February 24, 2008

Jesus Dominates the Devil - Feb 24, 2008

Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When I was a teenager my summers were filled with baseball. I played on a team in the local Babe Ruth league.

Once the season started we pretty much played every week, and once in a while we’d get to travel to another town to play in a tournament. The teams we played were made up of kids that were our age. So, the playing field was pretty level. But once in a while we’d face a team that had a big kid.

I remember playing against one team that had a very mature catcher, to say the least. We didn’t ask to see his birth certificate, but my bet is that he could have bought his team a round of drinks after the game if he had wanted to.

We had absolutely no chance of stealing second base on this catcher. As long as his laser throw didn’t put a hole in the second baseman, we were toast. His ability was far beyond ours. He as out of our league. In a word, he dominated us.

When sinful people stand toe to toe with temptation, the Devil dominates them. His power is far beyond theirs. He is out of their league. In a word, the Devil dominates sinful men and women.

But when the Son of God came down from heaven, the Devil met his match. Actually, the Devil met his defeat. For while sinners are no match for the powers of the Devil, the Devil is no match for Jesus.

Today in our sermon meditation we’ll see a few ways in which Jesus Dominates the Devil.

We pray: Holy Spirit, You recorded these things for our learning. Strengthen our faith and educate our minds by Your Holy Word. Amen.

Matthew 12:22-29 (NASB)

22Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. 23All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?"

24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."

25And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29“Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.”

These are the words of God.

In John 8:44 we are told that the Devil is the father of lies. And since he was the one who tempted Adam and Eve to sin in the first place, we also might call the Devil the father of all sin and suffering. Every pain you’ve ever felt has come to you because of the sin that Satan brought into this world by tempting our first parents.

When we see the world in this light, we begin to understand that every healing Jesus did was a demonstration of His power over the Devil. Each time Jesus healed a sick person, opened the eyes of the blind, or made a paralyzed person walk, He was taking back what the Devil had stolen.

Some of the people Jesus healed were medically sick. Others had been taken over by evil spirits. And some, like the man in our reading were afflicted in both ways.

This man was possessed by a demon who had taken away his ability to see and his ability to speak. We aren’t told who, but someone brought this poor demon-possessed man to Jesus. And there the forces of good and evil collided.

But our text doesn’t describe much of a fight, does it? When Jesus saw the man’s terrible condition, He quickly tore the demon out of the man, and gave him back what the demon had taken – his sight and speech.

The Bible tells us,

“…The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8 NIV).

By healing the sick and casting out demons Jesus was fixing what the devil had broken. And by healing these effects of sin, Jesus was destroying the Devil’s work.

But healing sicknesses and casting out demons was only part of Jesus’ work. And not the most important part by far. Jesus demonstrated His dominance over the Devil by casting one demon from this one man. Jesus further demonstrated His dominance by restoring health to many sick people. But Jesus would completely humiliate the Devil by taking away the Devil’s favorite weapon: our sin.

If the movie writers of Hollywood had written the story of salvation they probably would given Jesus a big machine gun and a never ending clip of ammunition – just like Rambo. But Jesus’ battle to set sinners free from the power of the Devil is a spiritual battle. It isn’t a battle won with brute force and armor piercing rounds. Jesus had to be wise. He had to shrewdly secure the sinner’s release. And he did so in a way that we never would have guessed.

Jesus displayed some of His shrewdness when He struck down the arguments of the Pharisees in our text. After Jesus had miraculously cast the demon out of this man, restoring both his sight and his speech, the Pharisees who hated Jesus tried to spin the events to make Jesus look bad. They claimed,

…This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of demons.” (Matthew 12:24 NASB).

Beelzebul is simply another name for Satan. They were actually accusing Jesus of being demon possessed!

Patient and powerful Jesus didn’t unleash His fury on the Pharisees. He hadn’t yet come to judge the world. That would come later. This time He had come to save the world. So, for the benefit of all who heard, Jesus unleashed His wisdom and cut down the devious lies and argument of the Pharisees.

First, Jesus pointed out how stupid it would be for Satan to turn against his own demons. No country engaged in a civil war can stand against a united country. No city whose citizens are warring against each other can last for long. No family that seeks to hurt its own can remain a family. Satan is evil, but he isn’t stupid. He knows better than to fight his own when they can join together and fight against the human race.

Secondly, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Their own people were going out to cast demons. Surely they approved when their own did this, but when Jesus began casting out demons, then it was somehow proof that He was in league with the Devil! Instead of proving that Jesus was evil, their foolish statements just showed that they hated Him without cause.

For the faithless, what God’s servants do is never right. When John the Baptizer came teaching in the wilderness, the Pharisees said, “This guy doesn’t drink wine, dresses funny, and lives out in the wilderness – he’s obviously got a demon!” But when Jesus came teaching in the cities, the Pharisees said, “This guy goes to feasts and drinks wine, what a glutton, what a drunkard!” (see Matthew 11:18-19).

Jesus endured the hateful words of the Pharisees and all the Devil’s temptations and evil plots because He was on a mission to save sinners.

I’m sure we’ve all see a movie in which the hero allows himself to be taken captive as part of the plan to beat the bad guys. The hero might have to put up with a beating, or at least the gloating of his enemies for a time, but just at the crucial moment the hero breaks free and wins the day.

Jesus did this in a very real sense. As the sinless Son of God, He was above sin. But He allowed the sins of the world to be placed on His shoulders and on His spiritual record. He endured the pains and suffering of life because of our sins. On the cross He endured the wrath of God because of the world’s sins. Because Jesus had no sin of His own, death had no power over Him. But on the cross, Jesus even placed Himself under death, in full obedience to the Father.

In Philippians we read:

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV).

By healing the sick and casting out demons Jesus showed that He had power over sin and the Devil. By suffering the punishment for our sins and dying on the cross, Jesus showed His complete and utter dominance over Satan by taking away our sin and punishment.

Through Jesus we now stand spotless in the sight of God. More than that, because of Jesus God the Father is delighted when He looks down on you and I.

To the unbelieving Pharisees Jesus said,

…if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28 NASB).

As long as the Pharisees refused to acknowledge that Jesus was the Savior sent from God, they would remain blind to the kingdom of God. Their hearts would not be ruled by God, but by Satan. Their sinful desires would continue to push them around. And death would one day separate them from God forever.

But some saw Jesus’ miracles as evidence of the truth of His message. Those people were seeing the kingdom of God appearing right among them. Those people were beginning to experience the rule of God in their hearts. The gracious rule of God comes by faith in Christ, and brings peace, security and strength.

Jesus completes His dominance over the Devil by sharing His dominance with His family. Those who know Christ by faith are given power over Satan and all the forces of evil.

In the last words of our text Jesus said,

Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Matthew 12:29 NASB).

Through the cross, Jesus has tied up the Devil, sin and death for us. Now we rule over them.

In the book of Romans it says,

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33 NIV).

In Hebrew, the name “Satan” means accuser. But Satan cannot accuse us before the throne of God when we stand beside God’s Son through faith. As the reformation hymn says,

“This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none, He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him” (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, TLH 262).

That little word is Jesus.

In our lives, sin cannot push us around any longer. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, giving us the power to say no to sin and to live holy lives in service to God. The Bible says,

11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14 NIV).

Jesus also shares His dominance over death with us. For those who do not trust in God, death is very frightening. For death comes to take them away from God forever. But for the Christian, the roaring lion of death has become a little kitten beside the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. With Jesus at our side, we need not fear the separation of soul from body. When death comes to the Christian, the Christian goes to be with God!

To the Christians of Philippi, Paul wrote,

23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 4:11-12 NIV).

Paul looks on death with no fear. To him death is but a cab driver who arrives just when God tells him to in order to drive God’s servants home.

One of our earlier Scripture readings said that those who receive the grace of God will “reign in life” through Jesus Christ. When I look around this room I don’t see crowns of gold. I don’t see powerful politicians and warlords. But looks are deceiving, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for you are not just trade workers, and nurses. You are not just administrators and house wives. You are not just children and store clerks. You are the rulers of this world. You rule here and now, in Christ.

Does that sound funny to say that your are rulers of this world? What else would you call people who cannot be accused by Satan, cannot be dominated by sin, cannot be harmed by death and will live in glory forever at the side of God?

The kingdom of God has come upon you, through Christ Jesus. Live as His royal family, in holiness, with happiness, in peace and with power. And always remember that Jesus dominated sin, death and the Devil, and because of Him, now so do you.


-Pastor Caleb Schaller

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