Luke and Satan


Luke 11:14-22

Jesus, during His earthly ministry, was clever and always in charge in spite of what those who were trying to stymie His work thought.  In language not unlike Exodus 8:19, Jesus answered His critics in such a way that made it almost impossible to conclude that God was NOT at work in His work.

This is the finger of God, they exclaimed to Pharaoh. But Pharaohs heart was hard and stubborn, and he wouldnt listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.  (Exodus 8:19  TLB)

No matter the evidence, there are people, like Pharaoh and some the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who would just never believe the truth.  In Luke 11, these men accused Jesus of casting out demons using the power of Satan.  Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but people obsessed with religion will always sound ridiculous in the light of the simplicity of God’s truth.

This is a familiar story in the life of Jesus; it’s seen in Matthew and Mark (Matthew 12, Mark 3) with slight variations.  A demon-possessed man who had lost the ability to talk had been set free and as a result, started talking.  Those who had witnessed this miracle – or it might be more accurate to say these miracles –  were amazed.  But mixed in with this sense of amazement was a nagging doubt and perhaps some fear.  Matthew’s account records this reaction from some:

The crowd was amazed. Maybe Jesus is the Messiah! they exclaimed.  (Matthew 12:23  TLB)

And here, the reaction of some bordered on outright hostility:

No wonder he can cast them out. He gets his power from Satan, the king of demons!  Others asked for something to happen in the sky to prove his claim of being the Messiah.  (Luke 11:15, 16  TLB)

So, the crowd was definitely divided.  Some thought that perhaps this Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, some thought He was a much darker Person, getting His power from Satan.  Still others wanted to a sign.

There will always be the “sign-seekers” in our midst; people who are indecisive and unable to form an opinion, even when the truth is right in front of them.  This kind of people always want more proof or evidence.  It’s odd that they would want to see a sign in the sky when demons were cast out on earth.  They had the proof or evidence right in front of them:  a man had been set free from demonic possession and he started talking.  A man’s life and heart had been changed.  But these religious types wanted more, like they always do. 

In this story we see another truth, later stated succinctly by Paul:

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodiesthe evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.  (Ephesians 6:12  TLB)

1.  The real enemy

No wonder he can cast them out. He gets his power from Satan, the king of demons!  (Luke 11:15  TLB)

In the original, Jesus is accused of getting His supernatural powers from “Beelzebub.”  Who or what is that?  Sometimes in the New Testament, Satan is referred to as “Beelzebub,” but where did that name come from?  The answer is found back in 2 Kings 1:2–

Israels new king, Ahaziah, had fallen off the upstairs porch of his palace at Samaria and was seriously injured. He sent messengers to the temple of the god Baal-zebub at Ekron to ask whether he would recover.  (2 Kings 1:2  TLB)

In the New Testament, “Baal” is replaced with “Beel,” leading to “Beelzebub,” which means “lord of the dwelling.”  We can see why this name for Satan is used in connection with demon possession!

In Luke, these religious leaders were saying that Jesus was using Satan’s power to drive these demons out of the unfortunate man.  And in Mark’s account they even went so far as to accuse Jesus of being possessed by Satan Himself!

We can only imagine how humiliating this must have been for Jesus to go through.  Here He was, the One sent from Heaven to heal the sick, restore the oppressed, and seek the lost being called “demon possessed” by so-called religious wizards of smart.

But what of Satan?  What do we know about him?

(a)  His character

In verse 21, Satan is described as being “strong and armed.”   The strength of the devil is in the nefarious nature of his character:  he is a liar and a deceiver and he is cunning.  But his real strength lies in our weakness; he knows our Achilles’ heel and he is an expert at exploiting it.  As he did with Eve in the Garden, Satan comes to us in wisdom and in friendship, often appearing exactly opposite to his true self.

God never sent those men at all; they are phonies who have fooled you into thinking they are Christs apostles.  Yet I am not surprised! Satan can change himself into an angel of light, so it is no wonder his servants can do it too, and seem like godly ministers.  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15a  TLB)

(b)  His condition

In addition to his craftiness, Satan is described by Jesus as being “armed.”  His armor is the darkness, not the light; he does his best, most effective work under the cover of darkness.

...but one night as he slept, his enemy came and sowed thistles among the wheat.  (Matthew 13:25  TLB)

In Ephesians 2, Paul describes Satan as a “prince of the air,” and the lost of this world are under his control:

You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord.  (Ephesians 2:2  TLB)

Satan’s armor is the exact opposite to that of God’s.  His belt is the belt of deceit – he has been a liar from the very beginning.  Satan does not tell the truth.  His breastplate is that of wickedness – he is wicked from his innermost being; there is no good thing in this creature.  He wears boots of cruelty and his shield is the a shield of doubt and faithlessness.  On Satans head is the helmet of damnation and his sword is the vile imagination of his heart.  But the Christian has a different kind of armor:  Ephesians 6:11-18.

(c)  His occupation

Further, we are told Satan guards his palace.   What is his palace?  Its the unredeemed heart!  He guards it even as he owns it.  He guards those hearts that belong to him by continually whispering lies into the persons ears.  I dont need to go to church,I dont need God right now,Before I die, Ill get right with God, and things like that.  This is Satans occupation, and hes expert at it.

And the sad part is, the more anxious the captive heart is to leave, the closer Satan guards that heart.  Only the power of One greater than the captive can set that captive heart free!

2.  The only deliverer

...until someone stronger and better armed attacks and overcomes him and strips him of his weapons and carries off his belongings.  (Luke 11:22  TLB)

Of course, the stronger someone is none other than Jesus Himself.  Didnt Jesus previously prove Himself the stronger of the two in during his period of temptation?  Of course Jesus is stronger and better armed.  There is no contest between Satan and Jesus.

(a)  His character

Christs character is bound up in His Word, which is strong. Nothing can stop Gods Word from accomplishing that which He wants it to accomplish.  Christ the deliverer is strong enough to overcome any obstacle that stands in His way; any physical obstacle or supernatural one.  His word is strong and His work cannot be undone because it is built on a firm foundation.  Not time, not eternity, not any power of this world or the unseen world can ever hinder any part of Christs work.  Jesus Christ, the great deliverer, has come to seek and to save the lost and with Him,  nothing is impossible.

(b)  His style

Our Lord is the aggressor:  He attacks, wrote Luke.  When Jesus confronts the powers of darkness, He is not some meek, milquetoast, namby-pamby, scrawny pacifist!  He aggressively and without mercy destroys the enemys hold on the hapless, hopeless heart.  It must be this way according to Genesis 3:15-

From now on you and the woman will be enemies, as will your offspring and hers.  You will strike his heel, but he will crush your head.  (Genesis 3:15  TLB)

Thats God talking to Satan in the Garden of Eden.  As far back as then Satan knew he was on the losing end of history.  But the point to take home is this:  Jesus attacks, He does not wait around to be attacked.  Just as David went out to fight Goliath, so Jesus attacks our enemy.  David fought on behalf of Israel, and so Jesus fought on our behalf. 

I have trodden the winepress alone. No one was there to help me.  In my wrath I have trodden my enemies like grapes.  In my fury I trampled my foes.  It is their blood you see upon my clothes.  For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to redeem them from the hands of their oppressors. I looked but no one came to help them; I was amazed and appalled.  So I executed vengeance alone; unaided, I meted out judgment.  I crushed the heathen nations in my anger and them stagger and fall to the ground.  (Isaiah 63:3-6  TLB)

(c)  His victory

The great Deliverer attacks and overcomes Satan and strips him of his weapons.  What a picture of the victorious Christ!  We go back to Genesis 3, which promises the final victory of Jesus and final defeat of Satan.  Satan’s helmet was broken and crushed; his armor of darkness and dread has been destroyed.

Since we, Gods children, are human beingsmade of flesh and bloodhe became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could he die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death.  (Hebrews 2:14  TLB)

In death, Jesus broke the power of the devil!  It’s in the past tense; it’s something Jesus already did.  No human being needs to be under the sway of Satan any more.  The Bible clearly teaches that he is a defeated enemy.  Unfortunately, Satan is still around, trying desperately to convince people that he still has power.  The only power Satan has over anybody is the power they willingly give him.  The truly sad thing about mankind is that we prefer the darkness.  Many people give themselves over to Satan; they allow him to rule their hearts.  In spite of the fact that these people are miserable, Satan has duped them into thinking that HE, not Jesus, is what’s best for them.

It’s the biggest news most people have never heard:  Satan has been defeated.  Satan  has no real power.  For the Christian, this verse should engraved on our hearts:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4  TNIV)

This incident ends with an oft-quoted verse:

Anyone who is not for me is against me; if he isnt helping me, he is hurting my cause.  (Luke 11:23  TLB)

The crowd that witnessed the miracle(s) and heard what Jesus had told the religious types needed to hear verse 23.  Some in the crowd may have thought Jesus was the Messiah.  Some were on the fence.  Others were in outright opposition to Jesus.  The thing is, when it comes to Jesus, nobody can be sitting on the fence; neutrality is just not an option.  Jesus never, ever compromised with Satan, and we shouldn’t either.  But by the same token, we must be FOR Jesus, we can’t be “sort of for Him, sometimes.”  And we must be actively serving.  If we are not, we will be opposing Him.  In the Kingdom of God, there are no “lukewarm,” part-time Christians.

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