Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jesus the Robber?

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
Mark 3:22-30

In Romans 1:18-19 Paul tells us that what can be known about God is plain to us by His creation (and now by his revelation through Jesus and the Bible) but we have a tendency to "suppress the truth" about God. We willingly reject Him, because He doesn't conform to what we want Him to be. This is exactly what we find the teachers of the law doing in this passage. Jesus has been working miracles that clearly show His divine nature. He has regularly healed the sick and even now He is casting out demons, but they are set on rejecting Him. So they justify their rejection by claiming that Jesus is possessed by the Devil. More specifically they claim that it is the Devil in Jesus that is driving demons out of others.

Jesus responds with a simple parable. Can a house divided against itself stand? Certainly, many of us have experienced this ourselves. When spouses begin to make war with one another, more often than not, their marriage fails. When parents and children consistently tear one another down, the family falls apart. So too Jesus says, "Why would Satan attack his own strongholds?" Wouldn't it be great if Satan were to turn against his own kingdom and suddenly begin to set free all the people he has enslaved and deceived? But that isn't what is happening. In fact, Jesus seems to say that it is an absurd idea.

Then Jesus offers a true explanation of His ministry. His power is from the Lord, yet the works which He is working now (namely casting out demons) is not ultimately what He has come to do. It is simply the necessary prelude and preparation for His true ministry. His true ministry is to reclaim from the power of Satan all of creation along with those people in it who are willing to follow Him. This creation is currently under the control of Satan (Matthew 4:8-11 and I John 5:19) because humanity chose sin over obedience to God on that day in the Garden of Eden and every day since. We have all bowed the knee in service to the enemy. Since we have been given dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28-29) and we gave dominion of ourselves to the Devil (John 8:34 and Romans 6:16), He now has many strongholds in the world. So in preparation for His great reclamation and redemption of His creation, Jesus is first "binding the strong man." He is systematically showing His superiority over Satan and is breaking down his strongholds on the earth.

What parts of your life does the Devil still have dominion over? Is your heart a heart divided against itself? I know this pain. Rest assured that Jesus will set you free if you are willing. Certainly none of us experiences complete perfection right after salvation. Once we give our hearts to the Lord, He begins the slow process of working through all of the sin in them. Slowly tearing down stronghold after stronghold in our hearts. Conforming us more and more into the image of Christ, and setting us free from the power of sin a little more each day. But sometimes we stall this process out ourselves. We turn back to sin and begin to cling to it again. Work with the Lord today. Expose the sin and the strongholds in your heart to the Great Healer and Redeemer. Ask Him to bind the "strong man" in the darkest corners of your life.

For further reading...

  • Matthew 4:8-11 and I John 5:19- The whole world is under Satan's control right now, but one day we know Jesus will return and then the kingdom of God will come in power! 
  • Romans 1:18-32- We willfully reject God.
  • Romans 6- A whole passage on slavery to sin and slavery to righteousness.

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