Category Archives: Demons

What Does It Mean To “Believe In” Jesus?

John 3:16 is often referred to as a wonderful summary of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in many ways this is true. However, many allow themselves to be misled or become complacent in reading this popular verse.

John 3:16

  16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

For those who read this at a surface level given the common English translations, a lot hinges on the meaning of “believe in”.  This is not simply to acknowledge the historical nature that God became man and walked among us thousands of years ago and then go about doing anything we want, rejecting and rebelling against God, but still  expecting God to give us eternal life.

Even Satan and the demons “believe” in Jesus. In fact, they recognize Him instantly… much more readily than people seem to.

Mark 3:11

11Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”

Luke 8:27-28

27And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. 28Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.”

Matthew 4:1-11

      1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”

      5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
and
‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

      8Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 11Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Are we to conclude that just by acknowledging in our minds that the historical figure of Jesus is God we will be saved from the punishment we are due for our sin? The simple answer is … absolutely not. Satan and demons acknowledge and know Jesus.

Let us expand beyond John 3:16 to get better definition of context for the application of the words “believe in”.

John 3:16-21

  16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Note in the broader context we get a much clearer perspective.  There is a very big difference between “believing about” Jesus and “believing in” Him. To believe in Jesus is much deeper than just acknowledging a historical reality, but rather it is reflected in our actions. To acknowledge that aerodynamics work and planes can fly is interesting, but may not affect my life at all. Many may acknowledge planes as a means of travel but be deeply fearful and choose never to use them. If I believe in aerodynamics and planes, I will likely use them as a means of transportation.

The broader context of the scripture shows us that truly believing “in” Jesus as God, or not believing,  will be reflected in our actions. Truly believing that He died for our sins and rose from the dead means we will practice the truth and come to the Light. Not believing will be reflected by a life filled with evil and ungodly living.  Believing “in” Jesus  It is so much more than just believing “about” Him.

Sometimes a lot hangs on proper understanding of context of even small words.  Pray that God would help you to grow in your faith and believe deeply “in” Jesus as Messiah and not grow complacent just acknowledging the historical reality of Jesus. Believing in Him should be reflected in our behaviors and attitudes. It should affect everything we do and how we do it.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Jesus Did Not Come To Heal Every Sickness

Jesus did not come to heal every physical sickness or cast out every demon personally. This is sometimes difficult for people to get their minds around. If they see others healed, but not the person they hope for, they often choose to dismiss that it was really God helping to heal others.

“Why would God heal some but not others?

We do not know that answer. There are many aspects worth highlighting. Faith is required. People came to Jesus, rather than waiting for Him to come to them. Jesus came to spread the truth of the gospel and lead people to right relationship with God by teaching and living the commands of God recorded in the Old Testament and to die as sacrifice for all of our sins so we could all have a chance to go to be reconciled to God regardless of our past sins and separation from Him. He did not come to heal every sickness and cast out every demon.

Let us take a simple example in Mark 1. He heals many and casts out demons. But he leaves while there are still yet others to be healed and set free. Why? Jesus tells us in verse 38.

Mark 1:29-39

Crowds Healed

      29And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

      32When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

      35In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

Jesus came to preach truth to many, not to heal everyone in one location. Miracles and healing were a helpful part of His ministry to demonstrate who He was to those around Him and also to show love to many.

For any of you who may be angry or sad or confused about why someone you love has not been healed or was not healed… take heart. You can trust in our heavenly Father and in His plans and His decisions. We are to come to the Father through Jesus. We can petition Him with our needs and desires. Then we are to trust Him in His decisions, even when we disagree or do not understand… as a small child must trust his or her parents even when they say “no”.

Pray for God to help you with any hurt you are still dealing with in this area. Seek others you trust to pray with you. Reflect on all the signs and miracles Jehovah has given us that He is God and we can trust Him. Follow in the example of Jesus to come to the Father.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Jesus Is Different Than Other Teachers

To put it simply, Jesus Christ is different from other teachers. He is different from the established religion that is taught in many churches or synagogues.  He has authority. He has the ability to work miracles. Immediately upon beginning to teach, people recognized He was no ordinary teacher. That is because during His earthly ministry, Jesus was God in the flesh come to dwell among us. (We should take note that He did choose to come to the synagogue on Sabbath to teach, thus demonstrating His support of God’s instructions laid out for His people in the Old Testament.)

Mark 1:21-28

      21They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Jesus still has power and authority that others do not. Those who follow Him should teach boldly and with authority as well, though with a certain amount of humility. There is only one way and Jesus is it. We should expect the fellowship of true believers to reflect their leader. When congregations or communities lift up Jesus as their leader we should be able to see that they are different than other communities in the world. We should expect them to NOT conform to the cultural norms but to God’s word.

Many false prophets will try to fake miracles and try to teach as if they have authority, even though they teach false doctrine. We must study the scriptures ourselves daily and test teachers (you should test me also!) against scripture. We are only to follow those who teach the truth about Jesus Christ, consistent with what scripture teaches. Do not follow teachers just because they have a lot of people in their building every week or a lot of followers on Facebook.

As we look for whom we should follow, let us make sure it is Jesus and not a “celebrity” pastor. We should follow the example of Jesus and study scripture. We should seek truth and live by it even when it is in conflict with what an established church may teach. We should help pastors by holding them accountable to God’s word, even when it is unpopular. Of course we can study and learn from many different pastors, but none should be looked upon as the source of knowledge and all must be recognized to be capable of error. Let us do these things respectfully and with grace and humility.

Jesus is most definitely different from the world. So, too, we should expect our church fellowship to be different as well. Let us choose wisely our church family and teachers. Let us seek many counselors and teachers and test everything against the word of God. Let us humbly seek God’s help in prayer for this important matter.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Many Come Against Christ For Selfish Reasons

Most of us who submit our lives to Christ and, out of obedience, boldly proclaim the gospel to others do so with nothing whatsoever to gain personally. We are moved by obedience to Christ and out of love for our fellow man to help them find freedom in Jesus Christ… freedom from sin and freedom from the penalty of death for their sin. It is helpful at times to remember that those who reject Christ have many different motives… and often times it they are not even willing to open their eyes and consider the miracles around them which declare the truth and the glory of God.

Acts 19:11-41

Miracles at Ephesus

      11God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. 13But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

      21Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

      23About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. 24For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; 25these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. 26“You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. 27“Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”

      28When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. 31Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater. 32So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together. 33Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. 34But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven? 36“So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash. 37“For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38“So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another. 39“But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly. 40“For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41After saying this he dismissed the assembly.

Consider for a moment the “extraordinary miracles” that were taking place in the name of Jesus Christ. They were public spectacles and not private events. Word of Jesus was spreading and people were believing. There were many who responded and believed. However, there were some who were motivated by greed and others who joined in without even understanding why they were rioting… they just allowed themselves to be caught up in the moment and come against the Christians for no particular reason other than seeing others act that way.

They made no rational appeal or argument against Jesus. They were only concerned to shout for their false beliefs and not listen to any other views… even in the face of “extraordinary miracles”! They were blind and could not see… or would not see.

We see these same responses from many today. When we proclaim the truth many will come against us… but many will accept Jesus as Lord. We must take courage and proclaim Him boldly despite opposition. We must take what measured steps we can to protect ourselves while relying on God to help us, but we must never be silenced from sharing the truth of Jesus Christ.

Reason does not always win out… and in this particular scripture there was a man who calmed the crowds. It does not always work out that way, but we must place our trust in God and go about His business anyway.  We can try to adjust our strategy to communicate the gospel and how we respond to people by understanding their motivations. It was probably wise for the believers to keep Paul from going to the riot. We do not know, but perhaps they would not have been so easily calmed if they had Paul in their midst.

Truly we can also be thankful to God when we live in a society in which there is some semblance of court system to sort out conflict in a way that avoids mob rule and riots. We should actively involve ourselves in government when we can in order to protect that protection where we have it or to fight to get those rights where we do not have them.

At all times, however, we should pray for God to help us in proclaiming the gospel and responding to both receptive and hostile audiences… whether we face crowds of 5000 or a single person.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

If You Are To Serve God, Prepare For Adventure

For those who truly commit themselves to live for God and serve Him, prepare for adventure. There is no greater purpose than to answer Jesus’ commands and share the good news of the gospel with all the world. For every one who receives the truth, a soul is saved from eternal damnation and heaven rejoices. It changes lives in this world and after death for eternity. But when we set out on a journey to serve God, we will encounter a great many things along the way.

The contrast within Acts 16 is striking as Paul and Silas are on their missionary journey. They find Lydia who rejoices, her household is baptized, and she invites Paul to stay in her household. Shortly after that, they encounter an entirely different response from another.

Acts 16:14-21

  14A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

      16It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.

      19But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, 20and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, 21and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”

The level of greed demonstrated by the slave girl’s masters is astounding, though not uncommon. They care nothing for her, but get very angry at those who set her free… it costs them future profit. Never mind her life, in their mind. Paul demonstrates the power of God in setting the slave girl free, yet the men do not even pause to consider Paul’s message, but rather immediately erupt in anger and drag Paul and Silas away for prosecution.

The same message and messengers that brought Lydia to saving faith in Christ also evoked great anger in others because of their own personal greed.

If we are to offer up our lives to God as His servants, genuinely, then we will open ourselves up to face much hardship and yet also joy beyond measure. Ultimately joy in serving our glorious Lord Jesus Christ wins out! I encourage each of you to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others publically and without apology. Live out God’s commands so that others will see the Light through your life, even though they want to reject Jesus and slander you.

1 Peter 2:12  12Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Prayerfully consider who is already in your life that you feel God encouraging you to share your faith with. Take a step of faith and tell others the difference that Jesus has made in your life… you might make some angry, but others you will be saving from eternal suffering.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

“Why Couldn’t We Cast Out The Demon?”

Jesus once again demonstrates His power and authority over demons in Matthew 17:14-21 as he casts out a demon with seemingly little effort. However, this scripture actually puts more emphasis around the disciples’ inability to cast out the demon.

14 At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”

17 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.

19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”

20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.[d]

On the surface, this passage may seem to be about Jesus casting out the demon, but as we study we see that is actually of secondary focus. Jesus’ rebuke of the demon is described in one line. There is much more emphasis in this scripture on the disciple’s inability to heal the boy, on their lack of power, and what this reveals about their spiritual condition.

Jesus’ tone while speaking expresses frustration in the lack of faith resulting in the disciples being unable to cast out the demon. The disciples did in fact show some evidence of faith in that they tried to cast out the demon and again in that they did not understand why it did not work… they expected it to work. What we can see though is that the faith of the disciples is still developing and growing. They have farther to go.

The statement about being able to move a mountain with faith of a mustard seed is often misunderstood and misused. It is not simply…

If I believe God exists, I can use His power to do whatever I want.”

More correct would perhaps be to think of it like the following…

“Jesus demonstrated that powerful prayer life, disciplined study of the scriptures, and absolute submission of His life to God’s will are essential in knowing and living God’s will. When we have that kind of relationship with God we will have the faith required to empower us to do whatever is in His will for us.”

It is also helpful to remember that during Jesus’ earthly ministry, God had not yet sent the Holy Spirit to be the helper for the disciples and other believers. That took place after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and return to heaven.  It is actually quite an interesting study to compare the ministry and faith of the disciples before the death and resurrection of Jesus to the same individuals after God had sent the Holy Spirit to be their helper. They transitioned from those that ran, hid, or denied Christ when He was to be crucified to standing strong on their own and proclaiming the good news of the gospel in the face of death. They had faith strong enough to willingly die for Jesus rather than deny Him.

There is yet another subtle point made in this scripture and in many others throughout the New Testament and throughout the Bible as a whole.  If the Bible were, as some claim, just a fictional text written by the followers of Jesus then they would not include so many examples where the disciples themselves failed as part of the text. Those parts could easily be omitted. The fact that the Bible chronicles the failures (along with the successes) of those who are or were leaders of the faith is compelling evidence of the truth of the Bible.

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Show Us A Miraculous Sign

Many call upon Jesus to show them a miraculous sign before they are willing to wholeheartedly follow Him. They often do not realize that He has already shown us a miraculous sign… and they dismissed it and are asking for another.

Matthew 12:38-45 continues after Jesus has just healed a man who could not see or speak and was demon possessed. So obvious was the miracle that even those who wanted to reject Jesus could not deny it happened, but rather had to make up a wild accusation that Jesus was prince of demons to explain it. Jesus spends time confronting them and explaining why this makes no sense. So what happens next… after this miraculous sign, which some refused to acknowledge… they demand a miraculous sign. Yes, really.

38 One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”

39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. 42 The queen of Sheba[e] will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.

43 “When an evil[f] spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”

Are you still waiting for a miraculous sign to follow Jesus as were the teachers and Pharisees in Jesus’ time of earthly ministry?

He has already given us countless signs and miracles, many of which were carefully preserved in scripture. In particular, Jesus points to his death and resurrection as the primary sign He will provide. As we see later in scripture, and in the world around us today, even after He dies and comes back to life in a very public way… there are many who refuse to accept Him as God and follow Him.

What more powerful sign can He give? Is He to personally die and come back to life before each of us across every generation? Jesus calls them an evil and adulterous generation (e.g. reference to worshipping other idols instead of God) that rejects the signs He has given and demands signs.

Don’t sit around waiting for another miraculous sign. Make the decision today to accept Jesus wholeheartedly, proclaim His word loudly, and change your life to be more like his and less like the world. We must truly live differently from the world and those who just claim the label of “Christian” if we are to lead others to Jesus Christ… to be a lamp on a lampstand for all to see.

For those who are already committed to living their lives for Christ… be encouraged. We serve a wonderful God who has given us many signs to encourage us and provide evidence for who He is and how He wants us to live. Praise God for the signs He has given!

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“Anyone Who Isn’t With Me Opposes Me” – Jesus

There is much to explore with Jesus in Matthew 12:22-37 including His power over Satan and Satan’s demons, His ability to heal, the willingness of many to see the truth about Jesus from the evidence they witness and the rejection of Jesus by those who are evil regardless of the evidence presented to them.

22 Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. 23 The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan,[d] the prince of demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. 27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 29 For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

30 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

31 “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.

33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”

Let’s review a couple key points:

  • Jesus heals a demon possessed man who is blind, cannot speak. Those who are unbiased in their view observe the evidence and immediately consider it as pointing toward Jesus as Messiah. Even those with evil in their heart cannot deny that the miracle happened or that a demon was cast out and the man healed. Instead, they make up a wild explanation to continue their pre-existing bias against Jesus. They refuse to see.
  • Jesus takes the time to clearly show the wicked why their argument against Him makes no sense, despite knowing they will ultimately reject Him anyway. He tells them the truth and gives them the opportunity to turn toward Him.
  • This demonstration of the power of God to cast out a demon demonstrates also that God has power over Satan.
  • Jesus reminds us that there is no neutral position, no quiet position “sitting on the fence”. “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” [Matthew 12:30]. We must each decide if we are working with Jesus or we are working against Him. It requires more than quietly acknowledging Him with our lips and then refusing to speak out against sin and speak up for God’s way. It requires living boldly for Jesus and proclaiming Him loudly – even in the face of persecution.Jesus speaks of the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. There can be some Christian debate on to what exactly Jesus is referring. One likely conclusion is that Jesus is speaking of the Pharisees experiencing an undeniable miracle of the Holy Spirit, and consciously choosing to reject this evidence and instead attribute the event to power from Satan.  There are examples of others, like Saul of Tarsus who later became Paul, who rejected the Holy Spirit at first and then accepted it later. Thus we conclude it is not a one time rejection, but rather a continuous and willful rejection of the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus uses the wickedness of the Pharisees as an example for us to understand how to use discernment to evaluate the wickedness of someone’s heart. We are to identify or judge a tree by its fruit. While we should do so carefully and with grace, we are given direct example from Jesus that we are to use discernment to identify the wicked / evil. By discerning properly, we will be better prepared to tune out the false teaching of the evil and focus on proper teaching and leadership of the righteous.
  • Continuing, Jesus reminds us that we are accountable for our words, that they represent an overflow of the condition of the heart, and are very powerful and at times can be either helpful or destructive.

There is a lot of important teaching to dwell on in this small amount of scripture. I encourage each of you to read it again and think about how to apply each part to your life to grow closer to Jesus.

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Some Will Always Find a Reason Not to Accept Jesus

In Matthew 9:27-34 we continue to walk with Jesus through His earthly ministry. We experience once again the joy he can bring when we come to Him in faith and ask for healing.

27 After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

28 They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?”

“Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” 30 Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.” 31 But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.

32 When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak was brought to Jesus. 33 So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” they exclaimed.

34 But the Pharisees said, “He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.”

Jesus demonstrates the ability to heal the blind and cast out demons. Those who have eyes to see… see Him for who He really is… God. They cannot contain their thankfulness and praise for God once healed. For those who have already decided to reject Him and do not consider the evidence before them openly… they find a way to convince themselves Jesus is not God.

The Pharisees even rationalized in this case that Jesus cast out demons because He was empowered by the prince of demons. How ridiculous! If He were serving Satan, than why would He cast out demons who also serve Satan. The Pharisees acknowledged that Jesus was casting out demons and still found a way to reject Him!

As followers of Jesus Christ, we should give thanks and praise for what He has already done for us… dying on the cross for our sins, so we can be forgiven and through grace be saved. He will not always provide physical healing in this world, even for His followers. But we must trust Him and praise Him when He does an even when He does not.

For those who do not yet follow Jesus or are unsure… cast aside the biased opinion of the world that God does not exist or the foolish assertion by other religions that Jesus really did everything the Bible says… but is not who He said He is… God. Look instead for the evidence around you… in creation and in the Biblical text and the long line of evidence in archaeology. Evaluate the evidence with an open mind and put some energy and time into it. Your eternal salvation (or damnation) and that of those you influence is at stake.

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Jesus Casts Out Demons

In Matthew 8:28-33, Jesus casts out demons from two violent men. We gain some insight into the relationship of Jesus, demons, and the people.

28 When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes,[g] two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.

29 They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?”

30 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. 31 So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

32 “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

33 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.

A few observations to highlight:

  • Jesus wants to help even violent men whom others have given up on. Jesus, as son of God, has no fear of the two men in the cemetery.
  • The demons not only believe in Jesus, but they also recognize Him as son of God, when many religious people do not. However, they do not follow or serve Him. If we tell ourselves we “believe in” Jesus, or “know” Jesus… that puts us in the same relationship with Him as demons. The better question is “Do we follow and serve Jesus?”
  •  The demons recognize that Jesus has power over them. They know they can not win over Him. They simply ask why He is coming before the appointed time to torture them, presumably to cast them into Hell.
  • Jesus is not there to change the appointed time for the demons to be destroyed, just to help the men and demonstrate the power of God.  He casts the demons into the herd of swine at their request.
  • The immediate and dramatic change in the behavior of both the men and the pigs demonstrates a conclusive picture for those who witnessed it of the real existence of demons. They exist to destroy,  but are constrained by God to within certain boundaries.
  •  The herdsman fled and told everyone what happened to the demon possessed men. Instead of celebrating or worshipping Jesus, they asked Him to leave. How sad for people to clearly see the power of almighty God and have a response to push it away.

Reflect on these points and others in the scripture. How can you apply them to your life today?

Are you celebrating the power of God in your life? or pushing it away?

Do you “know” and “believe in” Jesus? or do you serve and follow Him? Can others tell? How does your life reflect this by being different from those around you who do not serve Jesus?

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