Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jesus Response to the Pharisees Accusation

I was talking to a friend this past weekend about Satan and eschatology. I received a strange look when I mentioned that I believe that Satan is already "bound". I think we are assuming that when Satan is Bound that it means that he is no longer active in his devious attempts to deceive and lead sheep astray.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (English Standard Version)

8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

I just found these sermon notes by Ligon Duncan where he describes how Jesus "bound" Satan while he was incarnte on Earth, casting out demons, defeating Satan in the wilderness. I hope this is enlightening to you.
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

III. Jesus response to the Pharisees accusation.
There's a third thing we learn in this passage as we study, and you will see it in verses 25 through 29. Jesus gives a devastating rejoinder to the Pharisees. As the Pharisees accuse Him of being of the evil one and doing His works according to the power of Satan. The Lord Jesus replies in a detailed reply. We are told, by the way, in verse 25 that Jesus knew their thoughts. Now that could mean that Jesus knew the method of operation. He knew the general attitude of the Pharisees. But Matthew and Luke seem to be saying more than that. They seem to be saying that Jesus knew the inner heart attitude which lay behind their outward attacks on Him. He knew their hearts. John tells us that he knew all men. And this is what Matthew is reminding us here. He is aware of their thoughts and their heart attitudes. He knows the state of their heart as they oppose Him. And the state of their heart is simply reflected in the words that they have spoken out loud.

And His response to them has five parts. We won't study all of them today, but I would like to walk you through them because they are very important. The first part of His response you will see in verses 25 and 6. The first thing that He says is that their claim about Him is absurd. He says it is absurd to claim that I am casting out demons by the power of Satan. And He opposes, and He shows the absurdity by quoting a proverb, and then by asking a question. The proverb that He quotes is one that applies to all sorts of relationships - family relationships, national relationships - and it is, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

And then having quoted that proverb which simply means, of course, that when there is internal dissension a family, a relationship, a kingdom cannot be built up, it can only disintegrate, He asks a question. Now, if that is true, then how could it be that Satan would be deliberately fighting against himself when His goal is to build up His kingdom? And so He shows the patent absurdity of their particular charge. You're saying that I'm casting out Satan's minions by the power of Satan. And He said, That just doesn't make sense. But the second thing he says is in verse 27. He shows that their criticism is unfair, it is inconsistent. You see, the Pharisees had followers who claimed to cast out demons. Now the Lord Jesus doesn't get into a long argument about whether they actually did or didn't. The Lord Jesus knows that the Pharisees had followers in Israel who claimed to cast out demons. And He basically says this, Why is it that when I cast out demons, you accuse Me of doing it by the power of Satan, but when your followers, the ones that you have taught in Hebrew school and seminary, why is it that when they do it, you say, Oh, this is a mighty work of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. It's bad when I do it, but when they do it, it's acceptable. That's inconsistent. It's unfair criticism. And so He suggests this to them. He says, If I by beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out. For this reason they will be your judges. In other words He says, If your followers, your sons, if they judge that you are right about me, that I am casting out demons by the power of Satan, then that calls into question what they are doing. And if they judge that you are wrong about me, that I am not casting out demons by the power of Satan, then it calls in question your judgment about Me. And so He shows that the sons, the followers of the Pharisees, whichever way they answer that question will undercut the criticism which the Pharisees have brought against him.

The third thing that He says in response you will see in verse 28. There in Matthew 12:28 He says, If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. He shows that their criticism deliberately obscures the greatest work of the Holy Spirit in history. I want you to see what the Lord Jesus is saying loud and clear. The Holy Spirit had been at work under the old covenant. He had been there in the promises and prophets and types and forms. He had been there working in that era inspiring the prophets as they spoke the word of God to the people. He had done mighty works in the old covenant, but never before had there been a greater work of the Holy Spirit than the recreation of God's people and the expansion of God's kingdom. And the Lord Jesus is saying, The spirit is at work in My ministry. And yet you ascribe that work of the spirit of God to demons.

Let me try to put that for you graphically. It would be as if God spoke to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai and said, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the house of slavery, and then gave to them the Ten Commandments, and there were a group of Israelites stood at the base of the mountain who said, You know, I don't think that was the voice of the Lord God of Israel. I think that was the voice of Satan. The Lord Jesus is saying, You have called the greatest work of the Spirit, a greater work than the giving of the Ten Commandments, the work of Satan. And that reveals the stubbornness and the wickedness of your hearts. Jesus power over the demons was a manifestation of the fact that God's kingdom had come, that the Lord was coming with power.

Indeed the Lord Jesus goes on to say that you can't even cast out Satan until you've bound him. And so he is saying, Every time you see Me cast out a demon, you know that I have first attacked Satan. I have bound him. I have restrained him, or I wouldn't be able to do that because Satan's kingdom cannot be plundered until Satan is restrained. And He is saying, That's what I'm doing every time I cast out demons. And He goes on to indicate that by His incarnation, by His victory over Satan in the wilderness, by His preaching, by His ministry, He was in the act of binding Satan. And yet they deliberately attribute that work to Satan himself.

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