Recently, we looked at the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.
When Jesus addressed these churches He typically disclosed four things to them.
Jesus revealed Himself to them
Jesus commended most of the churches for something good He had seen in them.
Jesus address some sin that the church needed to repent of.
Jesus then gives a promise to those who will hear, repent and respond in faith.
Jesus promises many things to those who overcome. For example,
To the church in Ephesus, Jesus promises that the one who conquers will eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.
To the church in Smyrna, Jesus promises that the one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.
To the church in Pergamum, Jesus promises that they will receive the hidden manna, a white stone with a new name that has been written upon it.
To the church in Thyatira, Jesus promises that those who conquer will receive authority to rule over the nations and they will receive the morning star.
To the church in Sardis, Jesus promises that they will be clothed in white garments and their name will not be blotted out of the book of life. Jesus will confess them before His Father.
To the church in Philidelphia who conquerors Jesus will make them a pillar in the temple of God. He write upon them the name of God, the city of God, and a new name.
To the church of Laodicea who conquerors, Jesus promises that He will grant them to sit with Him on his throne.
All of us want to be conquerors.
All of us want to receive these promises.
We want to crush the enemy.
We want to rout the adversary.
We want to oppose the enemy.
We want to advance against our foe with courage.
Yet, when we are called to the front lines of battle and when we are about to engage the enemy we may find that our hearts fail us, our courage collapses and our spirits begin to cower. We want to be worthy disciples but we don’t always want to be soldiers for Christ.
This is what happened to the Israelites. When Goliath would come down to the battle line and begin to speak to the armies of Israel they would hide and cower.
“Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us…I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard theses words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” (1 Samuel 17:8-11)
William Gurnall speaks of such things in his classic book, “The Christian In Complete Armor”. He says,
Every duty in the Christian’s whole course of walking with God is lined with many difficulties which shoot at him through the hedges on his march toward heaven. He must fight the enemy for every inch of ground along the way. Only those noble-spirited souls who dare to take heaven by force are fit for this calling. This warfare analogy reveals why there are so many who profess Christ and so few who are in fact Christians; so many who go into the field against Satan, and so few who come out conquerors. All may have the desire to be successful soldiers, but few have the courage and determination to grapple with the difficulties that accost them on the way to victory. (p.25)
Jesus has promised so many GRACES to those who conquer.
And yet, I wonder if the promise of such things is enough to motivate me to make it to the end, to endure, to fight, to not give in, to not compromise?
Saul made promises to Israel. And yet, no one stepped up to fight. He promised that the man who could defeat Goliath would have:
his father’s house would be free from taxes
and he would be given the kings daughter in marriage
And yet, when Goliath came out the men of Israel fled from him and were very much afraid? (1 Samuel 17:24-27)
I find myself asking a question.
Are these promises by Jesus given for my motivation or are they grounded in something greater?
Are these promises given to us in the same manner that Saul gave his promises to Israel or is Jesus giving them in a different manner?
It is true, that these promises are a motivation for us.
These promises are something that we are to hold on too when the battles rage in this life and we need hope, encouragement, and confidence.
These promises by Jesus are greater than the promise of Saul (who would not himself fight Goliath).
We read of this in 1 Samuel 17:50-52, “David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of the sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines.”
Again, consider these words by William Gurnall, “For bravery none compares with our Lord. He never turned His head from danger, not even when hell’s hatred and heaven’s justice appeared against Him...Satan could not overcome Him – our Savior never lost a battle, not even when He lost His life. He won the victory, carrying His spoils to heaven in the triumphant chariot of ascension. There He makes an open show of them, to the unspeakable joy of saints and angels.”
The promises that Jesus gives to the churches are not given merely to motivate us; but they are the assurance of the victory that Christ Himself has already obtained!
This is why Jesus gives Himself as the example of the one who has conquered and now sits upon the throne with the Father. Hi sits victoriously! We see this in Revelation 3:21, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne.”
Last week we considered Jesus as the one who conquered in the midst of all of the chaos in this world. Jesus is the example for all of us who seek to be disciples in this crazy and chaotic world.
Today we will consider Jesus who conquers over principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) He has conquered them all. He has not defeated only a few; only a percentage of our enemies. Jesus is not like the Israelites who failed to defeat all of their enemies as they went into the promised land.
We will look at Christ our conqueror who ‘disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him’. (Colossians 2:15)
The text that we will look at today is Luke 11:14-23,
14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
The beginning of this text is very straight forward. We read, “Now Jesus was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the people marveled.” (Luke 11:14)
I wish that Luke could have continued along this path in the telling of this story.
This man began to speak and people marveled. Perhaps this marveling is in regards to two things:
First, because of the power and authority that Jesus displays when He casts out this demon
Secondly, perhaps they marveled because of the words of the man who could now speak
Something similar happened to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, in Luke 1:63-66. We read,
And Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John,’ And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?’ For the hand of the Lord was with him.
The people were filled with wonder before Zechariah spoke and they were moved further when they heard Zechariah talk after his tongue was loosed.
Those around Jesus did not have that opportunity because it was disrupted by the unbelieving response of some in the crowd. In this, you see Satan at work in two ways:
First, through the man who was possessed.
Secondly, in the distraction by those who scoffed and blasphemed. In this way, Satan is making the seed that Jesus is scattering not produce. (Luke 8:9-15 – The seeds along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they will not believe and be saved.)
(Application: Don’t be surprised if your worship and wonder are drowned out by Satan and distractions)
The casting out of this demon is met with two responses from some in the crowd.
In Luke 11:17 we read these words, “But He (Jesus) knowing their thoughts, said to them...”
Why does Luke write the words, ‘Jesus knowing their thoughts’?
In Luke 11:15 we see that these people are saying things out loud.
In Luke 11:16 we find others ‘kept seeking from Him a sign’.
These people were not thinking among themselves; rather they were speaking out loud to Jesus and the others around them.
I think that Luke tells us that Jesus knew their thoughts for a couple reasons. First, it is good for us to recognize that Jesus often operated on an altogether different level than we do.
He knows the heart of men.
He knew what was is in the heart of the man who was mute.
Jesus saw beyond the words of these people who mocked with their mouth.
Jesus’ words deal with our hearts.
Secondly, I think Jesus is responding not only to those who spoke these things but to all of them who were thinking these things in their hearts.
He did not just respond to the ones who spoke, but to them all.
Keep that in mind if you are prone to think that Jesus is speaking to all the other people and not to you.
Jesus goes on to say that if He casts out these demons by the power of Beelzebul then Satan’s kingdom is divided and it cannot stand. Every divided kingdom and every divided house cannot stand no matter how powerful it may be.
He also says to them in Luke 11:19, “If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.”
Look closer with me at Luke 11:20-22, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.”
Let me make a few brief observations about what we just read. First, Jesus was not casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, but by the power of God. Jesus says that it is by the finger of God.
Secondly, because Jesus has come displaying His glory by performing miracles, signs and wonders, preaching for the conversion of souls, and casting out demons; the kingdom of God has come upon them. Whenever the kingdom of God breaks through, we see grace abound, restoration and life being given. We find the light of heaven shining in this dark and sinful world.
Then Jesus says, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe”.
Jesus did not come into the world where a weak devil and incompetent demons roamed.
Jesus did not arrive here and find Satan and his minions asleep or distracted.
Jesus did not find Satan and the demons missing their ammunition and their resources depleted.
Satan and his demons are strong, fully armed, and guarding their kingdom.
Satan and the demons hate God and despise his kingdom and all hands were on deck.
Then Jesus says, “...but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.”
Jesus did not come to appease Satan.
Jesus did not come to allay with him.
Jesus did not come to placate or pacify Satan.
He came as the God-Man who was strong in the Spirit, - “but when one stronger”. (Luke 4:14 – And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee…)
Satan is not Jesus’ equal.
Jesus came to attack Satan and his kingdom with His great strength.
Jesus was invading Satan’s kingdom and He overcome him.
He stripped him and his demons of their armor in which they trusted and He continues to divide up the spoils.
Because Christ has overcome principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places; we ought to respond in some way. Will we respond with praise and worship, or will we respond in indifference, unbelief or will we demand another sign from heaven?
If that man in our story whom Jesus delivered could give us a psalm to consider today I think that it might have been Psalm 95. Let us conclude by considering the psalmists words.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
The generation that Jesus did this miracle in front of demanded another sign. In one way, Jesus said that He would not give them another sign. He could have done any number of impressive signs but He tells them that He won’t do it. Instead, Jesus will give them the greatest sign. He will give them the sign of Jonah.
Jesus is going to the cross to to die for our sins. He would be placed in a grave and then raise again in three days. This is the greatest sign. This is when Jesus conquered Satan and made a public spectacle of them. This is when He defeated our foe and our enemy. Have you ears to hear? Will you repent and place your trust in Christ?
Since Christ has conquered Satan and sealed the victory for His saints you and I can have great confidence in all things.
We can now engage in the battle that is before us with confidence. Ephesians 6:12-18 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
As conquerors we engage in the battle for our holiness and Christ-likeness. He overcame and now in Christ we can be overcomers. Hebrews 12:12-14 – Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
A conqueror trusts their King even through suffering and death.
There is sympathy in Christ in our deliverance but also in the midst of our sufferings.
There will be an end to our sufferings and we find joy in that day.
There are countless examples of saints who conquered in suffering and we fellowship with them.
We conquer in all things because all things come with a blessing from God.
Hebrews 12:11 – For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Luke 22:31-32 – Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.