There is a story in Mark that tells of a man possessed by an evil spirit who came out from a cemetery to meet Jesus. This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. (Mark 5:3-5) Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” Mark 5:9) Jesus proceeded to cast the demons into a herd of pigs, which then ran off a cliff. Notice it was the man who said, “My name is Legion.” I’ve often wondered what his name was after the demons left.
I doubt that the man who called himself Legion was living his life, minding his own business, when he suddenly found himself controlled by a multitude of demons. The change had to begin somewhere. What common or everyday things led him to this self-destructive state?
What about the man who smokes? Is he hurting himself? My dad smoked all of his adult life. Then one day when I was about 16 years old, he just quit cold turkey. I was and still am proud of him for stopping. Unfortunately, he later died from lung cancer. And, though I’ve never smoked, I have now scar tissue on my lungs. He could have said to Jesus, “My name is Smoker.” He waited too long and ended up paying the price.
Another person close to me had a drinking problem for much of his adult life. Thankfully, God delivered him. Bur not before it caused him lose his first and second wife and his three children. It took years for him to be reconciled to his first two children. His third child followed in his footsteps as an addict. He had to admit to himself and to God that “My name is Drunkard.” When God delivered him, He reconciled him to his two oldest daughters, and gave him a new family
A woman I know was abandoned by her father and her mother and was raised by an elderly grandmother. She could have simply said to herself and God, “My name is Wounded,” and, just like the man named Legion, Jesus could have cast that demon out. Instead, she let her hurt fester and, because of that gained many new names. If she were honest with herself, she could say, “My name is Bitter, Selfish, Smoker, Drunkard, Drug Addict,” and others too many to list. Or she simply could say, “My name is Legion.” Because she hasn’t, she has had three children by three different men–only one to whom she was married. She’s been raped, beaten, and is usually homeless. But she still hasn’t gone running to Jesus. And she continues to suffer.
None of these examples are meant to be critical of any of the individuals. Many of the “names” these people started with were seemingly little things like “white” lies, gossiping about others, watching or reading things that they wouldn’t want advertised to their mothers, pilfering items from work, cheating on their income tax, flipping off the driver who cut you off, doing nothing when someone is being bullied, etcetera. But, not taking each of these little things to the Lord can lead to behaviors that takes you a little further away from the God who created you. Then it becomes easier to stray further until you can’t seem to find your way back to Him.
I’d be surprised if each of you didn’t have some of these names. I know that I have more than one of them–too many. I think that all of us need to admit to ourselves and Jesus that, “My name Is…” And do it before your name becomes “Legion.” Despite being filled with many demons, when the man saw Jesus he still ran toward Jesus and bowed before Him. (Mark 5:6) And Jesus set him free. He wants to do the same thing for you and for me.