Jesus explains the way that the devil often sets people up for ruin. Find out what it is.
(Haiti Promo Slide 2020)
It’s a bit of a “Missions Sunday” for us this morning as we are rolling out our Haiti Trip for February 2020.
It’s been two years since we have been to Haiti, so we are very excited to go back!
Let me tell you, this is one of THE most balanced missions trip I’ve ever been on.
This year, we’re once again partnering together with our friends at World Wide Village, and our aim is to accomplish 3 things:
1) Share Jesus with the adults of Haiti
2) Show and teach Jesus’ love to the kids of Haiti by putting on a VBS of sorts for them.
3) Our team will help finish a well by constructing the building the well is housed in.
This well is something that is has been a dream of World Wide Village for a long time…and will be a major blessing to almost 4,000 Haitians in the city of Luly…as many Haitians walk many miles a day for water.
Before I say any more, take a look at our Haiti video, so you can get a better idea of what past trips have looked like and what this one might look like:
(Haiti Promo Video)
So I want to encourage you to go.
To be bold in your faith…to step out and start serving others and helping to reach people for Christ.
There are applications in the hallway.
Pastor Josh is out there too if you have any questions about the trip.
Pick one up and pray about it.
We really want to raise our level of engagement in world missions this next year.
SO, we’ve set a goal to send 10% of our adults on the mission field in 2020.
There are about 400 adults who call this church home, and we want 40 of us (10%) on the mission field for Jesus in 2020.
Our goal for 2020 is to send 15 of us to Haiti…and 25 of us to Rwanda (which applications will come out in a number of months…as that trip will happen next summer)
On our last Rwanda trip, we saw 3,400 people come to Christ because of our team…and it’s an amazing trip as well.
So I want 100% of you praying about if it’s you…and we’re going to send 10% of you out, okay? Maybe more.
And you can serve him this way…even if it’s hard.
I’m inspired by our Youth Group leaders this morning.
3 of the 4 of them are leaving their 1 year old at home.
Not completely alone…their spouse is there…
But they’re sacrificing to bring the gospel
I pray you would do the same!
All right, this morning in our message, we are continuing in the Book of Luke…one of the 4 books in the Bible about the life and teachings of Jesus.
And today, we’ve come to yet another teaching of Jesus that many skip over…
You won’t find it in any children’s Bible
And it feels, at first brush, quite foreign to our modern, western understanding of the world.
Let’s start working through it
(Luke 11:14-21) - NIV
14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Now, if this if your first time in church in a long time, it might feel strange that we’re discussing a passage today where Jesus mentions demons.
Maybe that bothers you, or scares you, or even causes you to roll your eyes.
So let me say that this is in the Bible…it’s not some weird story from the internet or something
And although it may seem quite foreign to our culture, Jesus believes and teaches that there are supernatural beings named demons.
It’s not as if Jesus is just in the pre-scientific age, and so he has to label diseases or psychological issues as “demonic” because he simply doesn’t have the scientific knowledge to label them otherwise.
Remember, this is the Son of God…who knows the scientific developments of our future even.
In the Bible, Jesus even differentiates between demon possession and illness
(Luke 9:1) – NIV
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases
Although it might sound naïve to believe in spiritual evil, it’s no less reasonable than believing in spiritual good (say God or angels)
And the Bible says that both are true…and that there is a battle…waging for your soul.
So what is going on in this passage?
Well, the religious leaders who are opposing Jesus continue to see His miracles… (like this one of a mute person beginning to speak)
And at this point, Jesus’ miracles are so undeniable that they can’t say that they are fake…it’s obvious to everyone that they’re not.
So, the only thing left for the religious leaders to say is that Jesus is doing miracles and casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul.
Which is just a fancy word for Satan (Jesus says as much in verse 18)
The word technically means the house of Baal, which was a Caananite false god, but it came to mean the ruler of demons in Jewish tradition…which is, Satan
And Jesus points out the lunacy of their logic
Jesus is a good thinker.
You don’t have to leave your brain at the door to be a Christian.
He says, “Okay, if I were working for Satan, why would Satan divide his kingdom?”
“If possessing people or just influencing them to not follow God is the way the devil extends his kingdom, why in the world would Satan also be delivering people from demons?”
Jesus stops short of saying, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” but He’s close.
And instead Jesus tells them (in verse 21), what’s really happening, is that the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
God’s power has come to earth like never before…and that’s the only logical explanation for why you are seeing all of these miraculous things right in front of your eyes.
THE STRONG MAN & NEUTRALITY
Let’s keep reading…
(Luke 11:21-22) – NIV - KEEP UP FOR A MINUTE. IF POSSIBLE GET ON ONE SCREEN
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.
The strong man in this passage is Satan.
Jesus says that Satan is guarding his house…and his possessions are safe.
The possessions being the people he has influence over.
And then Jesus says, “But when someone stronger attacks” (that’s Jesus), he frees the person, and the plunder (the person) in His.
In the Gospels, Jesus is literally transforming people who have been demonized into disciples.
This all alludes to the spiritual battle that most Americans don’t want to admit exists.
If you asked the average person on the street, which team are you on…Team Evil…or Team Jesus?
Most people would strongly dislike your premise…
They would be offended (although that’s not saying much, we’re offended by everything)
But they would be thoroughly offended by the premise that if someone is not following Jesus, than they are being influenced by evil.
And so today, I can almost assure you that many Americans would say, “I am on neither team”
I’m not a Christ follower…but I’m not doing evil either.
They would say, I’m spiritually neutral.
This is the rise of the “nones” in American (N-O-N-E-S)…
The fastest growing spiritual demographic.
They’re not atheist, believe God exists, but don’t follow Jesus (or any particular religion).
So what would Jesus say to that?
Look at the next verse:
(Luke 11:23) – NIV
23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Whoever is not with me is against me.
What He is saying is that, and I hope that you don’t miss this…is that there is no such thing as being spiritually neutral.
There is no such thing as being a “none”…an in between.
If you’re not with Him…if you’re not following Him, you’re against Him.
To not decide…is to decide.
It’s to decide not to follow.
Do you remember in Lord of the Rings (I think it’s in the first movie…some nerd w/ a cape will correct me afterwards)…
Do you remember when they go to ask the Ents, which are the talking trees to help them fight against the Dark Forces?
Which, who puts talking trees into their book? Weirdest thing since Grandmother Willow.
But the trees say they’re still thinking about it…they’re not on anybody’s side.
They want to remain neutral…just in case.
Until finally at the 11th hour, the trees join the battle for good, and their rationale was this:
They said: "If we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later.”
Listen, when you die…you will go to one of two places.
Heaven or Hell.
There is no third option for people who are neutral
If you were to die in a car accident on the way home from here…you would be in one of those two places.
What that means is: If you are not with Jesus…it means that you are against Him…you won’t be with Him…saved by Him.
REFORMATION BUT NOT REGENERATION
But because many people think that they’re fine without Jesus…Jesus tells a parable of how life often works…in order to show the fallacy of that very claim.
(Luke 11:24-26) – NIV
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
At first glance, this may seem like a confusing parable.
Maybe you’ve read this before and said, “HUH!?!”
But in the context of the rest of the passage…it actually makes sense…
…and when you compare it to the life experience of so many in our culture, it actually makes PERFECT sense.
See, this is actually the story of many Americans…perhaps even the majority.
At first…the person has an impure spirit affecting and influencing their life.
As much as we don’t like to admit it, the spiritual battle is real.
This doesn’t have to mean you are a crazy demoniac…it can just mean that you’re not letting God influence your life…but rather evil instead.
That was totally true of my life.
I wasn’t living for Jesus…goodness no…
I was playing for the other team without realizing it
And many of us started off our teenage life or young adult life in sin and rebellion
Often it started in high school…
You dabbled in sin.
You snuck out to parties
Maybe began to sleep around
Got addicted to pornography
For others of you…it didn’t start until college…
You had a couple nights where you drank so much you don’t remember…
You followed the crowd.
But what’s fascinating is…for the majority of Americans…the story doesn’t actually continue on this trajectory.
“Yes, there are those whose dabbling in the “sins of the flesh” in their early twenties led right to decades of alcoholism…affairs…prostitution…and so on.
But for most…it doesn’t actually lead there.
For most people, a level of logic and good thinking prevails.
They reason, “I’m never going to be able to keep a job if I keep drinking to excess on THIRSTY Thursday, Friday, and Monday….like I was in college…I should probably really curtail my drinking”
So they do.
And they reason… I’d kind of like to get married someday…and have kids…
So I need to stop using dating apps to sleep around…and meeting people at the bar just to hook up…
I better look for a serious relationship.
“I better clean up my life”
They reason that sin doesn’t lead to earthly success (which, is what the Bible teaches…read the Book of Proverbs!)
But what are they doing when they say “I better clean up my life” some?
They’re doing exactly what verse 25 says.
Evil has gone…and they have swept their house and put it in order.
By their own willpower…they have begun to reform their life
To become a good person…a decent citizen of society…with a nice suburban life and 2.2 kids.
For most of us, this is 80% of our neighbors. This is their story.
Maybe it’s even you.
And notice that verse 24 says that the evil/impure spirit comes out of the person.
This is not an exorcism…this is anything but spiritual deliverance.
So why does the evil (in that person’s life) remove their influence and allow the person to reform themselves and get their house in order?
Think of it this way: If a twentysomething continues to drink to excess, continues ruining relationships by sleeping around, starts experimenting with drugs…we KNOW that their life will eventually hit rock bottom.
And if their life hits rock bottom, well then, there’s a better chance than ever that that person will call out to Jesus (as so many do at rock bottom)…and that evil spirit then will have NO home or real influence!
So, better to leave…and let the person think they are, in fact, MORE than fine on their own.
See some people actually clean their lives up…they avoid sin…so they can avoid Jesus.
If you get your own house in order…then you don’t need to become spiritual like those people who’ve already ruined their lives and have no other choice but to “give it up to God”
If you can just be a good, upstanding suburban resident, with a nice job…and a pretty good life…then you won’t need to cast your life on to Jesus.
You can just sort of stay neutral, right??
There are even people like this in the church
Even in this church right now.
They know how to talk like a Christian… walk like a Christian…
They’re even trying to morally “get their house put in order”
In their own willpower…they’re trying to make sure they don’t sin so they can fit in with the others at church.
But JESUS doesn’t have their life.
There was never repentance.
No rejoicing in the grace and forgiveness of God
No saying, “Lord, it would be so painful to give this up…but because you ask me to, I will”
No wrestling against sin.
In fact, if you were to talk to them about sin in their life…or talk to them about the demands of a disciple of Jesus Christ, they would shake it off, perhaps call you old fashioned, narrow-minded, or shaming
They are not a slave of Jesus Christ, not even a servant…they’re just a spiritually neutral person that happens to hang around Christians.
And so what happens with people like that (both in the church and out of it)?
People who try and reform their own lives…in their own willpower….
And try on their own to fit in to society (or the church) and “be good”
What happens??? Well what does the Bible say?
Jesus says that the evil eventually comes back.
And what will it see?
That the place is still spiritually empty.
It’s just swept up a little, and looks a bit more tidy to outsiders.
But Jesus isn’t there.
There’s no Son of God saying, “You shall not pass”
There’s no Messiah saying, “Don’t you dare…this child is mine”
And thus Jesus says that the demon is very pleased to find this condition.
In fact, it’s exactly what he hoped would happen when he left.
He’s so excited that he gathers 7 of his evil friends, saying, “This is the perfect situation!”
“The circumstances are now ripe for us to wreak way more havoc than we could have done when she was 17 or when he was 25.”
They tell their seven friends, “Now that they’ve swept their house clean and believe they can reform and change their own life…now…they’ll never turn to God…no matter how bad it gets.”
“Now, and only now, we can ruin them”
The devil has set you up.
He’s set you up to think that you don’t need a Savior…that in a sense…you could be your own savior.
And once you believe that, it’s then, that he’ll bring his full assault.
And often for people…this happens in mid-life, not in their teens or twenties.
In the process of putting our “house in order” in our 20’s and 30’s…our pride blinds us from seeing that we’re still humans…with a propensity towards sin
Sure…you can stop drinking and stop sleeping around, so you can have a family and successful suburban life…
But you still have absolutely NO power over those sinful urges that still exist within you.
And without Jesus…eventually…evil reigns again.
And it comes back worse than ever.
Jesus says “the final condition is worse than the first”
And now, the consequences are seven fold.
Instead of a fling in college…
It’s now an affair…that may destroy your family.
Perhaps creating a ripple for generations that will effect even how your own children look at marriage…or worse yet, God…
In midlife, it can end being up being a horrible grab for power, or control…but this time it’ll ruin your career.
And many people in midlife end up being completely crushed by these moments simply because they thought that they had the power to reform themselves…the willpower to be good.
But they find out, all too painfully, that they don’t.
Some try and start their lives over, get married again, a new career, a new life…
But without Christ, usually the cycle repeats itself and the results are the same.
I can think of others I’ve known personally who feel the regret of their decisions so strongly…they don’t know how to feel forgiven….
And so they eventually give up and take their own life.
But what they need is JESUS
As we read earlier…
Jesus is the one who can bind the strongman.
He has power over anything.
If your life has been one spiral downward of mistakes and sin…and you feel like there is no way out…
There is a way out…
Or if you feel like you’ve trying to be good…to be your own savior…and you’re now realizing you can’t save even yourself.
There is a Savior.
His name is Jesus.
He can rescue you
He can redeem you
He can change your life.
Surrender to Him
If you are sitting here today, and it’s hitting you like a ton of bricks that you’ve been “set up by Satan”
That you thought you could reform your own life…remain spiritually neutral…but yet…life is beginning to fall apart anyway.
It’s time to surrender.
You can not fix this by yourself.
Only Jesus can.
You cannot live in freedom and love without surrendering to the one who showed his love by dying on the cross to GIVE you freedom…
Please, surrender to Him…there is no neutral.
Neutral is just a setup.
Trust in Jesus…He loves you. LET’S PRAY
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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