“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”
People are resilient.
People tend to have the ability to withstand the outside forces that come against them. Communities have the powerful ability to stand together and withstand pressure against stronger or bigger opponents than them as long as they stay as a united front. Unity has the power to make individuals who are not as strong in of themselves become a potent force when combined.
What undermines a unified group often is not the unstoppable force but an internal break. The fall of a friend group, community, organization, and even the church is not often the forces that come against them but disunity amongst them. When the house is divided, the house will not stand and that is often the case for churches throughout history.
In today’s passage we see several things on unity and freedom through spiritual warfare against the enemy. A demon possessed man is brought before Jesus and is unable to see and speak but Jesus heals him which causes the crowd to question, “Can this man be the Son of David?” This question causes the ire of the religious leaders to accuse Jesus of exorcising this man from the demon by using the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons!
Several things has happened thus far in this moment.
Can this be the Son of David?
The idea of a messiah is not a foreign concept for the Jewish people at this time. The prophecies of the Old Testament of a savior to set God’s people free is something that they all hold onto but the common people’s perception of the messiah is very limited. The common Jewish person in that era, limited the role of the messiah of being like King David that would be a warrior king who will bring a state of peace for the people of God again. Jesus has worked a lot of miracles and was bringing a state of peace through the land through His ministry, but the fact that He is also exorcising demons is something that the people were not expecting.
Casts out demons through the power of Beelzebul?
Beelzebul is a reference to Satan and thus the religious leaders are trying to invalidate the identity and authority of Jesus by saying he is doing these miracles through the power of the demonic. The name “Beelzebul” means “master of the house.” The attribution of Beelzebul is interesting to note due to the meaning of the name because Jesus is going to expose that the religious leaders are in fact operating under the oppression of the master of the house which Satan is going to destroy those shackles through His ministry.
In light of the inflammatory accusations of the religious leaders, Jesus exposes their flawed thinking by giving out a simple truth of the illogical nature of someone trying to advance their own agenda by undermining their own agenda. How can a house be established, move forward, and persist if it is divided? Jesus’ questioning of the logic of the religious leaders exposes that if indeed he were to be using the power of demons to cast out demons, it wouldn’t make any sense because that is a flawed strategy to employ when you want to continue to establish a control of the earth.
Satan wants to maintain control of the earth he obtained since the fall of man. For Satan to set someone free from the bondage of demons would be illogical, silly, and nonsensical if Satan’s goal was to maintain control. In this situation, Jesus is not just winning an argument with people on the streets but what the physical eye cannot readily see is the movements of the spiritual realm. Jesus in of Himself and ministry is replacing the kingdom of darkness that has been established for centuries by bringing in the kingdom of the light. Jesus came to set the captives free and the only way to set the captives free is through binding Satan and removing his control over the things he has obtained through deception.
Jesus provides an analogy of robbing a strong person’s house to explain his ministry. Through this illustration, Jesus is saying that one cannot rob a strong man if the strong man is not bound for that person would just resist you. A strategy to employ is to first bind the the strong man so that you now have the freedom to plunder the house of the strong man. Is Jesus advocating theft? No! In this illustration, the strong man is Satan, the house is the world, and the goods are the people under oppression of the enemy. Jesus has come to bind Satan and “rob” him by setting people free from demonic control, which can range from temptation, addiction, and possession.
In the process of establishing the house of God, He is disrupting the house of Satan and the religious leaders on the outside would seem to be in the house of the Lord but their love of self-honor and pride is only building up their own houses of bondage to sin, to which when the kingdom of heaven collides with it, cannot coexist.
Unity is important
Jesus referenced the power of unity and how a disunified house cannot stand. A lot of times a church community falls because they are divided. If the church is divided, it is often times because they are not united in Christ and only united to their own agendas and goals. The enemy in of himself has no power to take down the church. Yes Satan can harass the church but to take it down is out of the question and it is usually turmoil within the body that uproots the church. Therefore we must champion unity and not unity as in conformity to look like our cultural interpretations of Jesus. The church must be unified in the understanding of the Gospel, who Jesus is in accordance to His word, and to love one another as we pursue the presence of God. It is so easy to be unified on agendas and goals with glorifying Jesus as secondary but we must not waver in the primary pursuit of loving God and people. If we see disunity in our churches, we must ask ourselves how we can love each other despite our differences but united in our pursuit of loving God and being holy like Him!
Binding the strong man: Spiritual warfare
The ministry of Jesus shows us through action and teaching the hidden spiritual war we are in. A big mistake that Christians’ make is trying to live as if we are in a state of peace when in fact we are very much in a war! The enemy is often times working hard to steal, kill, and destroy but christians are being pulled away into building comfortable lives and houses here on earth. Let’s get this straight, we are in a war and to live as if it is peace time is only going to set up us for failure and being played by the enemy. Spiritual warfare is more than winning a battle against headaches or sickness but it is to establish the house of God over the house of the enemy. For a quick primer here are four things to be mindful of when engaging in spiritual warfare
We must identify the type of works or enemies that are present within a group or area. When I am allowed to guest speak somewhere, I must first ask the person who invited me and God what the identity of the group is with a clarifying question of the types of struggles present. The places of struggle are the places where battles are being waged in the supernatural realm but often times not seen that way because we have too much dependence upon what we can see with our natural eyes. When we go evangelize in the streets or in certain cities, what are some things you see that people are drawn to or live for? What are some of the addictions or thinking patterns of the people? A question in fact that encompasses all these things is this, “What are the idols that are being allowed to remain here?” You can’t properly battle something without first identifying what that thing is.
Invite the manifest presence of God through prayer and declaration. If you ever engage in spiritual warfare without God, you are going to lose! The enemy has been defeated on the cross and we shouldn’t fear him but we shouldn’t be careless around him! If we are talking about removing the kingdom of darkness by replacing with that the kingdom of the light, then it is only natural in that process to invite God to establish His kingdom in the situation or place that you are in.
This is not going to be a fancy ritual or magic. This is going to be simple and rests upon your faith but more importantly your relationship with the Lord. To bind an enemy is to declare that whatever struggles or spirits you have identified cannot stay. The demonic and it’s influences are only present when they feel that they are welcomed to stay. To declare that the demonic is no longer welcomed is to outright declare that they have to leave and at times coupled with the action of confession/repentance for a big foothold of the enemy to stay is hidden sin. Like an unwanted person in your home, simply declare they are no longer allowed to be in your life and stop inviting them back!
To cast out the darkness but not establish the light is only going to set you up for the darkness to come back and establish themselves in a stronger position than before. People get healed and delivered but they don’t commit themselves to Christ and thus get into a position of deeper bondage to the enemy later. If you want to see freedom in yourselves, in the region, in a generation, it requires not just freedom from the kingdom of darkness but firm establishment of the kingdom of the light! Enthrone Jesus daily in your lives! Enthrone Jesus in your communities! Enthrone Jesus in your generation if you want to experience the freedom daily!
Today we have the opportunity to either further expand God’s kingdom or let the kingdom of darkness remain. You and I in Christ have that ability to take back all the things the enemy has stolen from us because Jesus Himself has set in motion the redemption and restoration of all things!
Let us take it all back for His glory!