When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Luke 11:21-23)
In continuing the response from Jesus about casting out demons and the discussion about which kingdom He’s from, He gives the example of a strong man and a stronger man.
When we generally think of satan, the true enemy, I think we’d like to think of him as a wimp who doesn’t have much power. But biblically speaking, he is the ruling principality in this current world and he does have strength. And while Jesus considered us the reward set before Him, satan merely looks at people as goods.
The beauty of this is that while yes, satan is strong, armed, and dangerous; seeking to steal, kill, and destroy; Jesus on the other hand is stronger and overcomes. Greater is God who is in us than he who is in the world! That is very encouraging, but we don’t want to let our guards down against the enemy because we’re not impervious to his attacks even though we have the armor of God available to us – we must use it in order to prevail.
With or Against
For the rest of this week’s devotional time, we’re going to focus on verse 23, Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. This is a two-parter here:
- Whoever is not with me is against me
- Whoever does not gather with me scatters
We touched a little last week on the fact that you can’t ride the fence when it comes to your faith, you’re either all in or all out. These really are circumstances of choices and defaults.
If anyone chooses to receive the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus’ redeeming offering on the cross, they stand uncondemned in the righteousness of Christ, being part of the kingdom of God. But if anyone doesn’t make that choice, they are by default part of satan’s domain in the kingdom of darkness and are condemned to an eternity in hell because that’s where satan’s kingdom will end up in the end. This is made clear in the bible where it says, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:17-18)
Gather or Scatter
For the last two hundred something years, America has enjoyed a religious freedom in which we can freely worship God. This has not been the case for all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, and yet in those places where religious persecution is still happening daily, they still gather as the Church. If the Church didn’t gather, it would scatter, especially in the face of persecution.
I wholly believe that persecution is coming in America, and while we know that our God is greater than the ruler of this dark world, persecution tests the resolve of our faith and produces a perseverance to those who are doers of the word. But if we are not making the habit to gather with Jesus and His Church, we will scatter in the end.
And here’s the truth: we can’t expect to have great faith in a moment of any persecution if we don’t regularly meet with Jesus and exercise our faith in Him. This is how God designed our relationship with Him and each other. By gathering with Him, we grow and mature into more Christ-like people. By gathering together as the Body of Christ, we sharpen one another like iron sharpens iron and stir one another to love and good works. So…we shouldn’t neglect to meet.
The disciples were known for spending time with Jesus, and when the counsel brought them in to tell them not to teach, they recognized they had been with Jesus, and the disciples passed the test as they stood their ground in faith regardless of their physical well-being. And one by one over the years, the disciples would prove their love of God and faith in Him as they were persecuted and martyred. That didn’t come from periodic church services, it came from gathering with Jesus, abiding in Him daily, and gathering with the Church to encourage one another in their faith.
My dear sibling in Christ, you are for God, and He in you and greater than the enemy. Be encouraged by that fact that Jesus has overcome and therefore you will overcome. And lastly, be sure to gather with Him and His Church the way He designed and wills for you to.