Grace For The Journey
We are studying our way through the Gospel of Luke. The best way to learn the Word of God is book by book, chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, verse by verse. When we preaching and study the Bible this way we are far less likely to take verses out of context and make them say things God did not intend them to say. Studying and preaching verse by verse, allows God to determine the subject each week rather than the preacher determining the subject which means we are far more likely to be God-centered in our worship and life rather than we are to be man-centered. This will produce authentic God-centered lives that lead to God getting all the praise and glory.
We pick up this morning at verse 14 and we learn today about Jesus’ casting a demon out of man who was unable to speak and the ensuing conversation that follows, a conversation between Jesus and some unbelievers. I wonder whether you believe in Jesus and whether you believe in demons. Why does God preserve this historical incident in Scripture?
In verse 20, Jesus says, “If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Today most people are familiar with the widely popular film series, The Chronicles of Narnia. But not enough people know that the writer of the novels upon which those movies were based was a Christian who wrote a number of great books on the Christian faith. C.S. Lews, the writer of the books known collectively as The Chronicles of Narnia, wrote one particular book about demons and demonology. I have a copy in my library. It is called The Screwtape Letters. This book is a series of imaginary letters written from an older experienced demon named Screwtape. He is writing to his young nephew, an inexperienced demon named Wormwood. Screwtape is advising his young nephew on how best to tempt a particular man known only as “the Patient.” When you read the book, you get a sense that this really seems to be the way demons operate today. I think the book is much better than most of the popular books on the subject and I think you will enjoy reading it or re-reading as it has been awhile.
I mention it this because in the preface of Lewis’ book, he makes a statement that bears repeating in light of our text today. I have asked you whether you believe in demons. Some of us may not believe in demons and some of us may believe in demons far too much. Let me quote Lewis from the preface. He writes, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which we can fall about the study of demons. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. The demons themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”
If you have an excessive interest in demons that pleases them greatly. They would love to take you away from studying the things of God that you may study the things of Satan. If, on the other hand, you say, “Of course I don’t believe in demons, how silly! How absurd, inane, and childish!” That position also pleases demons. They would love for you to think demons are all a bunch of hocus-pocus or that these early Christians were somehow just naïve, unschooled, and ignorant people who frequently mistook mere physical maladies for supernatural manifestations of the evil one. In either case, the demons are pleased, and they sneer.
Most of us take the Bible as God’s inerrant Word and we seek to interpret it in a plain, straightforward manner and so, because the Bible teaches about this subject, we believe in demons. They really existed in the day of Jesus, and they really exist today. Just as certain as there is a God who is holy, there is a Devil who is not. Just as certain as there are angels of light who work for God so are there angels of darkness who work for Satan.
But what we absolutely must understand about demonology, the study of demons, is that Satan is operating as a defeated foe. Jesus says in verse 20, “If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you,” and what He is saying is that the presence and power of God has come. That is what “the finger of God” means there in verse 20. It stands for “the power of God.” This phrase describes God’s writing the 10 Commandments into stone in Exodus 31:18. The tablets of stone were written with “the finger of God.” God’s presence and power has come; the kingdom of God has broken into this world through the coming of Jesus Christ. Remember that when we speak of the “kingdom of God” we are speaking about a kingdom that has come already in part, and will come later in full. The kingdom is both “now” and “not yet.” The kingdom has come already in part and at least one evidence of God’s kingdom having come in part is Jesus’ ability to cast out demons. That is what Jesus says in verse 20. Verse 20 is the most important verse in our passage.
Today we will study about this power of God that comes with the kingdom of God breaking into this fallen world, ushering in the Gospel and salvation through Christ Jesus and what this power means to you and me. This is so important because this power of God is power to change your life.
Our study will helps answer three questions about how God brings real change in our lives through Jesus Christ . . .
1) Do I Believe Jesus Christ is Lord? Verses 14-23.
Or, to put it another way, “Do I Believe God has all authority over me?” We read in verse 14 that Jesus was casting out this demon and the Bible says “it was mute,” that is, “it caused muteness.” It caused this man to be unable to speak. Jesus casts the demon out of the man and the man begins to speak to the amazement of the crowd. But some, verse 15 says, were skeptical. Matthew, in his Gospel, identifies these people as Pharisees. These guys are skeptical, and they accuse Jesus of being in league with the devil. Their charge is that Jesus is working in collusion with Satan. They say that Jesus can cast out demons because Jesus is on the same team as the prince of demons. That is the meaning behind this charge in verses 15, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons.” Beelzebub is another name for Satan.
Verse 16 is kind of funny because it says, “Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.” Some in the crowd believed Jesus really cast out a demon but said He was working in concert with Satan, but others in the crowd were like, “Yeah, He cast a demon out, but that’s not enough for us to really believe in Him.” But I love verse 17! Don’t let it get by you too quickly. How does it begin? “But He, knowing their thoughts.” Do you know my thoughts? Do I know yours? No way, right? Okay, but Jesus is God. He knows the thoughts of man. He can read our minds. Jesus knows what they are thinking and He speaks to these skeptics.
Jesus listens to the thoughts of these skeptics who think He is working on the same team as Satan and He speaks to their thoughts. What He says is pure, simple, and beautifully logical. He says to them, “Look, a kingdom or a house that is divided against itself will fall.” It is like a country divided against itself through civil war. Division leads to destruction. Jesus says, “If I were on the same team as Satan then Satan would be divided against himself.” That does not make any sense. Jesus adds another point to His defense. He says in verse 19. “And If cast out demons by Beelzebub (by Satan), by whom do your sons cast them out?” The word “sons” there is understood as “followers.” Jesus says, “By whom do your followers cast out demons?”
Many of the Jews also practiced the casting out of demons. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests they were ever successful, but non-Christian writers like the historian Josephus wrote in his work, Antiquities of the Jews, that there were these certain rituals Jews were to follow in attempting to cast out evil spirits. Jesus says, “Hey, if I am working in league with Satan then I guess your followers are also working in league with Satan.” But of course, Jesus is not working in league with Satan and so He makes this statement in verse 20 we have identified as the key verse to this passage. He says in verse 20, “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
The kingdom of God has come! We spoke of this in the last chapter, In Luke 10:18 Jesus comments on the missional work of the returning 70 disciples. Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” As quickly as lighting appears in the sky so quickly was the sign that Satan was being defeated. In one sense, Satan has held the world in his grip ever since Genesis 3 when the Fall of Man occurred. Adam and Eve sinned, and everything began to spin off balance. Sin entered the world. But Jesus Christ has now come, and the kingdom of God begins for those who enter into it. We enter into it by surrendering to Christ as Lord. The kingdom of God breaks into this fallen world to rescue men and women who are held in bondage to sin and the devil.
Jesus goes on to illustrate the truth that the kingdom of God has come, that He Himself has entered into enemy-occupied territory and is now defeating Satan. Jesus says in verse 21, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.” The “strong man” guarding his palace is Satan. Jesus goes on to say in verse 22, “But when a stronger than he comes” – a stronger one than Satan, then this One “overcomes” the other, taking from him “all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.” In essence, Jesus says, “I am not working on the same team as Satan. I am utterly obliterating Team Satan! I am annihilating Team Satan. I am overtaking Team Satan.”
It is interesting what Jesus says here – He has entered into enemy-occupied territory, a world under the rule of Satan and He overcomes the enemy. He strikes a blow at Satan and takes away what was once in his hands. Jesus is plundering Satan’s kingdom by taking people away from him and transferring them into His own kingdom.
And Jesus says you are either on one side of the battle or the other side of the battle. You and I are either fighting against the enemy or you are fighting with the enemy. This is the meaning of verse 23 where Jesus says, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” You are either on Jesus’ team or Satan’s team. You say, “Well, I’m on neither team, thank you very much.” Jesus has not left you that option. There’s no neutral position. There is no in-between. Either we believe Jesus has all power and we submit ourselves to His Lordship over our lives, or Jesus says we are “against Him” and rather than “gathering” with Him, we are “scattering,” we are working against Jesus. We are still in enemy-occupied territory, under the control of the evil one. There is no neutral, comfortably in-between position. You are either under the rule of Satan or the rule of Jesus Christ.
The first crucial question is, “Do I believe Jesus Christ is Lord,” which is to say, “Do you believe Jesus Christ has all power over you?” You have got to believe that to be saved from enemy-occupied territory. You have got to believe in Christ to be saved from sin and Satan’s power. If you and I transfer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light then we avail ourselves to Christ’s power in our lives. If Jesus has all power over Satan, He has all power over everything and that same power works in your life and mine, power to change your life.
- Power to save you from sin, shame, and guilt.
- Power to cleanse you from sin and clothe you in Christ’s righteousness.
- Power to make you stand safely before God on the day of judgment.
- Power to change your ways.
- Power to save your marriage.
- Power to give you meaning and purpose.
- Power to overcome depression and discontentment.
The kingdom of God has broken into this sin-cursed world, but you have to cross over into this kingdom. You have to leave the team of the enemy and enter the ranks of Team Jesus. This comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And you must come all the way. There is no in-between. When you become a Christian, you enter into the kingdom of God, a kingdom that has come in part, and one day will come in full. When that day comes what a joy it will be! We will enter into the final state of glory where there is no more sin, sorrow, or sickness.
With that in mind comes Question Number Two . . .
2) Have I Experienced True Conversion? Verses 24-26.
Or put another way, “Have I gone further than merely ‘Cleaning up My Act.’” Imagine thinking you had escaped enemy-occupied territory, but then discover you are still in it. How scary that would be! You think you are safe, but soon discover you are in real danger because you have not crossed over to the winning side. This is what Jesus teaches in verses 24 to 26, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
Jesus teaches here what true conversion looks like
And He teaches that it is more than just our
“Cleaning up our act,” which is how many people
Wrongly think of how we get right with God.
True salvation is more than just trying to do what is right and removing what is bad. If that is what we are doing then we are like a guy who has swept away all the bad from his life, but never fills Himself with Christ. He is like a guy who just reforms his behavior and says, “I am going to start living right and I am going to start keeping the 10 Commandments and so forth so that God will accept me.”
Jesus says that is like a guy who “sweeps out” his life, and everything is placed in order. He is a good neighbor. He’s a fair businessman. She gives money to the poor and is kind to the children. He is morally upright. Jesus teaches that the enemy loves a person like this. Satan and his minions love to find people who have merely “cleaned up their act,” religious people, moral people, good people – lost people. Verse 26 says that an unclean spirit “takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” What a scary thing to think that you were safely on the winning side of the battle when you were actually on the losing side.
Have you experienced true conversion? Do you realize that being a Christian is more than just “cleaning up your act?” In spiritual conversation with our friends, family, and strangers, let’s not be satisfied with those who say they know there is a God up there somewhere and so they are living their lives as good people hoping to go to heaven one day. You can be a good person and die and go to hell.
True conversion is not found in reforming
Our behavior and trying to live right.
True conversion is actively and decisively
Leaving the side of the enemy and crossing
Over into the kingdom of God.
We enter into the kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ. It does not happen automatically, and it does not come with our attempts to clean up our lives.
Salvation comes when we humbly bow before God
And admit our sins and repent, turning from our sin,
Turning away from going our way
And surrender to Christ as Lord.
This helps us understand why some who seem to have professed faith in Christ later fall away. They joined a church. They were baptized. But later they fall away and go back to their old ways. What happened? They were like a man who swept his house. They cleaned up a little here and a little there. They felt they had reformed their behavior and got a bit of religion, too. Everything is clean and put in order. But you see they never really entered into the kingdom of God. An unclean spirit returns with a bunch of other unclean spirits so that, the last part of verse 26 says, “and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” It is worse because this man thought he was okay before God but he was not. He was never truly saved to begin with and how difficult it is now to get him to see this.
Hear again these words: Have you experienced true conversion? Has there been a time in your life where you humbly bowed before God, seeking nothing more than the salvation of your soul and rescue from the enemy? If so, one of the evidences will be your love for God’s Word.
Question 3 . . .
3) Do I Love To Hear And Keep The Word? Verses 27-28.
Or to put another way, “Do I have an interest in and hunger for the Bible?” Verses 27 and 28 say, “And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You! But He said, ‘More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’”
Here is a woman who is listening to Jesus share these words about God’s kingdom and power and true salvation and she is overcome with joy. She marvels at what it would be like to be tied to Christ through familial means, to be related to Him physically, to be His mother. She cries out, “Blessed is your mother!” That of course is the meaning behind these words in verse 27, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You.” What a blessing it would be to be Your very mother! Jesus responds in verse 28 with, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” The first time I read this I thought Jesus was sort of reprimanding this woman or reproving her. But . . .
Jesus does not reprove her statement;
But rather He improves her statement.
A paraphrase might be, “You have spoken the truth about my mother, but her blessedness does not consist simply in her relationship with Me; her blessedness consists in the fact that she heard the Word of God and kept it, which is where true blessedness is found.”
Think of this! Jesus says that to hear the Word of God and then keep the Word of God is a greater blessing than to be tied to Jesus by family. You see how important it is to hear the Word of God and keep it? This is why we make so much of the Bible here at our church. We want people to fall in love with the Lord and His Word. Jesus says, “Blessed are you when you hear the Word of God and keep it.” If you have been born again, you have a natural desire to hear the Word of God and obey it. If you find the Bible boring, that should be a cause of great alarm and concern for your soul. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.
This is the answer to the question, “How can I experience God’s power in my life!” It comes from hearing the Word of God and living by it. You cannot be blessed by just attending church services or doing things yourself. This is true not only of experiencing God’s power but of enjoying God’s presence. Do you really want to be close to Jesus? Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, blessed to be close to Jesus? Yes! Do want to be closer to Jesus than His own mother? It comes from hearing the Word of God and keeping it.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”