One of my goals this year is to remember the Savior in a more tangible manner. To me, that means being able to relate the stories of Jesus from memory. The best way to know the Savior is to meet him. The next best way is by study and by faith. Since I haven’t met the Savior yet in this life, I’ve decided to do the next best thing – write in my own words what I know about Him.
A New Story Each Week
The beauty of this project is that I get to pick and choose what I feel inspired to tell in each post. I don’t promise to write every week, but I’m going to try. My apologies to Yoda – I’m not a Jedi Knight. You know the line, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Therefore his sage advice, a nice line from George Lucas, is not reality yet. I’m not quite at that level today. Some days I get too busy.
Jesus Christ is Real
It’s kind of funny I would think of Yoda in this first post of what I hope will be a regular series. Yoda is a small but powerful, inspiring and motivational character. However, he came from the imagination of George Lucas. On the other hand, Jesus Christ is a real person. The evidence of his existence is so great that only the most skeptical persons claim he is but a myth or legend.
Third of World is Christian
Jesus, while not small – I’ve been told He is about 6’2” or 6’3” by those who claim to have seen him – is also a powerful, inspiring and motivational individual. There are more people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ than any other person who ever lived on this earth. According to the 2011 Pew Report on Global Christianity, a third of the world population today is Christian.
Jesus Has Power Over the Spirits
One of the most remarkable attributes of the Savior, and the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Him, is His power over the adversary. Specifically, when I think of Jesus, I think of the many examples we have of Him healing those who are afflicted by evil or unclean spirits. I define evil spirits as those never mortal. Unclean spirits are the dead who hide from the light.
Definition of Evil Spirits
To be even more specific, evil spirits specifically chose to reject a mortal experience. They are not neutral. They follow Lucifer, or the devil, and do his bidding. They are controlled by him. There are those who believe these spirits can repent, believe in Christ and experience mortality. I’m not convinced this is possible, although I’ve studied arguments for each side. I remain open.
Difference of Unclean Spirit
I use the term unclean spirits because that’s a phrase found in the scriptures. It defines those who were once mortal, have died, yet have not found peace and rest in the light of paradise. They are for one reason or another, tied to something, someone or some idea in this life. They either do not believe in Jesus Christ or do not want to believe. They are lost, confused and miserable.
Yes, They are Like Ghosts
Because they have not gone to the light, they wander the earth, seeking whatever it is that keeps them bound, unable to experience it without a physical body. For this reason, they seek to find mortals who are willing to let them co-habit their mortal bodies, or just hang around with them. No, I can’t prove it and neither can you unless you can see into the spirit world all around us.
Example of Power Over Fear
You may ask why I think of such a negative concept as evil and unclean spirits when I think of Jesus. Why not think of His many examples of teaching, showing love, kindness, tenderness and mercy? Trust me, as the year rolls on, I will relate those stories and how they have affected me. Today, I start by proclaiming the power of Jesus over fear, one of the principal tools of the devil.
Prophets Saw Christ Healing Others
In the Book of Mormon (1 Ne 11:31), Nephi was shown a vision of the life of the Savior. I find it interesting he was careful to bear witness of seeing “multitudes of people who were sick, and were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits…And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.”
Afflictions Can Affect the Mind
I can relate to this verse. It speaks to me. I have been sick many times in my life. Afflicted is the right word to use when speaking of diseases. I define a disease as a sickness that lingers or will not go away. I note carefully that Nephi saw devils and unclean spirits in association with those who were sick and afflicted with disease. Such affliction can affect the mind as well as the body.
Jesus Went Around Healing People
To me, it is wonderful to know that healing the sick and afflicted is one of the main things Jesus did as he went about teaching the multitudes. What greater good can you do for someone than to heal them? I can think of only two greater gifts. One is the gift of the resurrection and the other is the gift of eternal life, which is the promise of sharing all that God has. He wants us to have that.
Faith in Christ Helps Healing
Later in the book of Mormon (3 Ne 17:5-10) Jesus asks the people to bring Him their sick and afflicted. Note carefully the words He used, “…I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.” When I am sick or afflicted as I have been for most of the past year (constant headaches), I do all the medical experts tell me. But ultimately, healing is a matter of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Afflictions Can Draw us to Christ
I have learned a lot in this past year of affliction. It’s easy to say, “Oh, it’s just part of life. It’s simply the result of too much close work with the computer for the last thirty-five years.” Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. I look upon it now as an opportunity for me to develop greater faith and specifically faith in Jesus Christ. I never thought I would say this affliction is for my own good.
God Chastens Those He Loves
Yet that’s how I feel now. We can read many places in the scriptures the Lord chastens those he loves (Heb 12:5-11, Prov 3:11-12, Rev 3:19, D&C 95:1, D&C 101:2-5, D&C 136:31). I confess it’s hard to feel loved when my head aches so much I can barely concentrate sufficiently to get my work done each day. I’ve always wanted to lose weight. I’ve lost thirty or forty pounds now.
Sometimes We Hinder our Healing
Maybe my subconscious mind is trying to help me. Maybe this pain is the only way the Lord could answer my prayer. I share with Him my goals. He knows I want to be healthy so I can serve Him and provide for my family. There’s a lot more I could do like be more consistent in exercise and diet. I wonder if I haven’t been fighting against the Lord’s efforts to bless me.
My Personal Witness
You may ask why I attribute this affliction to the adversary and not to some natural cause. Oh, I’m sure the day will come, once the headaches go away, it will be easy to look back and say, “You’re better now because you lost weight, or because we found the right combination of drugs or because you changed your diet,” or some other logical, Western, left-brained explanation.
Fasting May be Required
This affliction started with an event that convinced me the adversary was involved. You can read my story at this link if you haven’t already. I feel like Job in a small way. I am also convinced my healing will be the result of a newfound or enhanced faith in Jesus Christ that I did not have before. Faith is an amazing thing, but sometimes, it takes fasting to get rid of some afflictions.
Story of Jesus Casting Out a Spirit
That’s the first story I want to tell. It can be found in Matt 17:14-21 or Mark 9:14-29. It’s the story of Jesus casting a deaf and dumb spirit out of a young man, just one of several similar instances we have recorded in the scriptures. Casting out devils is evidence of the power, love and mercy the Lord has for us. It is one of the signs of his divinity, witnessed in vision by Nephi.
The Disciples Failed to Cast Out Spirit
One day, Jesus came down from the mountain with some of his apostles. They found a large group of people gathered around some of his disciples. Jesus asked what the commotion was all about. A man answered him and explained he had asked the disciples of Jesus to heal his son, but they were unable to do so. Jesus seemed a little exasperated. He commented about a lack of faith.
The Young Man had Seizures
Jesus then asked to have the afflicted young man brought to him. As soon as the young man saw Jesus he fell down and “wallowed foaming.” Some have interpreted that to be an epileptic fit. Jesus asked how long the young man had been like this. The young man’s father said the boy had suffered like that since he was a child. He described how the boy would fall into the fire or river.
Fear Can Hinder Faith to be Healed
This father was beside himself with grief and pled with Jesus to help his son. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to those that believe.” The man said, “Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.” The father was frightened for his son. He wanted to believe Jesus could heal his son, but had already seen the disciples of Jesus fail in their attempt. Fear had killed his faith.
The Young Man is Healed
Jesus then rebuked the foul spirit by saying, “Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” In modern language we might say something similar to this: “I command the evil spirit in this young man to leave his body and never come back.” The young man stopped thrashing about. Some of the people said the boy looked like he might be dead.
Jesus Admonishes Fasting
But Jesus took the young man by the hand and helped him stand up. The scriptures say the young man was never afflicted again. Later, the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast the spirit out of the young man. Jesus explained it was because of their unbelief. In other words, they didn’t have enough faith yet. “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
What We Can Learn From This
From this and many other similar stories, both recorded in the scriptures and in our early church history, we learn two important things. First, it takes a lot of faith in Jesus Christ to cast out evil spirits. Second, it may require subduing our own bodies through fasting both to make our own spirits more sensitive and to show the Lord we are serious about wanting the blessing of healing.
Done In The Name of Christ
I have both seen spirits cast out of people and have cast spirits out of myself and others. Some say it requires priesthood. I disagree. Women can cast out spirits. The scripture teaches it takes faith. It says nothing about requiring priesthood. All it requires is faith in Jesus Christ. Casting out spirits is not something we should fear. Hollywood movies make the process look horrible.
Some People Have Gift of Healing
More and more people are coming to an understanding of how this works. It is a real sign of faith in Jesus Christ. Some people have the gift to heal more powerfully developed than others. I have seen much evidence of natural healers who were successful because of their faith. They always used the name of Christ. He honored their faith. I am grateful for this powerful story of Jesus.
An Invitation to Open Dialog
As always, your comments are welcome. Healing is one of my favorite subjects to discuss.
Filed under: Doctrine | Tagged: Afflictions, Cast Out Devil, Evil Spirits, Faith in Christ, Fasting, George Lucas, Gift of Healing, Global Christianity, Healing, Jesus Christ, Stories of Jesus, Unclean spirits, Yoda | 10 Comments »