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Sunday, May 02, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan"

“Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
May 2, 2010
Luke 11:14-26

It’s great to be back in the pulpit and back in the book of Luke with you.

I enjoyed preaching at the district conference, and I enjoyed listening to Kim Cone last week, but I especially enjoy preaching to our own church family right here, right now.

And back to the Gospel of Luke.

Our series in Luke is called “Certain of Jesus” and this is the 25th message in this series since school began last Fall.

Certain of Jesus.

In today’s passage, there was a group of people who were certain that Jesus was in league with [catch this!] Satan!

Yes, you heard me right.  There was a group of people who were unhappy with Jesus’ ministry–in particular Jesus’ ministry of exorcism–and since they didn’t want to believe that Jesus was from God (and all that that would mean)–they decided to attribute Jesus’ power to the power of the Evil One.

They were saying that Jesus was in league with Satan.

And that’s a scarey and bewildering thought.

And Jesus, in our passage for today, has a strong answer for these people.

This section of the book of Luke is going to be full of strong words.

Things are heating up between Jesus and the Pharisee, between Jesus and the unbelieving generation around him, things are heating up between Jesus and the world.

And here in this passage, it gets really hot.

Jesus is accused of being in league with Satan himself.

But, instead, we find out that “Jesus is Stronger Than Satan.”

And that makes all of the difference for our lives.

Imagine for just a minute being under the oppression of mute demon. 

The King James version says, “dumb.”  But that’s an old way of saying “cannot speak.”

This man who was under the power of this demon could not speak one word.

And we don’t know how long he had been like that.

Can you imagine?  V.14

“Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.”  

Just imagine.

Now, how did this happen?  There is no denying that it did happen.

This man was mute, now he speaks.

How?

There has to be some explanation.

Well, verse 16 says that some people wanted another sign.  “Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.”

I mean, what more do you want?

We’ll talk more about these sign-demanders in the next couple of weeks.

But those people in verse 15 have an answer for how Jesus does this demon-driving miracle. 

It’s simple: He does it through the power of Satan!  V.15

“But some of them said, ‘By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.’”

Yes, they actually said that.

Beelzebub was the title of an old Canaanite god.  A false-god, of course.

It means the Lord of the Flies or The Lord of the Dung Heap.  The Lord of the Trash-Can.

And here, you can see that they were using it as a title for Satan, “the prince of demons.”

They couldn’t argue with the fact that Jesus was kicking the demons out left and right, but they could say that it wasn’t God it was Satan that was giving Jesus this power.

So, they did.  They actually attributed the exorcizing power of Jesus to Beelzebub.

Wow!

That’s one way to dodge the claims of Christ on your life!

Here’s how Jesus answers this charge.  It’s very interesting.  Look at verse 17.


“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.’”

Jesus starts with something everyone can agree with.

A kingdom that gets divided and then fights itself will be ruined.
A house (that is, a family) that is divided against itself will fall.

Abraham Lincoln used these very words of Jesus to talk about the danger of the Civil War.

A house that is divided against itself will fall.  Right? 

So, v.18.

“If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.”

Jesus doesn’t start by saying, “Do I look like I belong to Satan?!”

He could start there, but they would just say, “Yeah.” And they wouldn’t get anywhere.

Instead, he says, “Would Satan do that?”

Would Satan go on the offensive against his own army?  He’s smarter than that!

Now, he might fake it a little to try to fake everybody out.

But Jesus’ whole ministry is kicking Satan’s can.

Would Satan be dumb enough to being doing that?  V.19

“Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub (which I’m not!), by whom do your followers (Hebrew: sons) drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.”

You know, I’m not only one that’s had some success at exorcism.  Does everyone who casts out demons get their power from Satan? What about Jewish exorcists?  What would they say about this charge?  And verse 20.

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

That’s what happened.

You don’t want to admit it, but that’s what’s happened.

The Kingdom of God has come, right here, right now.

“By the finger of God.”

Does that phrase, “by the finger of God” remind you of anything?

They said “by Beelzebub.”  Jesus says, “by the finger of God.”

That’s the phrase that the Egyptian magicians say about Moses and the plagues on Egypt back in the book of Exodus.

They tell Pharaoh that these plagues have come by the finger of God.

God’s mighty power is rescuing His people by the finger of God.

I just see this finger sticking out there.

He does this powerful work with his finger.  Maybe His little finger!

By the pinky of God!

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

The kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God, the kingly realm of God has appeared and come near and come to you.

The King is here and His kingdom has come.

That’s what’s happening when Jesus does an exorcism.

The King is cleaning up His kingdom!

Dirty spirits don’t belong.

Now, here’s the most important 2 verses in this section of Scripture.  Verses 21 and 22.

Jesus paints a amazing word picture that has an amazing effect on our lives.

Verse 21.

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

Wait a second.  Don’t look at verse 22 yet.

Who do you think the strong man is in this story?

Who do you think?

Who is the strong man?!

It’s Satan, right?   Beelzebub.  The prince of demons.

He’s strong right?

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

“The world lies in the power of the evil one.”  The Bible says that.

His possessions are safe.

But verse 22.  BUT!

“But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

“But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Who is the someone stronger?

Did you ever think about that in relation to this passage?

I’ve always just skimmed over this passage.

But that’s talking about Jesus.  That’s talking about my Lord.

“But when someone stronger [Jesus!] attacks and overpowers [Satan], he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

They are at war with one another.  They are not friends!

But they are not equals, either.

Satan is strong.

But Jesus is stronger.

Jesus is stronger than Satan!

Now, I know that everyone here believes that.  At least, we would all say that we do.

But we don’t always act like it, do we?

We often act like we are dualists.

Dualists believe that there is evil and good, but that they are equal.

Kind of like Yin and Yang – two opposite but equal forces that balance each other out.

But that’s not what reality is like, at all!

Jesus and Satan are not equals that balance each other out.

Satan is a strong man that guard his own house (the word “house” in verse 21 is often used for castle or a court).  He is strong, armored, a bad-dude.  You don’t want to mess with him.

But there is one stronger.

And He has come on the attack!

When Jesus entered the world, the Bible says, that He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3)!

And that’s exactly what He’s doing.

So, let’s apply this.

Here’s point #1 of 3.

#1.  REJOICE!

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

The Kingdom of has come.

The strong man has been beaten by the even stronger man.  And now He’s dividing up the spoils.

Rejoice!

Jesus did this through the Cross.

He did it, in part, through these exorcisms.  But they were small fry compared to how He defeated Satan on the Cross.

It’s paradoxical and counter-intuitive, but Jesus delivered the biggest blow of all to Satan when He gave Himself up for us.

Colossians 2 says that Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Satan might have thought that he won, when Jesus died, but that’s where he lost the war.

And he knew it by Sunday morning.

Rejoice!

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

He stooped to conquer, but conquer, He did.

In a few minutes, we will celebrate this victory together at the Lord’s Table.

And enjoy a taste of the spoils of Jesus’ victory for us.

Rejoice!  Jesus is stronger than Satan.

#2.  DO NOT FEAR.

It doesn’t always feel like this does it?

It doesn’t always feel like Jesus is stronger than Satan, does it?

Sometimes, we would agree with that statement, but we don’t always feel it.

Sometimes, it seems like the evil in this world is growing out of control.

Does it feel like that to you?  Sometimes, at least?

It’s easy to fear.

But Jesus says, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.

Jesus says, “Fear not.  For I am with you.”

Jesus says, “Satan is overpowered, his armor is taken away, and the spoils are being divided.”

Now, this is not as good as it gets.

Satan has been defeated, but the war is not over.

The war is won, but it is not over yet.

There are still battles being fought.

Because as smart as Satan is (and there is no one smarter than Satan under God), Satan is very stupid, and does not believe that he has lost.

And even if he knows it in every fiber of his being, he wants to take as many people down with him as possible.

He is like Hitler in his bunker killing away at the end of World War II.

Even though his doom is sure.

So, yes, Satan is still strong.

He is still able to tempt, still able to accuse, still able to oppress, still able, yes, to possess an unbeliever.

And he rages!

But DO NOT FEAR.

Greater is he that is in you than He that is in the world!

If you belong to Jesus, you need not fear the devil.

Be wary of him.
Stand firm.
Be on alert.

But fear not.


Last Sunday night, Kim and Jan Cone came over to our house and meet with the Link Group that meets at our place.

And Kim was talking about the spirit world which seems much more real in Africa.

They are much more in tune there with what is going on in the spirit world.

And unbelieving Africans live in fear of the spirits.  Almost perpetual fear.

But Kim was telling us about how when Jesus comes into these African’s lives, they are able to defeat their fears.

One man told Kim that he saw a “Noki” up in a tree.

A noki is a demon.  A spirit.

And that would frighten me!

If I saw a demon up in a tree, I’d be scared.

And it normally would, an African, too.

But this man told Kim that he’d seen a Noki, but he wasn’t scared.

Do you know why?

Because he knew King Jesus!

He knew the stronger man who has attacked and overpowered the strong man.

Do Not Fear.

I sense a lot of fear among Christians in our nation right now.

And it’s not from Jesus.

There are a lot of people who think that our country is going to hell in handbasket right now. And it might be, I’m not sure.

It doesn’t seem like it to me, but I might just be missing the big picture.

But I know that even if our country is going to hell in a handbasket, that we are not supposed to be people of fear!

That’s not from Jesus.

He has not “not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Jesus wants us to be confident and peaceful and live boldly for Him.

He has overpowered the strong man.

Do not fear.

My mother in law was in the hospital again this week with her cancer.

She’s not having a fun time of it.  She is suffering.

And it hurts.  She can’t be happy happy all of the time.

But she shows an amazing lack of fear.

You know why?

Because she knows that greater is He that is her than he that is the world.

And she is choosing Him.

That’s #3 and last.

#3.  CHOOSE JESUS.

If Jesus is stronger than Satan, He is the clear choice.

Choose Jesus.

That’s the point of verses 23.

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”

Jesus is calling for a choice.

“Are you with me?

If you are not with me, you are against me.
If you do not gather to me, you are will be scattered.
If you are not mine, you are lost.

Are you with me?

I have defeated the strong man!

Are you with me?

The Kingdom of God has come to you!

Are you with me?”

Choose Jesus.

If you don’t, then you are in trouble.

That’s the point of the last little story in verses 24 through 26.

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Jesus gives us this word picture to tell us how important it is to choose Him.

Because it’s not good enough just to get cleaned up.

It’s not good enough to even be exorcized of a demon!

It’s not good enough to straighten up your life.

You need Jesus.

If a devil leaves a house and goes looking for a new home, but can’t find one, they come back and check their old place again.

And if you haven’t replaced that spirit with a Holy Spirit, with God Himself, then it will be worse for you than if you had never cleaned up your life in the first place.

We need Jesus.

We need a new Spirit, not just the defeat of the old spirits, not just the defeat of Beelzebub and his army, but the abiding, indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ.

And we get that by choosing Jesus.

Choosing Him once and for all.

And choosing Him each day, as well.

If you have not chosen Jesus and declared, “I am with you, Jesus!” then I urge you to do so today.

Trust Him as your King and Rescuer, your Lord and Savior.

Put your faith in what Jesus did on the Cross–conquering Satan by dying for our sins.

There is no middle ground.

No liking Jesus, but not following Him.
No checking Him out, but never deciding.
No being not for Him, but not against Him.

There is no fence.
There is no fence!

“He who is not with me is against me.”

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

Choose Jesus.

Do Not Fear.
Rejoice!


_________________________
Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

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