Not a House Divided

Luke 11:17-20 “‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

A strategy used in everything from military campaigns to sporting events involves making a fake retreat in order to draw the enemy into a trap. You make it look like you are weak, you are losing ground, until the other side has spent themselves. Then you press the attack with greater strength than you had appeared to have at the beginning.

If Jesus was just an agent of the devil to make it look as though the demons were weak and losing before they turned around and pressed the attack, he sure didn’t understand the strategy well. He just kept beating up on his own team, one after the other. There was no turning point when the demons came out swinging. Instead, they were going down in flames.

You don’t win the war or win the game by actually beating up on your own side. That is Jesus’ point. Turn your guns on your own soldiers, and you will lose the battle every time. Jesus’ unbroken string of victories in his showdowns with the demons was steadily eroding the devil’s power. And it speaks volumes about Jesus.

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” If Jesus doesn’t work for the devil, then he works for God. And note his awesome power. Not a single demon could resist him. It is worth noting that Jesus calls the power by which he works the “finger of God,” not the “fist of God,” or the “arm of God,” but his finger. With the possible exception of some of the toes, the fingers are thinnest and weakest parts of the body. Literally, of course, God doesn’t use a human body in his spiritual battles. But at his weakest, with a single breath, with just a few words, he draws out the demons and sets people free to live as citizens of his kingdom. That’s the side that Jesus worked for, and still does. The demons’ inability to mount a serious challenge proves the source of Jesus’ power is the power of God himself.

The only greater demonstration of his power would come if he could take something far weaker, like his own death, and use that to break the devil’s hold on people, and set them free from the chains of death and hell. Imagine if Jesus’ death could rob the devil of the sins he needs to accuse us, and the guilt that would condemn us. Imagine if the simple preaching of such a thing would win our hearts to God’s side and fill them with faith and love. If Jesus’ death could do all that, there is nothing that the devil and all his angels could do to resist.

That’s why we live secure in the safety of his grace and love.

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