I walk in late and find the bible study group heavily involved in a discussion about naval strategy, Japanese zeros, and how one man of our group survived a kamikaze pilot missing the ship he was on by forty feet.
I sat down and said nothing - for two reasons:
- I have never been involved in combat;
- I had no idea what motivated the conversation.
As I was finishing my breakfast a clue finally arises as to what triggered this conversation –
Luke 11:21. So let’s take a look at that verse together.
Luke 11:21 NIV "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.
If you had to take this at face value what might you learn from it? It comes off as a strong position that possibly defends the right to do violence in protecting one’s personal property.
One of the men in our group quickly states that a Senator recently quoted this verse, in a public forum defining America’s right and reason, for not only going to war, but the budget behind it.
I am not so sure we can take that kind of liberty with this passage. Take a look at what Jesus told the disciples, primarily Peter, on the night that he was taken.
Matthew 26:52 AMP Then Jesus said to him, Put your sword back into its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. [Gen. 9:6.]
I tend to despise Pastors who are willing to say, “this is what he was saying.” But pay attention to the language being used. He is not denouncing them as vile sinners for considering violence. He is merely stating an obvious fact, You will die in a sword fight, especially if you are not trained to use it.
What was Jesus response to James and John when they offered to call-fire down upon a village that rejected the message.
Luke 9:54-56 NIV When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" (55) But Jesus turned and rebuked them. (56) Then he and his disciples went to another village.
The KJV (adds or includes) “You know not what manner of spirit you are of.” The majority of text and manuscripts exclude this last part.
I think we have an example of the disciples attempting their idea of the strongman role.
The Greek word for rebuke is epitimaō. If Thayer’s Greek Definitions, foremost explanation is”to show honor to.” I can assure you that Jesus was not doing that to James and John when they submitted the option of calling down fire on the Samaritans’. But if, as Thayer’s continues to define, it means to show the value of the same people they wanted dead, then that makes all the sense in the world. And certainly qualifies as a rebuke.
There is a context to everything and this is no exception. So what was the context of Luke 11:21?
This was a statement that Jesus made, while talking about interactions with demons.
Let’s ponder this idea a moment.
Go back to Luke 11:14 What provoked him to speak about the strong man?
Luke 11:14 CJB He was expelling a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute spoke; and the people were astounded.
Matthew 12:23 NIV All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
He had just spoken to the crowd in a manner which would have established a tremendous amount of faith in the heart of a receptive hearer, and now they have seen Jesus cast demons out of a man.
Matthew 12 has a parallel version of this, and adds a little insight.
Matthew 12:22-23 ESV Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. (23) And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?"
Why would the statement, “Can this be the Son of David?” cause the Jews a problem?
Let’s assume they knew who he was physically. Jesus of Nazareth; born to Mary; alleged by some to be Joseph’s son, and yet there are those statements that Jesus keeps making about God being his father.
“We know who our father is!”
In John 8:14-18 Jesus told the pharisees that he knew where he came from and where he was going. Their response:
John 8:19 MSG They said, "Where is this so-called Father of yours?" Jesus said, "You're looking right at me and you don't see me. How do you expect to see the Father? If you knew me, you would at the same time know the Father."
Having written on this before I discussed how Jesus would have been known as a Momzer (There seems to be several spellings). The heartfelt meaning behind the word is extremely hateful and derogatory - it means to be illegitimate. This is precisely the vile hatred the Pharisees were dishing out at this moment. His “heritage” was in question all his life. With this kind of hatred surrounding him most of the time it is no wonder that the Jews responded quickly to any implication that Jesus was other than a man. That meant a complete and total denial of Jesus statements about himself.
John 8:41 NIV You are doing the works of your own father." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."
“Can this be the Son of David?”
To say this in a questioning way indicates that there is an implied belief coming from the speaker, justifying the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and entitled to act as the Father would, in a supernatural way.
They knew that only God could do such things, as they just saw him do. There are few reasonable options, the Jews had one more option. Since the crowd seems to leaning toward believing that he is God, attribute his works to the devil.
Yes I know, the Jews used the term Beelzeboul.
From Thayer’s definitions: Beelzebub = “lord of the house” 1) a name of Satan, the prince of evil spirits
There is something worthy of note in Luke’s passages.
Luke 11:14-15 ESV Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. (15) But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,"
Only God has this kind of power over demons, so who are we dealing with? We cannot accept the obvious for far too many statements have been made to abase and deny him for us to back down now, therefore driven by the god of this world they make what Jesus calls blasphemous statements.
Luke’s account slides right past Jesus reaction, but Matthew’s version has Jesus responding harshly to what they said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons," by saying:
Matthew 12:31-32 AMP Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy (every evil, abusive, injurious speaking, or indignity against sacred things) can be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the [Holy] Spirit shall not and cannot be forgiven. (32) And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Spirit, the Holy One, will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come.
I suppose this is a migration off topic, but since Jesus said it, I will address it.
I have rarely ever heard anything that adequately explained what the blasphemy was that could never be forgiven. And I always chuckle when I hear Pastor Greg Laurie describe someone who says, “but Greg, I have committed the unpardonable sin and God can’t forgive me.” You don’t even know what it is and you have done it? The fact that God is drawing you to him proves otherwise.
Here it is - The Pharisees attributed his good works to the devil.
Jesus, only moments later said, “blasphemy against the Spirit (Presumed to be the Holy Spirit since the word used is pnuema, the same word to describe the Holy Spirit.)
Mark’s gospel backs this up and states it in stronger tones.
Mark 3:28-29 NIV Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, (29) but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin."
- Only God could do what he just did.
- Jesus just delivered a man from the demonic right in front of them, proving that he was God in the flesh.
- He told them that what they saw was the Spirit, the third part of the trinity.
One of the men in our group, a Catholic, was really struggling with the concept of the Trinity, and longed for someone to find passages that established the concept. Jesus verbally demonstrated the trinity in a matter of seconds.
Luke 11:17-26 NIV Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. (18) If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. (19) Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. (20) But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (21) "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. (22) But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. (23) "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (24) "When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' (25) When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. (26) Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first."
Jesus continued to speak about overpowering the strong man, Satan, for several minutes.
Did you catch that? The man’s condition could have been any number of things but Jesus attributes his condition solely to the devil. I am not sure that we can attribute everything to the devil but I believe that this moment, captured in scripture, demonstrates who we are dealing with, all the time.
I have a friend who struggles with depression and mental illness. They may never be completely well while living on this earth. How many of these issues that we deal with are demonically based?
I suppose that brings me to some other aspects of the mornings conversations.
If you believe that Luke 11:21 inspires you to get physical with someone, does that mean you are capable or that it even justifies your self-protective methods.
Someone quickly pointed out that Paul was sent out a window, by way of a basket, to make good his escape from the angry Jews that were coming to get him. (2 Cor 11:33)
How many of us think they can respond like Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, or this internet self-protection guru, Captain Chris. These, to me, are guys that are highly capable, and seemingly fearless. Any of whom could disarm you and then calmly hand your arm back to you, but I cannot do that, never could. It requires speed and agility and I have neither.
But this is a spiritual battle we are in, so how does any of that relate?
If I was a shade younger, I might train for a time when I might have to react to one of those bad moments, by learning some new skills, improving my speed, and actively practicing; in general, becoming more skillful and confident.
(Surprisingly, I had knives pulled on me twice when I was younger. I do not remember fear at all, but I had no clue what to do outside of talking. I remember being surprisingly calm and really did not expect to be injured. Later in life there have been situations that made me wish I was physically more assertive. I think many of those types of thoughts stem from ideals pushed at us by peers, and our general wish to enjoy our freedoms, especially when I am not bothering anyone.)
How do we apply what Jesus did to our own lives?; How equipped do you feel to tackle the demonic illness of someone?; How could you improve your ability to respond?
Not quite as clear-cut is it.
The beginning of any process like this is faith. Jesus had faith and confidence in the Father, not only in what the Father said, but in what He could do. There was nothing impossible to the Father, therefore there was nothing impossible to the Son. Since we are in Him, there should be nothing impossible to us either.
God made us to be in him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his Son. It is our acceptance of that mercy that brings us into this adoption. Religion will do it’s best to confuse you here, for they want to see total and absolute change in you, an instantaneous halo sprouting over your head, and a rapid and complete turn around in your actions.
Consider something. If you adopted several children of various ages, including a few video game playing, MTV watching teens, what might you expect from them? Very slow transitions to what you consider normal. Do you think God has it that much different with us?
He loved us, unworthy as we are, paid a price for us that does not make sense, and accepts us as his own, bad attitudes and all.
Yes, he does ask us to take out the trash and do the dishes once in a while, that is part of being in a family, which we are. And we call those chores trials and tribulations. Sure I am being simplistic in stating it like this, but it is the internal struggles that those chores and interactions with others create, that God uses to hone us and make us more like him while we are on this earth, in these sin broken bodies. And, it is in these sin broken, adopted bodies that we are asked to step up and be like Jesus.
You see scripture is not just a tedious collection of reading material; it is a training manual with graphic language that creates images in your spirit, demonstrating how you are to respond. No one said to Jesus, here is a demonized man, with all sorts of problems for you to figure out, now do something with him! Jesus merely did what his training had taught him to do, just like a paramedic might.
Can I gain the confidence to attack the enemy's camp merely by investing time in the Word?
I do not see why not. If that is the case, then why are there not more people willing to tackle the devil’s work in the lives of people?
Having watched a few of the Discovery Channel shows about fight science, where a couple of healthy young men learn a new fighting style which always involves physical exertion, pain, and getting severely knocked around by those who are better and perhaps stronger as they learn the new skill set, I mentally understand the pain involved in learning something like this.
Maybe God already thought through the learning curve aspect.
Obviously not everything involves pain like the martial arts, but there are many things, that by nature of their circumstances have pain included. Anything new has a learning curve; what that means is that some things take time as you build the skill sets in you to make it work most effectively. Now apply that to dealings with the demonic. Few are equipped and willing to bring others through a teaching of that nature. Jesus told us that some demons will only come out by preparation that involves much prayer; that is not something that you should do in the middle of the action, it is something that should be a lifestyle. By saying that God may have thought this all through is really taking a tremendous pressure off of us, for though it is right and necessary to prepare, Jesus already did the hard work for us.
Luke 11:22 states,
“But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.”
Someone stronger has already attacked and overpowered the “strongman”; his name is Jesus.
Along this thought line, I went to a “bible study” recently where we read the last four chapters of Paul’s letter to Timothy, and then we were asked to talk about our favorite aspect of the reading. A little inundating, but several things caught my attention.
This was one of them:
1 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (8) For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Paul is telling young Timothy, “..physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I do not suspect Paul was telling him to prepare for the day they might be thrown to the lions, merely pointing out that is has benefits.
We flew through these passages so fast. I think everyone reads just to get done with it. Odd how something catches your eye, but verse seven just jumped out at me.
“...train yourself to be godly.”
What if this book we call the bible had this title instead, “Train yourself to be Godly” How many people would even look at it? Some, but most would not. And yet this is the key to this life we live on this earth.
We are asked to be Godly, What does that look like?
It is not mandatory to wear a long trench coat of camel’s hair and live like a hermit in the desert. But God does ask us to do some hard things like: holding our tongues at times; not responding in anger; turning to the Father quickly when times get rough, and speaking and acting out the things we saw Jesus do, in Jesus name.
Paul, in writing to Timothy described the qualifications for someone who wanted to be in a place of leadership over God’s people.
1 Timothy 3:1-12 NIV Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be:
- above reproach,
- faithful to his wife,
- able to teach,
- not given to drunkenness,
- not violent but gentle,
- not quarrelsome,
- not a lover of money.
- He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.
- He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.
- He must also have a good reputation with outsiders,
- be worthy of respect,
- They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
As I look at these, they are my desires for my life, and yes, most of these, in my mind, disqualify me. Some, like myself, might say, but I do not have the wish to lead, therefore these traits may not apply to me so strictly. These then could be looked at as some of the major things that define a Godly life, and really just a better way to live.
Wouldn’t it be nice if more people lived like this?
In terms of qualifications – Moses, though educated, murdered a man. Most would compare his bad moments against this list and disqualify him too, but God looks upon the heart and God is the one that makes the call as to whether you are supposed to lead or not. If God wants it to happen he will make it happen.
I hope I made some sense. As I read I think through what I am reading, and most of the time this is about the way I see it. Staying on track and focused can tend to be an issue with me. I have actually been working on this “paper” for over a week, and I have had so many other ways God has talked to me. I pray you find something in here that speaks to you. Please read the passages, that is one of the reasons why I include them. I believe it is so important for you read them for yourself. The Word of God will give an insight into who He is better than any man can do just telling you about Him. I guess that means you need to hear His voice for yourself.
I truly believe that we are in the last days. These are the days that Peter spoke of on the day of Pentecost when he quoted from Joel chapter 2. Joel chapter 2 is talking about the end, specifically the time of Jacob’s trouble. But here is what I want you to see. These people that Peter describes are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and through that power they withstand the enemy.
Here is an example:
2 Kings 1:1-10 NIV After Ahab's death, Moab rebelled against Israel. (2) Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, "Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury." (3) But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' (4) Therefore this is what the LORD says: 'You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!'" So Elijah went. (5) When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, "Why have you come back?" (6) "A man came to meet us," they replied. "And he said to us, 'Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, "This is what the LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!"'" (7) The king asked them, "What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?" (8) They replied, "He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist." The king said, "That was Elijah the Tishbite." (9) Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, "Man of God, the king says, 'Come down!'" (10) Elijah answered the captain, "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!" Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
This happened twice. The third time the captain that came pleaded for mercy from the man of God and Elijah came with him.
The day is coming, and for some that day is here. Find out who you are! Find out who God is inside of you! It is time to open your mouth and declare “If I be a man of God ….” What ever needs to be done. We are fighting a spiritual battle first and foremost, never forget that, humans and beasts will bow their knee to the name and power of Jesus Christ.
Having recently discovered the Chronicles of Narnia, let me say. We are free Narnians, all of us adopted, but some have never known not being free men. As kings and queens of this fair land we need to act like it. Act like nobility that God has made us to be.