Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones…. (Mark 5:5).
The above line describes a demon-possessed man before he encountered Jesus. After he encounters Jesus, the demons are sent into pigs, who run into the sea and drown. In both cases, the demons do what demons do—they steal, kill, and destroy.
Perhaps it has always been this way, but there is a lot of self-harm in our world. Cutting is perhaps one of the most obvious ways we do this, but it is not the only one. Drinking and drug abuse, food addictions, pornography, slavery to the internet and social media, living a sedentary life… all of these things are profoundly harmful. I have heard it said that as much as 70% of the diseases with which modern Western man is afflicted are self-inflicted. In other words, they are a result of things that we can control, but do not.
We are not created with the instinct to self-harm. Rather, we are created with the instinct for life, and for flourishing. From whence then comes this widespread tendency to self-harm?
I do not know many of the subtleties of the relationship between the world, the flesh, and the devil, or even how important it is to be able to distinguish them. But we do know that there is a devil that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, just as he did in the instance of the demon-possessed man. We do well, then, to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, that the devil prowls about like a lion looking for someone to devour, and that Jesus remains the one who destroys his works.