Imagine you had once looked upon the unvarnished glory of God—not with human eyes, but with angelic ones. You were one of the angels who could dwell in the direct presence of God without being burnt up by His light, power, and glory.
For whatever reason, you followed Satan and joined in a rebellion against God. You lost and were cast out of God’s presence, no longer able to sit in His glory. After the initial shock of your defeat wore off, imagine how bitter you’d be about what you had forfeited. “I used to be able to wait on Him, to worship Him, to see Him, and now I live in darkness, forbidden to look on His face?”
How much would you hate Satan, the ringleader who led you into such misery?
But still, you have a job to do, so you torment a first century man and turn him against his family and community. You make him violent, unpredictable, and scary. You are bitter and angry, and so you derive a pathetic pleasure from turning this man from love. He is marked by hatred and fear, the same hatred and fear that has driven you for thousands of years. You used to join in joyous, rich, encouraging, and intimate fellowship with like-minded angels in heavenly worship as you bathed in God’s light, but now you’re joined in a merciless war against people, with a group of like-minded devils inhabiting a grubby, loathsome man who terrorizes everyone around him.
How far you have fallen, indeed.
But you’re not done falling yet.
In the distance, you see Jesus, and you know He’s the Son of God. Foolish mortals may mistake Him as simply being a prophet while ambitious and jealous men might label him as a false teacher to serve their own ends, but you who once stood in the presence of God know truth, power, love, and glory when you see it. And you know you’re defeated. Even if your company name is “legion” (many), there aren’t enough of you in existence to withstand the power of this one solitary life. You found that out the hard way long ago.
You and your cohorts know you can’t keep terrorizing and using this man any longer because Jesus won’t let you. So what do you ask for? What is your wish? You who used to dwell in the heavenlies, who then were cast into the darkness and finally are living in the pathetic swamp of a toxic man, what’s your next best hope? What do you plead with Jesus to allow you to do?
“Send us to the pigs” (Mark 5:12).
If you look it up in the Bible, these demons “begged” Jesus to send them into the pigs! Please, please, pretty please! We used to live in the heavenlies and messed that up. We lived in a man and messed him up. So now just send us into pigs—pigs!—and we’ll kill them as well.
Can you imagine begging to inhabit a pig with the intent to kill it? What a sad ambition! What a pathetic fall from grace. Do these demons ever think of what they were and compare that to what they have become, and shudder?
But this story isn’t just about pigs and demons as much as it’s about us.
Have you beheld the glory of God, bathed in the love, compassion, and grace of God, and yet slowly slid away to become a person who brings judgment instead of encouragement; division instead of unity; casts shame instead of blessing; steals, murders, and destroys instead of bringing life?
Do you take glee from making someone feel small? Do you have a perverse pleasure in making others—maybe even your family members, maybe even your children—feel afraid of you?
Wake up! Look at how far you’ve fallen and know you may not be done falling yet! If angels can go from rejecting the presence of God to desiring the filth of a pig, don’t think you, who have seen much less, can stop your fall at any given point.
When we leave love, when we stop cleaving to the truth, when we reject peace, we become, more and more, people of hatred, lies, and discord. It is the ugly degradation of sin whose slope isn’t just slippery, it’s more like a cascading waterfall, and the story of its inexorable advance predates human existence.
“Send us into the pigs.”
Do you crave what you once despised? Have you become the kind of person you used to think was pathetic? Is your highest hope now something that is disgusting and beneath a person who was created in the image of God?
Do you who once reveled in God’s presence during sweet times of worship, now thirst after the darkest places of the internet for escape? Do you, who have heard God’s comforting, affirming words of love and forgiveness, use your tongue to demean and destroy? Do you take your hands, similar to the hands of Jesus that He let be pierced for our salvation, and ball them into a fist to make someone hurt or be afraid?
“Send us into the pigs.”
Have you gone from reveling in the joys of heaven and the work of God to lusting after terrorizing a pig and serving the cause of Satan?
If so, there is hope, and it’s found in a parable told by Jesus that also involves pigs. In this case, it’s about a prodigal son who envied the pigs for their food. The inexorable slide of sin is seen in stark relief when Jesus describes the son of a rich father, once clothed in luxury, who grew up eating delicacies, but then leaves his father and becomes so poor, abandoned and hungry that he ends up envying pigs.
What did this son say and do? When he recognized his condition he said, “I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant’” (Luke 15:18-19).
Jesus’ point in this part of the parable is clear: the Father will always take you back.
Go home. Turn back to the light. Turn back to God. Plead not to go into a pig but into the service of your Heavenly Father. He’ll take you back. He’ll lift you up from wherever you have fallen.
You don’t have to keep falling further and further from God and those you once loved. Look up and behold the glory of God.
Demons don’t appear to get a second chance, but because of Christ, we do. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
There’s a woman who lived the same journey as the prodigal son. Mary of Magdala once had seven demons come out of her. After Jesus healed her, she became one of the leading lights and one of the most powerful and influential leaders in the early church. While Jesus walked on this earth Mary of Magdala went from being possessed by Satan’s servants to supporting Jesus out of her own purse (Luke 8:1-3). In her prior days she brought darkness and hate everywhere she went; now she was spreading the Light of life for all humans.
We can go from darkness to light, but the journey is fluid. In today’s Christian world we so focus on that one-time decision, but I’ve been alive too long and have witnessed too many stories to believe our life’s aim is decided in one single choice. Far more often, it’s subtle shifts in our thinking and direction that eventually and oftentimes slowly lead us to places we never could have imagined—both good (Mary of Magdala, the prodigal son) and bad (angels begging to enter pigs), depending on the direction of those shifts.
To drift from love, by definition, is to drift toward hate. Wherever you are not for God, you are against Him (Matt. 12:30).
Which direction are you drifting toward today?