Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXXIV: Diagnosing And Overcoming Dependency Upon Self For Ministry Success
(Mark 9:14-29)
  1. Introduction
    1. There are times when the believer is serving God by way of witnessing or ministry in a Church of some sort when he suddenly is confronted with steep challenges and conflicts with others. Where he had once enjoyed succe ss and freedom, he suddenly feels constrained, pressured and threatened. He may wonder why, and what his response should be.
    2. The disciples discovered themselves in a "fix" of this sort in Mark 9:14-18, and the guidance of Christ to them speaks to help us discern what is going on, why, and what the solution should be:
  2. Diagnosing And Overcoming Dependency Upon Self For Ministry Success, Mark 9:14-29.
    1. The disciples experienced sudden upsetting conflict and stalled success in their ministries:
      1. Where the disciples had previously enjoyed great spiritual success in casting out demons (Mark 6:13), they suddenly found themselves unable to exorcise a given demon, Mark 9:14,16-18.
      2. In the process, the scribes were taking advantage of their sudden lack of success, questioning their efforts as they were untrained men whose authority they did not recognize, Mark 9:14b,16.
    2. In reality, Christ's disciples were facing defeat due to depending on themselves instead of the Lord, and in the angelic conflict, the Evil One was taking advantage of their self-help faithlessness to attack t hem:
      1. When they later asked Jesus why they could not exorcise the demon, Jesus explained that such effort needed prayer, or complete dependence upon God for a solution, Mark 9:28-29. The reference to "and fasting" does not appear in important representatives of the Alexandrian, Western and Caesarean text types, explaining that the phrase was added due to the early church's stress on fasting, Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on The Greek New Testament, p. 101.
      2. Since they had failed to trust God, but had come to rely upon their own past successes as though they themselves had the intrinsic power to exorcise demons, they failed upon trying, Mk. 9:18b.
      3. Consequently, Satan had stirred up the godless scribes to confront and argue with the disciples of Jesus over their spiritual defeat in an effort to undermine Christ's ministry by way of proxy, Mk. 9:14,16.
    3. The Solution was for Christ Himself to intervene, Mark 9:15-29:
      1. Jesus came upon the situation in just the nick of time, the matter of the timing of His arrival being noted by the crowds who expressed amazement at that timing, Mark 9:14-15, B.K.C., N.T., p. 144.
      2. When He did, He asked what the argument between the disciples and scribes was all about, Mk. 9:16.
      3. The distressed father of the demoniac explained that his son was horribly possessed and showed his weak faith due to the disciples' failure by asking Jesus to help the boy if He could, Mark 9:17-22.
      4. Jesus accosted the man's weak faith, encouraging him to trust Him before healing the boy, Mk. 9:23-27.
      5. Later, Jesus addressed the disciples, showing that their lack of faith in God caused by a self-help mentality had led to their ministry failures, Mk. 9:28-29.
Lesson: If we suddenly face argumentative human confrontation and loss of spiritual success in serving the Lord, or a growing loss of faith in God by people who are looking to us for help, we are under spiritual attack since Satan sees we vulnerabl e to defeat for depending upon ourselves and not God's spiritual provisions for life and ministry.

Application: (1) When hit like this, IMMEDIATELY go to prayer, (a) confessing self-reliance and (b) asking for divine intervention. (2) Also, review our actions to see if we are using our spiritual gift as we ought in the context of service for power (2 Tim. 1:6-7). (3) Also, see if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing in the discipling process, ministering the Word, etc., cf. 1 Tim. 4:12-16. (4) Also, check to see if we are operating within the chain-of-command as we ought so that God's authority rests in our actions, or if we are doing our own thing in our own power of authority as sitting ducks for defeat, cf. Acts 19:13-16! (5) However, keep in mind that God will always come to our aid in the nick of time so that we can a lways avoid defeat, 1 Cor. 10:13 with Mk. 9:14-15.