in this is not fanciful imagining. The goal is seeing the world as it is: as containing important things we do not see. Just as we have learned to live in the world as if germs are real and can affect our lives (though we do not see them), so we must learn to do the same with devils.

We must not be ignorant of their schemes.

That said, knowing their schemes is not enough. Knowing you have an intelligent adversary is important. But if he is smarter than you, more experienced than you, more powerful than you, then that does not exactly solve your problem. It simply makes you rightly aware of it.

Which brings us to our third point.

Knowing Where to Flee for Refuge

Third, and finally, we must know where to flee for refuge.

And we see that by once again looking at our text.

Let’s read again from verse 23:

23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 

How does Jesus defeat this unclean spirit – this satanic oppressor?

Commentator R.T. France makes an important observation – he says: “There is a notable lack of ‘technique’ about this as about all the exorcism stories in the gospels […] There is no incantation, no ritual, no ‘props’ of any kind, simply an authoritative word of command. That seems to settle the matter.” [France, 104]

And that’s reflected in even the words of the demon himself. When he sees Jesus, he acknowledges that he has come against a superior power. He says in verse twenty-four: “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” [France, 104]

The text makes it very clear: The thing that ultimately defeats Satan and his forces is not a technique, it’s not a strategy, it’s not a specific kind of effort – the only thing that sends the demons running is Jesus.

And that is consistent with the rest of the Christian Scriptures. Exorcism is not taught to Israel’s priests. It’s also not taught to the New Testament church. On a few occasions those whom Jesus himself sends out cast out demons, but even then, it’s mainly to show that their ministry is a direct extension of his. The New Testament instructs the church in many things. It never instructs us in how to do an exorcism. Because the Bible’s answer for the reality of demons is not about the strategies that are available to us, but the person who is available to us.

Only the person of Jesus can truly save us from our spiritual enemies. That is the message that this text gives us.

So what does that mean for us? We face Satan and his forces. Now, we do not experience them in the same way that the man in this passage does. We are told that as Christians, we have been set free from the tyranny of the devil. The devil is not our master. We have already been released from him.

We are also told that Jesus has struck the decisive blow against Satan and his forces, in his own death and resurrection. Our situation is not identical to the first century Jews – a people living in a fairly unique moment of redemptive history – and so we should not expect our battles with Satan’s forces to look like theirs do.

But we should still expect battles. Satan is still after us. The Apostle Peter warns us to be on guard because the devil is our adversary, and he is prowling around for someone to devour. He wants to tempt us. He wants to harass us. He wants to separate us from God and from others.

And so, once you recognize the reality and the closeness of the devils, once you acknowledge their schemes in your own life, what are you to do next?

Well, the best picture may come from our children – our little ones.

When a little child encounters something big, or loud, or scary, she knows what to do. She doesn’t look for a technique. She doesn’t try to control or handle the situation. A little child knows when she is outmatched. And when she realizes that she is outmatched, she runs to someone who is stronger than she is … she flees to someone she knows is a refuge for her, and when she gets to them – to a parent or a loved one – she clings to them and does not let go.

And we are called to do the same thing.

Our calling, when we are outgunned, when the world, the flesh, and especially the devil and his forces come after us, is to do nothing other than run to, lay hold of, and cling to Christ, the One who can protect us.

Many commentators have noted, and you’ll see it in the footnoted translation in your ESV Bible, that the line “deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s Prayer – that prayer that Jesus calls on us to pray – is probably better translated “deliver us from the Evil One” and it is likely a reference to Satan. [Green, 101; Stott, 150]

Jesus wanted us to pray daily not just for our bread, but for his spiritual protection of us against the Devil.

It is only the person of Jesus, our clinging to him in faith, and his power in our lives a as result, that will keep us spiritually safe – that will deliver us from the Evil One.

We are to pray. We are to turn to the Scriptures. We are to place ourselves in the fellowship of God’s people. Not because those things are magical in themselves, or powerful techniques in themselves, but because by them we cling to Jesus Christ, and he can overcome our spiritual adversaries when we cannot.


I suspect that one reason we turn our eyes away from these truths of the demonic realm is because we want to believe that we can be in control of our own lives, and can handle things for ourselves.

And as long as we keep the spiritual battlefield small in our minds, we might believe that we can control things, that we can keep ourselves safe, if we just go about it the right way.

So we look at the world, and we tell ourselves how much smarter we are than the world around us. So while everyone else falls for the world’s lies, we will stand strong.

And we look at our flesh, and we tell ourselves that we can overcome our sinful desires. We can outwit our baser wants. We can grit our teeth and clench our fists, and white knuckle it when sinful desires arise.

Now … both of those forms of confidence are lies. We are not as clever or as strong as we think we are. But they are lies we can often easily believe.

But those lies are much harder to believe if we confront the reality of the spiritual world, and the demonic forces that want to pull us away from our Maker through temptation. Because as clever as we might be with our decades of learning, we can never plausibly make the case that we are more crafty than they are, with thousands of years of learning and practice under their belts. And as strong as we may think we are, we can never plausibly make the case that we can overpower these fallen angelic beings who are arrayed against us.

Our delusions of self-sufficiency evaporate in light of the reality of the demonic realm. And maybe that’s why they operate so hidden from our view. For such delusions of self-sufficiency are their allies.

But the Bible reveals their presence to us. And once we look at the world with that in mind, if we see the world as it is, in all its brokenness and sin, it’s hard to imagine not believing in such devils.

Once we acknowledge their presence, we must begin to consider their schemes in our own lives.

And once we see their schemes, we know that there is no remedy for us other than clinging to Jesus Christ, and seeking refuge in him.

Christ has conquered Satan. Christ has conquered sin and death. Christ has overcome this world. Christ has the power and authority to protect us, his people.

If we are to persevere into the future, as individuals, as families, and as a church, let us see the battlefield for what it is, let us not be ignorant of our Enemies schemes, and let us cling to the only one who can save us.

Let us remember the promises of God, as we hear them from one of our hymns, in which God says:

“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to his foes;

that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

[“How Firm a Foundation”]


 This sermon draws on material from:

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics. Volume Three: Sin and Salvation in Christ. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006. [RD]

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Ethics. Volume One: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity. Edited by John Bolt. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019. [RE]

Bayer, Hans. Introduction and notes to Mark in The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Edwards, James R. The Gospel According to Mark. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Evagrius Ponticus. The Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer. Translated, with introduction and notes by John Eudes Bamberger. Cistercian Studies Series #4. Trappist, KY: Cistercian Publications, 1972

France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark. NIGTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew. BST. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000.

Horne, Mark. The Victory According to Mark: An Exposition of the Second Gospel. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003.

Keller, Timothy. Jesus the King. New York, NY: Penguin, 2011.

Lewis, C. S. The Screwtape Letters. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1961 (Touchtone Edition 1996)

Moynihan, Colin. “N.Y.U. Students Continue Occupation to Press Demands.” The New York Times. February 19, 2009. Accessed July 14, 2017.

Moynihan, Colin. “N.Y.U Cafeteria Takeover Ends with Suspensions.” City Room blog for The New York Times. February 20, 2009. Accessed July 14, 2017.

Myers, Ched. Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2008 (2017 Printing)

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Stott, John R. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. BST. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978.

Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996.

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This sermon draws from portions of my 7/16/17 sermon:

“The Overlooked Battlefield”

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