April 14, 2019 | Randy Smith
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
The primary thing that turns so many people off to politics is that it is too political! I think you know what I mean. Both sides of the isle are guilty. I’m confident many elected politicians will oppose what they know to be best for our country simply for the purpose of gaining votes for themselves or refusing to allow their opponent any success.
I’m sure all these folks know the feeling all too well. No matter what they do, regardless of how good the suggestion is, people will find a way to spin it as evil and also demonize the individual him or herself. I submit to you that this mentality is as old as time.
Take Jesus for example. He never committed a sin. He always acted in love, truth and wisdom. Yet no matter what He did or said certain people would only look for reasons to disprove Him.
With the upcoming baptisms our time is limited, but today I would like to show you how our Lord’s opponents found a way to attack our Savior when He did something good. But Jesus responds to these attacks to explain the salvation He brings.
Do you have this salvation in Christ? Verse 23, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” Whose side are you on? And how can you know for certain? Verse 28, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” That’s where we are going this morning.
Two Objections (verses 15–16)
So we see in verse 14 that Jesus cast out a demon. We’ve seen this before. Exorcisms always brought mixed response from the onlookers. Verse 14 informs us that “the crowds were amazed.”
Casting out demons by Satan
Verse 15, “But some of them said, [here is now the first objection] ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’”
So here is where the smear campaign starts. Luke leaves the objecting party undefined. According to Mark and Matthew it was the religious leaders, specifically the Scribes and Pharisees. They did not like the fact that Jesus’ teaching on grace contradicted their teaching on works. They were infuriated that He did not honor their man-made traditions. They were troubled that He ate with sinners. They were convicted that He was a better person. But mostly, they were jealous that Jesus was stealing their crowds and popularity.
Now it is interesting here that His opponents do not deny that a miracle took place. They can’t discount the reality of the exorcism. What they do is they attribute Jesus’ power not to God, but rather Beelzebul, Satan. As they said (verse 15), “He casts out demons by the ruler of demons.” This gives you an indication how much they hated Jesus.
Demanding a sign
The second objection is found in verse 16. “Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.”
So some said His power is from Satan. Discrediting Jesus altogether. Invalidating any reason for faith in Him. Others demanded a sign in order for Him to be worthy of their faith. In other words, “Not bad, Jesus. Yet, what else can you do? Give us something really impressive. You ever hear of the Exodus. Call down fire from heaven and then we’ll possibly believe.” It was the same mentality seen later at Calvary “Let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him” (Mt. 27:42).
So two objections: One attributing God’s work to Satan and the other acting like Satan, testing Jesus just like the devil did in the wilderness.
Two Explanations (verses 17–19)
As we go to the second point, we see our Lord is so amazingly dignified in His response to His critics. God will never stoop to man’s demands. He will not allow others to control His actions. He will never coerce faith or beg for our approval. He is God and He will reveal Himself in such a way that all of us are without excuse (we do not need any more “signs”) if we choose to reject Him. As a matter of fact, He will even use our evil to bring glory to Himself as we see right here.
A kingdom divided
So how does Jesus respond to these two accusations? He provides two explanations that highlight their folly and magnify His glory.
So the opponents claim He casts out Satan by Satan. Think about that for a minute. Satan is performing exorcisms. Really?
Verse 17, “But He knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.’” Verse 18, “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.”
Let’s just consider the mind that is anti-God. Are you telling me everything around us, the amazing diversity, detail and beauty of this planet just evolved? The planet that can sustain its inhabitants with the right temperature and resources. The human body that is far complex beyond our understanding. Without God you have to agree with the main philosophers and psychologists that life is meaningless. It has no purpose or its purpose is whatever you choose to believe. No truth? No absolutes? No explanation for evil? No eternity? And this is what the majority of people believe! The Bible says this is foolishness – just like the Pharisee’s response from verse 15.
Listen, why in the world would Satan empower Jesus to destroy Satan’s kingdom? If we can all agree that a divided home or church or kingdom will not survive, why in the world would Satan desire to divide his kingdom? A sane person wouldn’t do that. And Satan far exceeds us in intelligence. He’s got a plan and He’s not about to willingly destroy his own work.
Second, Verse 19, “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges.”
In other words, if the Jewish leaders claimed to cast out demons successfully (which is debatable – Ac. 19:13-17), by whose power do they operate? The leader’ inconsistency will come back in their judgment.
Four Principles (verses 20–26)
So now as we move to the third point, Jesus uses this occasion to present four principles. We would be wise to heed these!
The Kingdom of God
The first is seen in verse 20. “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Last week Shane and I were watching the first Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis in his classic book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” did an excellent job illustrating the clash between two kingdoms. One kingdom is ruled by evil dominated by greed, wickedness and death. The other is ruled by righteousness and its subjects enjoy peace, freedom and life. And as it’s depicted in Narnia, there is nothing we can do to defeat evil. The only hope is redemption through a sacrifice of one greater than us, even greater than the wicked king.
Likewise, because of our sin we are born in a kingdom of darkness – a kingdom of evil, decay and death. Creation groans. Paul in Galatians called it “this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4), one from which we need to be rescued. The “ruler of this world” is Satan. We are in bondage to his cruel reign. We need the true King to overcome Him. We need the true King to pay the penalty for our sin. We need the true King to establish His kingdom. We pray, as we learned in verse 2, “Your kingdom come.”
And in a sense, His kingdom has come. Our Lord’s first words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). John the Baptist prepared the way. The King arrived. And the King immediately began dismantling Satan’s kingdom. How? Verse 20, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” One day, still in the future, the kingdom will be visibly seen when every knee will bow. But now it’s coming in stages. Exorcisms. Then the cross. Then Jesus presently reigning as Lord in the hearts of His people through the Holy Spirit.
Plundering the Strong Man
One stronger than Satan is here and He is plundering his house. Verse 21-22, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.”
All in for Christ
And therefore since there are two diametrically opposed kingdoms and two diametrically opposed kings, all humans need to ask themselves which kingdom do you identify with?
Do you want to be in the kingdom that has temporary highs, approval from the world, alignment with Hollywood, glorification of self, success at any cost, no accountability – from the false king that promises everything, but delivers only heartache and consequences? Then Satan is your king, this is your home and his kingdom is your life.
Or do you want true internal peace, the hope of heaven, God’s approval, joy beyond circumstances, meaningful worship of one greater than yourself –from the King that promises the best and delivers on every promise? Then Jesus is your king, this is not your home and His kingdom is your world.
Whose kingdom do you belong to? Who is your king? Darkness verses light. Weak verses power. Lies verses truth. Hopelessness verses hope. Death verses life. Losing verses winning.
In this account we see a variety of responses toward the exorcisms. When it comes to these two kingdoms there is no middle ground. You are either all in or all out. Verse 23, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” Any attempt to compromise only scatters the sheep.
And last one here. Verses 24-26, “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
This is such an incredible verse. Often so misunderstood, but I believe fairly clear when we keep things in context. Biblically speaking, the overwhelming percent of humanity is in Satan’s kingdom. We all know most people are deceived. After all, how many would willingly say they love Satan and want to be associated with his lies now and eternal future then? Of course Satan knows this too. So in his craftiness “the angel of light” deceives people to pursue morality and goodness and religion. According to him, they can have all of these so long as they don’t have Jesus.
So based on their religious practices and self-reform and good deeds, they clean up their lives. They become what we might call “good people.” They are not “satanic” and compared to all those bad people out there they would consider themselves a lock for heaven. They even go to church every Sunday. As we see in verse 25, they sweep up their house and put it in order.
But since Christ is never received as their Lord and thus never enters their life, they only create a vacuum which demons use in greater power. It’s only the empty house that invites squatters. They are worse off than the beginning (verse 26) because before they knew they were bad deserving judgment, but now they think they are good deserving God’s favor. There is greater deception and thus less hope for salvation. Satan is a mastermind.
One Conclusion (27–28)
So last point and we’ll then move to our baptisms. How can you know if Christ truly dwells within your heart? How can you know if you are in Christ’s kingdom?
Those truly blessed
Verses 27-28, “While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.’ But He said, ‘On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.””
There it is. God’s true people show themselves in be in Christ’s kingdom because they acknowledge Christ as their King. They enjoy and are hungry to hear what He says in the Bible. And then once they hear it, they have the desire and ability to obey it. So while our Lord was under attack from His foes, He acknowledged not Mary (as blessed as she was), but all people like Mary who hear and do what He says. People who listen to and obey the King!
So a few weeks ago we learned about Mary and Martha. Mary was blessed because her focus was on the Word of God. The last two weeks we saw the blessing on the one who is committed to prayer. The Bible and prayer (our last three sermons). What comes next? Today’s passage. Enter Satan this week. He does not mind religion (make them all Pharisees!), but He does fear our Bible reading and prayer more than anything else. How does it all conclude this week? How do we overcome Satan? How do we demonstrate who our king is and which kingdom we belong to? By showing your loyalty to Jesus, by learning and obeying what He desires from the Bible. By showing that King Jesus has truly set-up His kingdom in our hearts.