by Anthony Oliphant
We have a God who speaks. He created the heavens and the earth by speaking. He desires communication with His creation. Therefore, one of the gifts He has bestowed on mankind is the gift of speech, of communication. And that’s what makes being unable to communicate so tragic. It isolates us from each other and from God.
In Mark 9:17, a man brought his son to Jesus’ disciples to see if they could cast out an unclean spirit that was making him mute—unable to speak. This cruel demon threw the boy onto the ground with convulsions. It would cast him into fire and water in an effort to kill him. And through all of this the boy was unable to say a word. He was stricken silent, left to suffer this unimaginable agony in lonely silence.
This demonic silence may seem very foreign to us at first. But is it? Aren’t there times that we’re also rendered as silent as the afflicted boy? Sometimes it seems as if there’s something outside of us holding us back from talking. As soon as that topic comes up—and it may be different for each of us—all of a sudden, we’re mute. We just can’t talk about certain things.
Very often, we’re held in silence over past sins. Our guilt gags us so that we can barely even think about what we’ve done, let alone talk about it. Sins committed against us have the same silencing effect. The shame smeared on us because of someone’s words or deeds against us reappears with the slightest memory so that our mouths are stopped. Whether it’s our own guilty past or scars from others we often find ourselves unable to speak.
At the heart of it, what causes this silence in us is no different than what caused the boy’s silence. It’s the devil and his demons that keep us silent too. When your past floats up to haunt you, it’s then that the devil whispers, “Can God really forgive that?” And just like that, he silences us. We feel too unclean to pray; too guilty to speak about it. When we remember evil committed against us, the demons shut our mouths, saying: “No one wants to hear about that.” We need someone to give us back our voice so that we can talk again—talk to God, to our family, our friends, our pastors. We need to speak.
He wants us to speak, out in the open, to release into the open air those trespasses that need our heavenly Father’s forgiveness. We also need a voice to speak forgiveness to those who trespass against us. When we admit our sins before God, when we take advantage of the great gift of confession and absolution, this is nothing less than a cry for mercy, similar to the cry of the boy’s father to help him and his son. Confession is finding our voice. It’s casting those sins and shame out, the same way that the unclean mute spirit was cast out of the boy. We’re forgiven for those things we’ve done, those things we confess. We’re washed clean of those things done to us. That forgiveness we’ve received fills us and overflows to others. We’re restored, made whole, the same way that the afflicted boy was restored and made whole.
Jesus hears our cry for compassion. He went to the cross to make Himself the target of the devil and all his demons, the target of every evil that sinful man could imagine, the target of God’s own wrath against every sin. Jesus removed your sin. When He removed your sin, He also removed your shame and your guilt. He restores your voice. He fights the demons and their unholy silence for you. He hears your confession. He answers your prayer. He gives you His own Word to confess. He restores your voice to speak in faith toward Him and in love toward one another.