Devotional: ‘A Bad Spirit’


Jesus gave a special nickname to James and his brother John: “The Sons of Thunder.” (see Mark 3:17) It’s unclear what Jesus intended when He called them by this name. Was He being playful and highlighting their aggressive nature, or was He reminding them of how their aggressiveness sometimes got them in trouble? We know three things about James and John –

  1. The Lord chose James and John, being fully aware of their strong personalities.
  2. The Lord used them in a powerful way.
  3. The Lord had to bring their strong personalities under His control.

James and John became great men of God. James was a leader in the early church and eventually gave his life for the cause of Christ. John wrote a gospel which bears his name, as well as three epistles and the magnificent book of Revelation. Great things came from these two young men, once their strength was tamed and brought under the Master’s control. The biblical word ‘meekness’ means: {power under control.} It’s a term sometimes used to describe a wild horse that has been tamed to ride. James and John were two young stallions that had to be broken.

How does God bring a strong spirit under control?

Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

The religious zeal of James and John caused them to become harsh and judgmental. They wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy those who opposed them. Yet Jesus rebuked them for their attitude and spirit. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” This is not to say that Jesus was pleased with the Samaritan’s rejection. The day would come when they would face God’s judgment. But the Son of Man had not come to destroy sinners. He had come to save them. Though God hates mankind’s sin; He loves our soul.

Jesus rebuked James and John for their lack of love. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” In other words, “You don’t realize who it is that is motivating you to think this way. This is not being prompted by the Spirit of God. This is being prompted by the devil.”

Whenever we have a bad spirit we need to stop and ask ourselves: “What it is, or who it is that is causing me to be this way? Is it God, or is it the devil?” James and John were being influenced by the devil without realizing it.

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