Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:14-20)
This interaction is so crazy to me, to accuse Jesus of casting out demons…by Beelzebul, the prince of demons; in essence claiming that God gets His authority by demons! Now, admittedly, any Christian would be biased here because we’ve already come to the saving knowledge of Jesus and know that He is indeed God, but holy smokes that is crazy.
Interestingly enough, the Pharisees sought to discredit Jesus so much that they became hypocrites to their very claims. They were claiming Jesus cast it out by demonic power, yet Jesus points out that their sons cast out demons as well and asks what authority they do it by then. But the lesson we’re going to focus on here is that a kingdom divided cannot stand.
A Church Divided
This can be true of a church body. If a church is dividing within, they won’t be effective in the mission God gave them.
Jesus prayed in His high priestly prayer, in John 17, that we as His people would be united as one body – His body. And He also said we would be known as His disciples by our love for one another. If we expect to be a household of God that won’t fail, we have to remember who the real enemy is, not fighting one another, but seeking to reconcile any hurts and be united in seeking and serving God.
A Person Divided
This can also be true of an individual person. If someone is riding the fence of faith, they are divided and cannot stand. You cannot be half in, half out. You cannot love the world and love God, you cannot be of the world and of God, you cannot serve the world and serve God – you’re either with God or against Him. James 4 tells us clearly that friendship with the world is enmity with God.
Jesus later in this section, which we’ll go more into depth on next week, says in verse 23 “Whoever is not with me is against me”. That is a sharp claim that still remains true today. So, are you with God or against Him?
We know that the kingdom of God has come upon us – it was proclaimed through prophecies of old and spoken of by John the Baptist and Jesus very clearly. We cannot be divided against each other nor in our own hearts and expect to be effective for God.
United, Not Divided
In seeking to be united and not divided, we have to be willing to be humble, gracious, and forgiving – all of which are not going to come from our flesh nature. Just as we gleaned from last week’s devotional, we must ask for the Holy Spirit knowing He can empower us to live with these characteristics that are natural to our God.
The next time you’re faced with a situation in which you’re hurt or have a disagreement with another believer, ask the Holy Spirit for the empowerment to follow what Jesus said in Matthew 18, to reconcile and be united as siblings in Christ.