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  • Writer's picturePastor Brett

Demonology and Division

Today we observe “Grace Relations Sunday.” This is our annual reminder that our relationships with each other are to be based on the grace of Jesus Christ for salvation. We have received it; we are to show it to one another.

It might be good to have a reminder of what grace is. Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is making allowances for one another, forgiving, and forbearing because that is how God has treated us. When we give and receive grace, our relationships benefit because we love each other more.

When our relationships are based on mutual selfishness, a “What can you do for me?” attitude, relationships will be shallow, unreliable, and short-lived. It will be the same result if we only associate with people who are just like us. There is only one thing that is truly necessary for meaningful relationships and that is to have Christ at the center. Sharing Jesus as our Savior provides a good foundation to go deep into relationships, the kind of relationships we desire to have.

I offer this biblical teaching about relationships as a contrast to one of the most widely believed myths about our culture; that we are more divided now than we have ever been. It is simply false to cite the high emotions over a few issues and call it the most divisive political situation ever.

Historically, there have been times and issues that have more deeply divided us. Slavery is an issue that comes to mind. That issue had to be settled on the battlefield, in a conflict called the American Civil War. Over which of our modern issues have we split into separate governments, raised armies, and started shooting one another?

There are some people who want to stretch differences into divisions and divisions into actual conflicts. That’s why they keep harping on our differences and try to raise the stakes, driving people further apart.

Some people think the only way America can be “reformed” is through violent revolution. They attempt to raise the temperature of divisions to create any kind of violence. We saw examples of this in the riots of 2020. This ambition comes from a Marxist point of view and is sadly skewed against the Christian faith.

Let us not diminish the different sides people take on the issues of our time. But let us not allow those issues to be inflated and exaggerated by people who are trying to incite conflict as a means of making money and/or gaining power.

Let us counter the myriad hysterical voices with the voice of reason and, more importantly, the peace-making Spirit of Jesus Christ. Let us aspire to bring people together. Let us practice grace relations.

Refuting accusations of wielding satanic power, Jesus taught about demons and their divisive effect on relationships.

1. Demonology: how the enemy works.

- Vs. 14-16 = Spiritual evil uses deception.

- Vs. 24-26 = Spiritual evil never gives up.

2. Division is almost always bad.

The deadly effects of division. (17-23) Jesus knew THEIR THOUGHTS and addressed their objections directly. Regarding human relationships, Jesus offered two examples. (17) The first is on a national scale, that division between people could take the form of a CIVIL WAR. A KINGDOM so divided is DOOMED. The second is on a personal scale, that division between people could take the form of FEUDING. A FAMILY so SPLINTERED is bound to FALL APART.

Spiritual evil is not spared this dynamic. Should demons oppose one another, their KINGDOM will not SURVIVE. (18-22) This is Jesus’ rebuttal of the charge leveled by some that His power to cast out demons did not come from God but from Satan. (15)

Who is Satan? He is “The Accuser,” the chief adversary of mankind. A fallen angel, Satan dared to rebel against God and to this day, opposes God’s truth and His rule by supernatural means. He is the leader of demons who are also fallen angels. They join him in attempting to deceive unbelievers so they might not be saved, and to distract, discourage, and divide believers to keep them from maturing, sharing, and enjoying their faith. He is the STRONG MAN to whom Jesus refers in vs. 20-22.

If, as they said, Satan opposed his own demons, then he divided his own kingdom and worked against his own survival. That simply doesn’t make sense. (18) Satan’s strategy is indeed to divide, but to divide Christians, not his own forces.

Jesus then compared Himself to the EXORCISTS that were part of the Jewish religious leadership. (19) They would claim to use God’s power to cast out demons, not Satan’s. Jesus’ critics were casting aspersions on their own EXORCISTS, and they would take offense at the same thing being said of them. (See Acts 19 for an account of a fake exorcist.)

Jesus assured them that He cast out demons by God’s power. (20-22) Jesus’ authority over demons came from His relationship with God the Father. He was the stronger man who bound the STRONG MAN and stole souls from him one at a time. Jesus’ power over spiritual evil is evidence that the KINGDOM OF GOD HAS ARRIVED AMONG YOU.

The division that matters most is between those who follow and those who oppose Jesus. (23) This is a place in life where neutrality is not possible. The decision of what we do with Jesus is the one that makes the difference between heaven and hell. Jesus made this point with a couple of similar-sounding statements.

“ANYONE WHO ISN’T WITH ME OPPOSES ME.” There is no neutrality in our commitments. Human history is the record of the struggle of good and evil. As Jesus is the leader of good, He is the target of evil. He is the dividing line. Whatever you may claim or whatever others may think about you isn’t important. What is important is your relationship with Jesus as Savior.

“ANYONE WHO ISN’T WORKING WITH ME IS ACTUALLY WORKING AGAINST ME.” There is no neutrality in our actions. This sounds obvious. Jesus meant that what we chose to do either works for His Kingdom or against it. Actions that are not in line with His character work against Him.

These statements were directed at the grumblers and mumblers who, in v. 15, accused Jesus of being in league with the devil. By their own words they revealed their decision to reject and oppose Jesus, working against Him.

Refuting accusations of wielding satanic power, Jesus taught about demons and their divisive effect on relationships.

Whenever you encounter someone in person or in media who is going on about the divide in America and who is, more importantly, trying to deepen the divide with sharp words and rash actions, stop and ask, “Who benefits from creating or deepening division on this issue?”

There are legitimate differences between people of different ethnicities, but they are not genetically significant. Outward appearances do vary, but under the skin, human beings are human beings. Who becomes more powerful or wealthier by making something like skin color an issue to divide people and fight over?

Science and theology affirm that males and females are different in every cell of their bodies. Changing one’s appearance isn’t going to change that. Who becomes more powerful or wealthier by making something like gender an issue to divide people and fight over?

Regardless of what party platforms say, the statistical evidence of what elected officials have actually voted for indicates there isn’t much difference between either of the main political parties. Who becomes more powerful or wealthier by making something political party affiliation an issue to divide people and fight over?

If you compare points of theological agreement with theological disagreement, you find that in any measure, Christian denominations agree on far more than they disagree. Who becomes more powerful or wealthier by making something like denominational affiliation an issue to divide people and fight over?

We could go on, offering other examples. Instead, let’s finish this up by getting to the heart of the matter. Who gains when people are divided – God or Satan? After all, Satan is the Father of all lies (John 10:10) and liars tend to be peace breakers. I find it no mere coincidence that Jesus talked about division in the middle of a teaching about demons. Apart from Jesus Christ, we have no resource for making a lasting peace or truly complete relationship.

Every difference, division, or conflict that diverts our attention from Jesus is wrong. Every time we divide over some selfish, worldly thing, we have sinned. Every relationship that is not marked by grace has failed to live up to God’s high standards.

So, what must we do? As Christians, our primary citizenship is in God’s Kingdom. Our loyalty is to Jesus Christ and He is the basis for our relationships, including our primary relationship with God. Church relationships are first priority, then family, then community. We must keep the first thing the first thing.

Outside the church, we are citizens of an earthly kingdom, and we must relate well to our fellow citizens. We respect all people in order to be winsome witnesses and to foster relationships to cooperate in creating the most benefit for the most citizens. We must not, however, fall for the notion that we are all the same. The difference that makes a difference is whether we have Jesus.


RESOURCES:

F.F. Bruce, Hard Sayings of Jesus, 1983, pp. 157-158.

Enduring Word Bible Commentary, retrieved from https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/luke-11/ on 25 October 2023.

Allison A. Trites, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 12, The Gospel of Luke, 2006, pp. 178-181.

Walter L. Liefeld, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Luke, 1984, pp. 950-952.

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