Neutrality is Impossible
Neutrality is Impossible.
Intro: The Screwtape Letters: Description
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
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.
Claim: By Beelzebul, Baal the prince, “Lord of Flies” Jesus casts out this demon.
Different responses to the same event: Division among them
They were hypocrites pretending to be something they were not.
1. A divided house cannot stand
We will get back to that…
“Jesus knew their thoughts…”
Jesus “took on” the form of a man in addition to being fully God, but he submitted his divine nature to the will of the Father.
At times, it was on display
Telling the Woman at the Well she had 5 husbands - John 4
At other times, hidden.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32
Continue: A divided house cannot stand
19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.
Jesus was referring to things like this:
If Jesus worked by satanic power, then the fraudulent exorcisms that had their approval must be suspect as well making them a house divided.
Exposing their hypocrisy.
Review: A divided house will fall
2. A double standard lives in a divided house
Maybe a subtle jab at Jerusalem, divided from the reign of Jeroboam (Israel and Judah), to that moment (as Jesus points out), to its fall in 70 A.D (to Rome).
Hypocrisy - having a double standard
…is a warning sign of a potential fall.
A person of “two minds” is a divided house.
You cannot serve God and money? You will love the one and hate the other.
This is spiritual warfare.
Jesus shows us how it works.
11:21 “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.”
Satan is the “strong man”.
His “possessions” are the resources in the person’s life - his talents, personality, etc.
The “armor” are the ways he holds the person captive - resentments, addictions, etc.
Jesus is “someone stronger”.
The (deaf) man is the house.
“The demon was mute, the man spoke."
he is restricted, confined bound up, but Jesus releases his assets to be used for his service thus “…divides up his plunder.”
23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Those therefore who rejected the doctrine of Christ, and slighted his miracles, were looked upon as adversaries to him, and in the devil’s interest.
Jesus identifies them as THE OPPOSITION
Whoever is not with me is against me.
3. Neutrality toward Jesus is impossible
“There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.”
Not to decide is to make a decision.
Countries who won’t pick a side side with the stronger, not the right or wrong.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Review: Neutrality toward Jesus is impossible.
Here’s the Lord’s description of why…
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.”
This is Satan voluntarily going out (comes out) of a person for a time.
This house (person) might say they are a Christian.
The house is swept clean and empty (neutral).
Why would he come out of a person on his own?
Example: a forced confession because of earthly consequences.
(Pharaoh, Ahab, Herod, Saul, Cain)
These people had mildly bad qualities, but they all ended horribly.
Temporary relief from the demonic…
Apostacy - the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.
How does a person turn his back fully on Jesus?
Answer: His heart was divided.
If you are like me, you think, “How can I be sure I am not like Herod, Cain, or Pharaoh, only giving lip service to Jesus with a divided heart?”
4. Spiritual neutrality has disastrous consequences.
“…it finds the house swept clean and put in order…”
The picture of neutrality
Straddling the fence is not something Christians can afford to do.
Think of what Jesus says about being “lukewarm”.
“What we think about when we are free to think about what we will
– that is what we are or will soon become.”
― A.W. Tozer
Avoiding the disastrous consequences of spiritual neutrality:
1. Pray for an undivided heart. (like David)
2. Admit potential blind spots. (double standards and self-righteousness)
3. Confess and renounce idolatry. (Saul’s downfall - “yes, but..”)
4. Obey God at all cost. (submission over rebellion)
Interestingly, passages sometimes end with something our of the blue.
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
It’s almost as if we are to make sure to remember the main point.
This is for those who would deify Mary.
God doesn’t have grandchildren.
5. There is no substitute for obedience
We cannot only pray for an undivided heart.
“If we would have God’s blessing upon us, we must begin to obey.
Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience. God will not accept praying in lieu of obeying.
We only deceive ourselves when we try to make the substitution.’
- A.W. Tozer