A House Divided

Matthew 12:22-30; 43-45

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, 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. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.

The man brought to Jesus.  Family or friends cared enough to bring him.  How desperately some people need family and friends who care enough to help them. Jesus had compassion on the most evil, on a man thought to be so evil that he was “possessed with a devil.”

Jesus has power “to deliver and heal” immediately.  The one necessity is coming or being brought to Him.

Jesus’ purpose on earth was to conquer Satan and break his power over men.  In some cases Satan’s power was imagined; in other cases it was real.

Men without Christ are “dumb and blind” to the things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 – But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Unbelief

Questioning His Messiahship.  Why are some minds and hearts open and others closed to Christ?  Too often the difference has to do with peer acceptance, reputation, pride, wealth, possessions, fame, power, livelihood, position.

1 John 2:15-16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

Obstinate unbelief is serious.  In every generation there are those who cling to their unbelief despite witness after witness.  The evidence of the Lord’s presence is there, yet they still persist in unbelief.  They attribute any change in natural events to a fluke in nature or to an unexplainable and yet unknown or undiscovered cause.  They will attribute the unexplained to anything just to keep from having to confess Christ and to surrender themselves to Him.

Divided Allegiance

Division = Separation and Sin.  The first argument is that a divided allegiance destroys.  This is a universal truth.  Division leads to separation and ruin.  A divided kingdom, city or house cannot stand.  It fights and destroys itself.  Satan is not going to empower anyone to deliver people from evil–not time after time as Jesus was doing.  Satan would destroy his kingdom and rule over lives.  Jesus was arguing that it was an absolute impossibility that He had come from anywhere other than from God Himself. 

Denial of His Lordship is inconsistent and illogical.  Jesus was saying that to deny Him was inconsistent and illogical.  The good works of other men were acknowledged, yet His good works were denied and attributed to evil.  His works were the greatest works ever performed for men, and they far outnumbered the works of any man (John 21:25).  How could His power and His works be of evil and the works of others be of good?  His works were bound to be of God. 

John 21:25 – And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Christ’s works are signs of His Messiahship.  There is only one logical and consistent conclusion:  His works are of the Spirit of God.  His claim is true.  He is the Messiah.  His works are a sign that God’s Spirit rests upon Him and that God’s kingdom has come to man. 

John 5:36 – But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John 10:37-38 – If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.

John 14:10-11 – Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

John 15:24 – If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.

Christ Destroys Satan.  This passage states that property can be taken.  Satan is the strong man; Christ is the invader who enters Satan’s house to free those imprisoned by Satan.  He is entering the “evil house” or domain (territory) of Satan and taking his (human) goods.  He is turning men “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin” (Acts 26:18).  God “delivers us from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

Satan – a strong man

Satan bound in the wilderness.  Satan was bound during Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness.  For the first time in history, Satan confronted Someone whom he could not lead away from God.  After the wilderness experience Satan was set back.  His power shaken.  The man Christ Jesus had withstood the heaviest barrage of temptation ever launched. 

1 John 3:8 – He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Satan bound by Christ’s sinless life.  Satan was bound even more as he confronted Jesus throughout His life with temptation after temptation.  Jesus stood fast, resisted and overcame the temptations, conquering and binding Satan more and more each time.

John 8:46 – Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?

Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 7:26 – For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;

Satan bound in the garden dramatically after Jesus’ Garden of Gethsemane experience.  Jesus was tempted to take another route other than the cross, yet He obeyed God perfectly.

Hebrews 12:3-4 – For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Satan bound when Christ went to the cross.  Satan was bound in a completed sense at the cross.  Christ had secured perfect righteousness.  He had never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:1).  Therefore He was the Ideal Man, the Perfect Man.  As the Ideal Man His righteousness and death could stand for and embrace all men who would place their lives into His keeping.  Satan’s house of evil and sin was broken, completely broken.

John 14:30 – I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Satan will be bound forever at the end of time.  Both the earth and the heavens shall be made a new and established forever in perfection—established without Satan and his “evil house” carrying on their evil work.  (2 Peter 3:3-18).

2 Thessalonians 2:8 – And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

Revelation 20:10 – The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

No Neutral Ground.  A person is either with Christ or against Christ.  This could be a picture of a shepherd or a farmer.  Each is involved in gathering–the one gathering sheep and the other gathering the harvest.  Each also can become guilty of scattering–the one scattering the sheep and the other scattering the harvest.

Working in the Kingdom

Standing with Him – A person stands with Him, believing and trusting Him, or else a person stands against Him in unbelief and distrust.

Mark 9:40 – For he who is not against us is on our side.

Luke 11:23 – He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Working for Him.  A person works with Him in gathering, or else works against him by scattering others.

No neutrality.  Neutrality is impossible.  There are only two sides:  with Christ or against Christ.

Luke 16:13 – No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Refraining from evil is not enough

Deuteronomy 30:15, 19 – See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

Evil Spirits Return When the House Has a New Tenant

Evil spirit wanders.  The evil spirit that was in man and has been put aside seeks rest, but finds none.  Man’s evil spirit, when it is subdued or cast aside, becomes restless.  It goes about in restless wanderings, yet it finds no rest.

Man’s desires.  A man always experiences the craving of the evil to return.  The evil spirit says, “I will return.”  Note the words “Into my house.”  His house was the place that was so comfortable, that made him feel so secure and so at east.  The evil spirit is saying, “I will return to that which always looked so good and tasted so good and made me feel so good.”

The Solution

Fill your life with Christ.  Note that Jesus applies the truth of this parable not only to individuals, but to whole generations and societies as well.  The answer to the evil and ills of society is not reformation.

The answer is not the changing of the outside and external. The answer is not making new resolution. The answer is not cleaning up your act. The answer is not getting new friends. The answer is not changing jobs. The answer is the transformation of one’s heart. It is the filling of the human heart with Christ Himself.

Galatians 4:8-10 – But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years.

2 Peter 2:20-21 – For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:13; Revelation 2:4

Evil can be conqueredIt can be expelled, it can be pushed back, it can be cast out of our lives; but it cannot be destroyed or eliminated–not in this life.  Evil, although it can be put out of a life and turned from, will always attack.  What is needed is a supernatural power to turn from evil.  That power is in Jesus Christ. 

Jesus Christ must dwell in you.  When evil is put out of a life, something must be put in its place.  What?  Jesus Christ.  The love of Christ and His mission of redemption is to fill a man’s heart and life.  Take all the acts of love and caring–a man cannot touch even the surface during a lifetime.  The world is so weighed down with prejudice, war, wickedness, selfishness, pride and power; and so many people are so needful.  A man must cast the evil out of his life and replace it with Christ.  When a man gives his life to Christ, he is swamped with so much to do that he does not have time to think evil or do evil.

What If I Doubt?

Mark 16::14-18

“The Great Commission” – Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Before sending out the disciples to share the Gospel, Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.  In order to be obedient they needed to have a firm belief in the resurrection of Jesus. 

In Scripture the heart is used often to describe the whole person – the place where a person thinks, feels, and plans.  To have a heart that is hard is to ignore, reject, refuse to believe in God’s Word. 

Unbelief hinders obedience.  Jesus is not limited by unbelief as some teach. They refer to the scripture where it says He could not do mighty works in Nazareth, his hometown, because of their unbelief.

 Yet we see many times when Jesus perform miracles in spite of lack of faith. 

Martha lacked belief that Jesus could raise Lazarus, yet he did.  We see one father who brought his son to Jesus for healing and asked for help with his unbelief. 

Mark 9:23-24 – Jesus said to him, “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Jesus did not mighty works in Nazareth not because their unbelief weakened or destroyed His power.  One of the main purposes of Jesus’ miracles was to bear witness to His claim to be the Son of God.  Since the people of Nazareth had rejected him, there was nothing He could do to make them believe.  They had hardened their hearts against the very revelation they needed. 

John Calvin says, ” Unbelievers, as far as lies in their power, bind up the hands of God by their obstinacy; not that God is overcome, as if he were an inferior, but because they do not permit him to display his power.”

 So when one refuses to even entertain the thought of a miracle or of the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God, one has hardened their heart.

I am so thankful that while Jesus rebuked them, He clearly reached out to them and gave them proof of His resurrection.

First, to Thomas.

The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

To many others

1 Corinthians 15:5-6 – He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

They clearly saw and believed Jesus was alive!  And thankfully they were then able to obey the Great Commission so that today we have the truth.

So what do you do if you have sometimes have doubt?  Do as the father did who brought his child to God.  Confess you struggle to believe.  Be honest with God.  This idea that we cannot express doubt or God will not hear us is so wrong.

He knows our heart, He knows when we doubt.

Be honest and cry out to Him to help you.  

Do not let moments of doubt keep you from reaching out to Him.  He is able to handle your questions.  

Be Faithful

Hebrews 3:12-15

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:  “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

  • Believer

Believe, do not doubt. 

Praise the Lord.  Do not pout.

In Him Trust.  It’s a must.

  • Exhort
    • Lift up
    • Console, strengthen
    • Admonish
    • Beseech, to urge, comfort
    • To call out to a person and offer aid
    • To speak of, recommend, advise
    • Urge forward
    • Call to one’s side

Romans 15:4 – For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

  • Exhort one another DAILY while it is called today.  In other words, do not delay….do it NOW.
  • Why today?  Because now is the day of salvation.  The present time because we have no guarantee of tomorrow. 
  • Be an encourager today because disappointment, discouragement, temptations are all there, ready to deceive. 
  • Be an encourager today because Satan strikes at the Christian to deceive, kill and destroy when they are at their weakest point.  Therefore, always be ready to be an encourager NOW.
  • Endure to the end.  It is not enough to just confess Christ, just to say the sinner’s prayer.  But today, NOW, this hour, this time we must determine in our heart to serve God.
  • Today, if you will hear His voice
  • Do not turn away
    • Do not delay
    • Do not look back
    • Do not stray

Revelation 2:10 – …Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.