According to Matthew 12:22-32 some might assume that Jesus emphatically means that Satan cannot or will not give power to people to perform exorcisms of his own “house." When Jesus says, “A House divided against itself cannot stand,” does he mean that demonic work will never be initiated against other demons by the prince of demons?
|Satan's House of Cards will topple|
First, I would like to say that Satan, Lucifer, all other demonic forces, and our enemies house, will not stand in the end. Lucifer the angel of light is a defeated foe. He will be toppled like a house of cards. There is no power in his house that God does not grant. God is the ultimate power in the universe (Colossians 1:15-20), and Satan bows to His will (Job 1-2). Jesus says in those same words, "how can his house stand?” That is a good question. How can his house stand? The house of lies, evil, wickedness, and destruction cannot stand on the final day. His house will fall tumbling down before the judgement of the righteous judge (Revelation 12:7-10 1 Corinthians 15:24-26). Until that time when the Lord of heaven's armies destroys once and for all the works of the enemy (Revelation 20:10), we are given the authority over his power and forces in the mighty name of Jesus (Colossians 2:15; James 4:7-8).
Second, Satan certainly does work against himself. The question is, does he ever work to cast demons out of people? Jesus is certainly correct here when he intonates that Satan hopes to destroy people by possessing them, And does not cast himself out of people. He would rather continue possessing people. What do we know about Satan? He is deceptive, a liar, evil, and will do anything to make us take our eyes off of Christ (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11 John 8:44). If he can use "Catholic exorcisms,” “demonology,” or any other such bizarre practices, he will do it. He will lie, deceive and otherwise seek to throw the church and its Saints into confusion by "accusing us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10)." He often succeeds in this task through confusing us with supernatural events.
Thirdly, as Jesus did this miracle of freeing this demonized man, Satan had done well at throwing the people into confusion. The people asked, "can this be the son of David?" The Pharisees seeing the power slowly slipping through their fingers, made a stunning accusation that Jesus was doing these works by Satan's power. Jesus returns accusation with accusation. “If I cast out demons by Beelzebub by whom do your sons cast them out?” In other words, exorcisms were a practice of the Pharisees and their sons. Were the Pharisees saved? Were their sons? Did they trust Jesus? Did they cast out demons in the name of Jesus even? The answer is probably "NO" to all these questions. Then how were they able to cast out demons? How are nonbelievers able to cast out demons? This is the difficulty in saying then that "signs and wonders” are confirmation that a movement is from God. That is why Jesus himself said, "do not believe me unless I do the works of the Father,” and "I only speak what the father has spoken.” What are the works of the Father? The word of God are His works. His gospel and repentance into new life are His works. Jesus did those works and spoke that truth from the Father during His earthly ministry.
How are people able to navigate in the supernatural and not be Christians? How are people, Catholics, Animists, Witches, and those in the Occult, able to perform seemingly miraculous exorcisms. How are supposed Christians able to perform such works, and as Jesus said be, "wolves in sheep's clothing?” How did these sons of the Pharisees cast out demons as Jesus says?
It is true that people are able to navigate in the supernatural by the power of the enemy. The Bible makes it plain that false prophets will be able to do wonders by another power that is not from God. Now whether or not they cast out demons by Beelzebub or some other power then becomes unclear because of Jesus words. But it is rather clear that these false prophets will navigate with "signs and wonders" through another power. We see this clearly throughout biblical history. Some have been able to exercise power over spirits and demons through other supernatural powers. Many false prophets did great wonders but did not work through the power of the God of Israel. One possibility is that these powers could just be a natural powers. This is certainly possible. We see powers like this at work in world religions that deny that there even is a supernatural world. In contrast there are many religions that embrace the supernatural and use that power to their advantage. The Occult for instance, embraces evil, wickedness, and anything that goes against Christianity. The Occult embraces the manipulation of supernatural powers, even though it is clear that Satan is manipulating those who practice such things. Other such occult religions are Animism, Wicca, Satanism, New Age, etc.
People can also navigate in the supernatural in Jesus name, and NOT be followers of Christ. Acts 19 describes such a story. Seven sons of a high priest name Sceva adjured the name of Jesus upon people who were possessed by demons. And they were successful up to a point. Until one day they encountered a Demon who answered them, but did not recognize their authority, and gave them such a beating that it says the demonized man, "sent them out of the house bleeding and naked." Jesus himself describes the day of judgement where those who have cast out demons, healed people, and done mighty works in Jesus name will be condemned and rejected by Christ. How will they do that? Why would God allow false teachers to do that in Christ's name? I tend to think God loves deliverance no matter how it happens. Jesus came to, "seek and to save that which was lost.” I also believe that the gospel has a better chance to take hold of a delivered and free person because that person is free. Their eyes and ears are then maybe more open to the message of the gospel. I think of the demoniac. When Jesus delivered him he wanted immediately to go with Jesus. Jesus did not let him come with them. Why not? Because Jesus knew he would become an immediate evangelist. And he did. He went to his hometown and told everyone about what Jesus had done. However, we know that miracles do not make an immediate convert. I think of the ten lepers. Only one came back to thank Jesus! “Where are the other nine?" Jesus asked. He did that to point out that healing and even deliverance from demons is not tantamount to repentance and faith. It can be used to direct people's attention to Christ, but the words of the gospel of repentance are necessary for a second birth. The holy spirit can and is using all of these events to draw people to Christ.
Jesus goes on to say, “If the Spirit of God casts out demons then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” And what do we know about that kingdom? It is a kingdom of repentance! Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus goes on to describe the kingdom. One power must be overtaken for a new power to move in. So the devil has much control over this world, which is given and allowed him by the sovereign God. Even so his power is limited. In the heart of a Christian, Jesus has moved in after the strongman’s kingdom was overthrown. In so doing Jesus, "destroys the works of the devil." He is doing so and continues to do so, so that his kingdom of repentance and forgiveness of sins can take hold instead of the "strong man’s" evil kingdom. Jesus has come to plunder his house!
Jesus said, “When salt loses its saltiness it is no longer good for anything but to be trampled under foot by men.” The only way salt can lose its saltiness it's to be chemically altered by dilution or pollution. So either the church dilutes the message of the gospel and makes it about "signs and wonders” where the message of repentance and faith in the gospel is not presented, or we maintain the full message of the saltiness of the gospel. Salt that Jesus is referring to is the flavor and preservation of the true message of Christ. Do we seek to preserve the salty gospel or are we letting it be diluted? The other way that salt loses its saltiness chemically is by the introduction of a pollutant. I'm thinking of a pollutant as false teaching, false gospel, false message, or sin. In these words Jesus is asking us to keep the purity of the gospel message clear. The simple gospel must remain undiminished, unadulterated, and unpolluted in the face of the works of the devil. The gospel message stands the test of time, even in the face of confusing supernatural phenomena. Signs and wonders do not prove the work of Christ, but rather should only confirm the message of the gospel. When the gospel is not preached alongside “signs and wonders” we should be very suspicious that the power is from God, and that the salt has not lost its saltiness.