Sunday, July 08, 2012

Luke 11:14-28 - Jesus on Unclean Spirits

Jesus heals a mute man
Have you ever wished you could pull back the curtain of reality and see the goings on in the spiritual world? Like that time a vehicle swerved at you with a driver’s face filled with terror and did what was impossible, it missed you. You wonder what really happened and how. Was an angel there protecting you? Or just your imagination? 

If we could see things in the spirit world, we would probably be amazed and terrified at the same time. Like when you are unable to make certain self-destructive thoughts stop in your mind and you can’t understand why they keep coming at you. Or you try to understand spiritual truth and feel blocked, like you are pounding on a glass. Or those shameful images that keep playing relentlessly over and over in your head. Or an unpleasant encounter with a person that gives you the heebie-jeebies, or that nagging feeling that you just got manipulated, or slimed, or defiled to the point that you’d like to take a shower. These are spiritual battles that rage around us constantly. The Apostle Paul says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against a host of spiritual forces in the spirit realm (Eph 6:12).
Jesus’ presence then and now stirs up and upsets our demonic foes. Preaching straight through every verse of a book of the Bible causes us to deal with passages and issue we don’t ordinarily talk about but sometimes wonder about. In this sermon we see Jesus minister to a man with a demonic spirit which caused him to be mute, and from that encounter, Jesus teaches us a number of strategies to deal with the enemy of our souls.

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 11:14-28 to teach believers that in regard to dealing with unclean spirits, we are called to operate under the authority of Jesus and in allegiance, faith, and obedience to Jesus.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about how to deal with unclean spirits.
Pray and Read:  Luke 11:14-28

Sermon Points:
1.   Operate in the Authority of Jesus (Luke 11:14-20)
2.   Operate in Allegiance to Jesus (Luke 11:21-23)
3.   Operate in Faith in Jesus (Luke 11:24-26)
4.   Operate in Obedience to Jesus (Luke 11:27-28)

Contextual Notes:
Let’s set out a few basics of what the Bible teaches about the spirit realm. First, the ultimate authority is the Living God. Satan, the Devil is not equal with God, but is only an angel who fell from his lofty position through rebellion in which he led a number of other angels to rebel. Those other fallen angels are called demons. They were cast out of heaven. God created Adam and Eve as the crown of His Creation, to be made in His image, to have a relationship with God, and to have authority over the earth. With no authority on earth, the devil pursued a successful strategy of deceiving the first two humans into disobeying their Creator. He knew that if they would sin, he could usurp some of their authority for his own, and most importantly, break their relationship with a holy God, destroy those who are most important to God, and thereby hurt God in the process.
Demonic strategy since the time of Adam and Eve has been to deceive the crown of God’s creation, human beings, in order to gain more authority and to defile and destroy God’s treasured creation by forcing them to worship and serve him instead of the Creator. Once the devil was defeated at the Cross, the devil now has a strategy to drag as many people down with him as he can. He attacks and destroys lives, sabotages the church and undermines its witness through sin. He blinds the minds of unbelievers to the Good News. 
But he doesn’t do so well up against Jesus. When the devil or his demonic forces encounter Jesus, they immediately submit to his overwhelming authority. The simple presence of Jesus makes demons tremble and flee.
The section from Luke 11:14-17:11 is called the Perean Discourses, during a time of ministry in Perea from about September of 28 to April of 29 when he returned to Jerusalem for his last week of ministry. Luke is the only record of these days and teachings with the exception of Matthew 12:22-45 and a few incidents in John 10:22-42; 11:1-45; 11:46-54. Luke records parables and discourses, but not many incidents, possibly because it was winter. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was marked with parables and sermons, too. Thus, Jesus resumes and repeats with more fullness some of the teaching he had given in Galilee.
In chapter ten we saw seventy spokesmen, one Samaritan, and two sisters. In chapter 11, Jesus instructs his friends on prayer (Luke 11:1-13) and then indicts his foes (Luke 11:14-54) in a series of controversies climaxing at Luke 11:54.
Exposition:   Note well,

a.   (|| Mark 3:22-27; Matt 12:22-30). The first controversy is the result of Jesus’ driving out a demon from a mute man. The demon was not mute, but the effect of on the man was being unable to speak.
b.   APPLICATION: Demons are not all-powerful, but they would love for you to think they are. The truth is that they MUST obey the authority of Christ (Luke 10:17; 1 John 4:4).
c.   Luke 11:16: Isaiah 35:6 tells us that the healing of the mute is a sign of God’s end-time salvation. Here is a sign. They ask for a sign, but they do not recognize the signs they want to see.
d.   Jesus has his armchair quarterbacks, the cynics who won’t do anything themselves, won’t make any commitments themselves, but their ignorant mouths have plenty to contribute. Jesus’ opponents accuse him of casting out the demons by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Who is Beelzebub? The text says he is the prince of demons. Some interpret that as Satan himself. [1] Others attribute the name to another powerful demon serving the Devil himself. The NIV, KJV, and Latin supply “Beel-zebub” from 2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6. The beel comes from the Canaanite god Baal, meaning lord. Zebub means flies, thus Baal-Zebub means “lord of flies.” The Greek text actually reads “Beelzeboul,”[2] meaning lord of the temple. The Israelites, mocking the name, liked the Aramaic meaning of Beelzeboul: “lord of dung” (Judges 10:6; 2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6, 16). In other words, whoever it is, this filthy spirit produces only one thing with the authority it has usurped through sin.
e.   The way the Jews did exorcism involved hours-long incantations meant to torture a demon resident in a person. The person’s dignity was marred, and the demon usually would not leave. The Jewish exorcists had to result to old-fashioned witchcraft to do their work successfully.[3] They had to call on stronger demons with more authority than the demon the person had in order to drive out the lesser demon. The result was that the person was in worse shape after the exorcism. Jesus with ultimate authority drove out the demons with a word, preserving the victim’s human dignity. Jesus’ powers were so overwhelming that the Pharisees decided there could be only one explanation: Jesus must be channeling the prince of all demons himself.
f.    Jesus points out two flaws in their argument: (1) It would be foolish for Satan to cast out his own demonic forces, since a house or kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Luke 11:17-18), and (2) He notes that they are accusing their own followers who claim to drive out demons (Luke 11:19).
g.   Jesus’ point is that instead, the defeat of demons is the work of God and not Satan, and it reveals the presence and power of God’s kingdom (Luke 11:20). Luke is referring back to Exodus 8:19 where Pharaoh’s magicians recognize the “finger of God” in Moses’ miracles. The Ten Commandments were inscribed by the “finger of God” (Exod 31:18; Deut 9:10). Psalm 8:3 says the heavens are the work of God’s fingers. It is important that Jesus compares himself to the story of Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians, because Moses was demonstrating that his power came from the one true God.
a.   Jesus says that Satan is like a strong man whose stronghold is being disarmed and overpowered by Jesus, the stronger Man (Luke 11:20-23). In a parallel passage, Mark presents a household robbery (Mark 3:27), but Luke presents a picture of warfare from Isaiah 49:25, with two powers battling over a stronghold. Through his ministry of deliverance, Jesus is disarming Satan and taking the spoils (the precious people bound by him) away from him. Dividing the spoils is a reference to Isaiah 53:12 and the Suffering Servant’s ultimate victory at the End.
b.   Luke 11:23 – Jesus says that in this warfare, no one can be neutral. Everyone must choose a side. He also uses a shepherding image to say that whoever does not gather with him is scattering. Those who argue that this verse is a contradiction of Luke 9:50b (“He who is not against you is for you”) have not read the verses in context. In both statements Jesus teaches the impossibility of neutrality in regard to Jesus. One commentator gives “an admirable principle of judgment: ‘Am I on Christ’s side actively and positively?” No? Then I am against him. . . . But my brother? Is he working against Christ? No? Then he is to be welcomed as for him.’ Tolerance toward others; strictness toward oneself.”[4]
3.   OPERATE IN FAITH IN JESUS (Luke 11:24-26)
a.   Jesus then warns of the danger of spiritual cleaning without the inward spiritual renewal that comes with the kingdom of God (Luke 11:24-26). Jesus with ingenious brevity subverts their argument and turns it back on them, showing them to be guilty. He says that not he, but they are servants of Satan. He cast demons out, but they invite them back in greater numbers as a nation.
b.   Luke 11:26 – Seven other spirits: The number seven emphasizes a greater control over the man, in parallel to the seven-fold spirit of God (Rev 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6). Jesus reveals how he viewed the nation of Israel as an unclean nation. John had called them to repentance, and they were swept clean, but they have rejected Jesus and their condition at the end would be worse than before.
c.   APPLICATION: It is not enough just to ask forgiveness for sin. We must submit our lives to Jesus’ authority in faith.
4.   SPIRITUAL LIVING (Luke 11:27-28)
a.   Jesus’ teaching on dealing with demons is interrupted by a woman in the crowd who shouts out praise for the woman who bore Jesus, literally, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and breasts at which you nursed” (Luke 1:42). Praising the mother was a common way of giving accolades to a child.
b.   Jesus, however, points her back to what is most important – obedience to the Word of God (Luke 11:28)

F.F. Bruce, gen. ed. The International Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 1207.
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), 610-5.
S. MacLean Gilmour, “Luke.” George Arthur Buttrick, gen. ed., The Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952), 8: 205-11.
Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993), 220.
Dwight J. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 305-7.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Wheaton: Victor, 1994), 236.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion (Wheaton: Victor, 1991), 662.
David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, gen. eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 323-4.
Strauss, Mark. “Luke.” Vol. 1. Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed. Zondervan Illustratied Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1: 420-2.
Swindoll, Charles R. and Bryce Klabunde, The Declaration of Something Mysterious: A Study of Luke 10:38-16:18 (Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1995), 17-24.
Van der Toorn, Karel, Bob Becking, and Peter W. van der Horst, eds., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Boston: Brill, 1999), 154-5.
Wilmington, Harold L. The Outline Bible (Nashville: Tyndale House, 199), 536-8.

[1] None of the forms of Beel-zabub or Beel-zabul have ever been found in Jewish literature as a name for Satan.
[2] i.e., NA27, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, p45, Bezae, Ephraemi Rescriptus.
[3] This is partly the reason for Qaballah, a Jewish form of witchcraft and trafficking in unclean spirits of Babylonian  cultural origin.
[4] IB, 8:209.