Summary: As we have entered the holy season of Lent, you will notice how stern the readings have become. Today we hear about demon possession, Jesus’ rebukes, wickedness compounded, and more.
Sermon: Competing Kingdoms
Text: Luke 11:14-28
Occasion: Lent III
Where: Arbor House
When: Sunday, Feb 27, 2005
Where: Providence REC
When: Sunday, Mar 6, 2005
Where: TI Morning Prayer
When: Friday Mar 11, 2005
Who: Mark Woolsey
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As we have entered the holy season of Lent, you will notice how stern the readings have become. Today we hear about demon possession, Jesus’ rebukes, wickedness compounded, and more. This is a time to examine our lives, to take St John’s admonishment with renewed emphasis when he says:
"Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (I John 3:3)
Examine your lives, repent of your sins, and believe in the only One who can deliver you.
Today’s Gospel presents us with some very interesting facts. It is primarily a description of the conflict between two kingdoms, two opposing armies, Christ’s utter defeat of Satan, and the relationship of these to the word of God. However, we need to be careful how we interpret this passage or we will miss it’s main purpose.
First of all, we need to have a proper understanding of demons and their work. For the most part today we are, if I may make up a new word, "ademonists". Just as an athiest is one who disbelieves in God, so an "ademonist" is one who disbelieves in fallen angels. These people, if they believe the Bible at all, treat all encounters with demons in the Bible as simply "prescientific attempts to explain various sicknesses or other catastrophes". This, of course, is great strategy for Satan because who will be on guard against an enemy that he does not think exists? In fact, Martin Luther makes the point that if your Satan is too small, then your God is, too. If Satan does not exist, or is of no consequence, then who needs God to defeat Him? From the Gospels and Acts, however, we learn that demons are intelligent and wicked but bodiless beings who ever desire to injure us and redirect our worship from the one, true, Triune God, to themselves or something else. They are personal, having desires and wills, and work in concert with each other. They consciously, rather than simply by instinct, make plans and execute them. We must be always viligent against their wiles.
III. Exorcism manual?
Well, if ignoring the devil is bad advice, then misunderstanding his works and intentions is no better. There are those that read passages such as today’s and conclude we need to do the same thing today. Since we are to imitate Jesus - just as our Epistle reading tells us - then we should pray to cast out demons. Indeed, sickness and calamaties all trace their origin back to Satan and his original disobedience. There still may be times for exorcism. However, much more insidious is the devil’s attack upon the Gospel. If we see this section of the Bible as a manual for casting out demons of muteness and other such maladies, I think we miss it’s main purpose. The devil’s primary purpose against us is not simply to harm us physically, but to damn us forever, attempting to frustrate God’s work. As John says in his Gospel:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (Jn 10:10)
IV. True Spiritual Warfare.
When we read that Jesus cast out a mute demon, not only do we take it at face value - which is very important - we also must realize this is a lesson for us. What Jesus accomplished in the physical realm the church needs to carry out in the spiritual. In all of Scripture, the main concentration of physical, demonic activity is when our Lord Himself was physically on the earth, and shortly thereafter. Many times the Scriptures illustrate our spiritual woes by manifestations in the physical. When the Bible records that a mute demon was afflicting someone, we need to see that to this day Satan mutes the praise of God by shutting up people’s mouths. When we see our Lord speak a word and cast out this demon, today we need to faithfully proclaim God’s word to this world so that more mouths may lift up worthy praise to their Creator. Is your praise of God muted? Do you neglect to offer up joyous worship to Him on a regular basis? If so, get out the Psalter and speak His words back to Him. That’s what we are doing today.
V. Grace Alone.
Another thing we need to notice about this confrontation between the two kingdoms is that there are no half-measures. How many times have you heard it said that Jesus waits patiently outside the door of your life, knocking on it and desiring admission? That he’s a gentleman and will not come in unless He’s invited? Let me illustrate: