10/17/16 They Could Not

READING: Mark 8-9

The boy had been possessed for some time. The demon, in fact, threw him into fire and water recurrently in an apparent attempt to kill him. His desperate father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, and some of the most tragic words of the Bible came from his lips when he spoke to Jesus: “I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not” (Mark 9:18). Jesus, exasperated at both the crowd and His disciples, called them an “unbelieving generation” before He Himself cast the demon out (Mark 9:19).  

Later, Jesus’ disciples asked Him why they could not cast the demon out; after all, they had been able to cast out demons on a recent ministry tour recorded in Mark 6. They were effective then, but not this time. Jesus’ answer was quite simple: “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29). Matthew 17:20 tells us they also had too little faith to take care of this problem, so we have an interesting picture here. Here are disciples who didn’t have enough faith in Jesus, and who apparently tried to cast out a demon without praying. What creates that kind of combination? 

Here’s my guess: the disciples, who had been successful previously, assumed they would be successful this time, too. They were doing today’s spiritual warfare on the basis of yesterday’s power; they assumed yesterday’s victory guaranteed today’s win, too.  And, when you assume you already have the power you need, you really don’t need much faith in Jesus in the first place. Why do you need faith when you can do it all anyway?  

Needless to say, this story is in indictment to all of us who tend to operate in our own strength. We think we can do it all today because of God’s power in our life yesterday, and we fail to take up our cross and seek His power this day. Then, we don’t realize how foolish and powerless we really are until we come face-to-face with the devil.  


  • Determine whether you’re operating in God’s power or your own power today.               
  • Try to answer this question: if you faced a demon possessed person today, would you be so empowered by God that the demon would flee?     

PRAYER: “God, I operate in my own strength too much. Please forgive me.”