Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have sent Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh, that He might overcome the devil, and defend us poor sinners against the adversary: We give thanks to You for Your merciful help, and we beseech You to attend us with Your grace in all temptations, to preserve us from carnal security, and by Your Holy Spirit to keep us in Your Word in Your fear, that we may be delivered from the enemy, and obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen
Grace to you and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled.
15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.
17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.
18 “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub.
19 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
20 “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.
22 “But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
23 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says,`I will return to my house from which I came.’
25 “And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order.
26 “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth, Your word is truth. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
Can you identify the works of the devil in our text? One was obvious. A demon possessed a man in our text. The crowd thought they spotted another work of the devil. But there isn’t any possible way for the crowd to have been more wrong. They accused Jesus of doing the work of the devil. It is a ridiculous and blasphemous claim that Jesus was in league with the devil.
There are two ways in which the devil is working in our text. We’ll first talk about the more obvious one, the demon who possessed a man and prevented him from speaking. Demon possession was a common thing that Jesus encountered during His ministry. Jesus exercised His authority casting out many demons. He also sent out His disciples and the 70 to go preach the kingdom of God, and when He sent them He gave them the authority to cast out demons.
Many dismiss demon possession as something that only happens in sci-fi movies. Materialists believe that demon possession was simply an explanation that a more primitive people used for conditions that couldn’t explain medically. But we know that the Bible is reliable and true, and if the Bible says that Jesus cast out a demon, we know Jesus cast out a demon.
We know this. But we should also acknowledge that this supernatural demonic work is not only a phenomenon that happened ages ago, but the devil is still active in these ways today.
He is particularly active in places where people use supernatural means to look into things God has not revealed to them. In parts of the world, it is common for people to seek answers from spirits, the dead, and so on. They open themselves and their homes and their minds to the devil and his demons. This is most common in places like Africa and Haiti. But in just the past few years, Christian church bodies in Europe have had to train many of their clergy to deal with demonic activity, because of the dramatic increase of those occurrences.
There is no question demonic activity happens here in the U.S. Through seances, Ouija boards, divination, spells, and so on people open themselves and their homes up to these attacks of the devil, which is manifested by home infestations, mental attacks, and even physical attacks, and in more rare cases demon possession.
The answer to the man possessed by a demon was Jesus and His Word. So also it is today. Jesus and His mighty word is the answer to the demonic supernatural activity today.
But what is the other activity of the devil that was taking place in our text? While some of the people were accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the authority of the prince of demons, it was really in the people observing Jesus that the devil was working causing them to blaspheme and test Him.
And this work of the devil is more deadly than any supernatural manifestation he could muster. It was through lies and deceptions that he caused Adam and Eve to fall into sin, and under the just wrath of God. He has brought all hearts and minds under the darkness of unbelief, so that the state of mankind is as Paul describes, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.… There is no fear of God before their eyes.” It is the devil’s work that people do not believe in Christ, but rather believe in lies about Him, and that say all sorts of falsehood about Him. They say that He is in league with Satan. They say that Jesus was merely a good teacher. They say that His death had no atoning benefit for us. They deny His resurrection. They speak evil of the Church, which He purchased with His own blood, which He sanctified through water, and made one with Himself. They are so blinded that they refuse to believe in Him. They tested Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, though they have seen numerous irrefutable signs of His divinity. Against the witness of their own eyes and ears they reject Him. Against the sure word of Scripture, they reject Jesus and His salvation.
With the evil in their hearts, they shouted for the death of the Lord of Life crying out, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” And they continue to oppose Christ and His Church, and they strive against all righteousness, such as you see in the bloodlust of the pro-abortion cause.
Under the power of the devil, and his lies and deceit, they remain under God’s wrath, and are on the path to eternal destruction.
We need to be on guard against the lies and deceit of the devil, the heresies about Christ and His salvation. For by Satan’s lies and deceit, he tries to lead us into misbelief, despair, and any other shameful sin and vice. More than possessing you, and afflicting you mentally or physically, he wants to put doubt in your mind about Christ and His Word, so that you may be separated from your Savior, and suffer hell eternally. Thus, he says, Christ is really not your Savior. You must accomplish your salvation. He is not your Lord. You are your own lord. That is real freedom. He tries to get you to question Christ’s love for you, pointing you to all your difficulties in life and saying, “I guess you’re on your own.”
The devil is not going to work against himself. He and his house, and all his demons are against you. If he’s got you imprisoned, he’s going to keep it that way. If not, he’s trying with all his might to bind you in the darkness of unbelief. He is the strong man, and we lack the powers to fight.
The devil will not topple his own kingdom. But Christ toppled it. Jesus is the stronger man, who has overcome the devil. By His death on the cross and His resurrection, He has done away with sin, He crushed the serpent’s head, and defeated death.
And it is the Word of Christ that frees us from bondage. In your baptism, which is the Word connected with water, an exorcism took place. Satan was cast from the throne of your hearts. His hold on you which blinded you in unbelief was released. Christ pictures it for us in baptism. In baptism, He comes to you, finds you in Satan’s house, with the water, He claims you as His own, and takes you away to Himself that you may know Him and be cleansed of your sin, and have life in His kingdom.
So then as we live in our baptismal waters, that is as we live the life of repentance of our sins, and receiving by faith Christ’s Word of forgiveness, and the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper that unites us with our living Christ, the devil cannot harm us. In the watery places of baptism, in which God’s believers live, the devil cannot touch us.
And so today receiving the Word of Christ, the devil is again cast away from us. Even if you have fallen for the lies of the devil. Even if you have fallen victim to him, bound and chained, hear now, you are forgiven all of your sins on account of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, and thus you are freed! You are the spoils of the victory Christ has won. And not only do you have that Word that delivers you, but you also have here for you the true body and blood of Christ! You are united with the Lord, who by that very body and blood conquered the devil!
Blessed, indeed are we, who hear the word of God, and keep it! That is, blessed are we who by the gift of God’s grace repent of our sins and receive by faith, the good news of Christ’s forgiveness. By that Word, we are saved from sin, death, and the devil.
We are saved, then to live as God’s people, who know Him, who love Him, who delight in His Word, and who live in righteousness as lights in the world glorifying our Father in heaven.
And so we pray, that the stronger man, Jesus Christ, would preserve us in His conquering Word, and that His Word may also free many who remain under the captivity of the devil. May our Lord, Jesus, increase His spoils to the glory of His name and to the shame of the defeated one! Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now , and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.