When Jesus came across the man possessed by demons, his power over even demons was demonstrated. Before Jesus came along, this man lived amongst the dead, for no one would associate with him. He was out of control, both by himself and others. He was dysfunctional, unable to do what he was intended to do, even so far as to be self harming. Jesus was able to take this man and cleanse him of his illness, to remove the demons from him completely, to restore him to a completely right mind.
Whilst we may not be demon possessed, we are all possessed by sin. This sin permeates everything we do. Sin makes us dead before God, because of sin we are unable to associate with a holy God. Far from being self-controlled, we are controlled by sin. Sin causes us do things which are not for our good, even to take pleasure in it. Sin ultimately stops us from being able to do what we were intended to do. Yet, in his power, Jesus is able to cleanse us from sin, to remove it from us and take it upon himself. This is not to say sin is removed completely straight away, but if our faith is in Christ, not only will he cleanse us from sin, but his Spirit will dwell in us and strengthen us that we might be able to do his will. Through the power of the Spirit, we are able to do what we are intended to do – to glorify God, and through that, we find our chief enjoyment.
When the apostle Paul prayed earnestly for the thorn in his side to be removed, God didn’t grant him his request. On the contrary, God’s reply was that the thorn would remain, for this was for Paul’s edification. It would stop his pride building up. It would cause him to rely more on the God who promised grace sufficient to bear it. It would cause him to boast more in Christ, whose power would work through him.
We need wisdom to be able to determine when we place our prayers before God and are given an answer we do not want. We need contentment with our lot – whatever that may be. Ultimately we need to rely on God whose grace is sufficient for all our needs.