December 12, 2021 Beelzebub and Gathering with the Lord

Beelzebub and Gathering for the Lord

Dec 12, 2021



Read Matthew 12:22-29.


The demon possessed man was both blind and mute. These afflictions were not natural, but were caused by the demon. When Jesus cast the demon out, he is able both to see and speak. Jesus does not heal half-way! He heals completely!


When the crowd asks, “Can this be the Son of David?” they are asking rhetorically. This follows from them being amazed. Thus, the crowd recognized Jesus as the Messiah. This, then, aroused the jealousy of the Pharisees. They accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Satan’s authority. Jesus refutes them by saying that any kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. In other words, Satan would not be so stupid as to cast out his own demons.


Jesus affirms a true principle. Any kingdom that is divided cannot function properly and will not be able to withstand opposition. This is one reason why the church has not been effective in combating the kingdom of darkness. The church is divided. It fights among itself almost as much as it does against the ways of the world. One of the two political parties in the United States has more success than the other because, despite their being wrong on so many issues, they are unified. They always vote together and have less infighting than the other party.


And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.[1]


The “sons” are the sons of Israel, not the physical sons of the Pharisees. Jesus’ point is that there were Jewish exorcists and these Pharisees did not accuse them of using the power of the devil to cast out demons. This shows that they had made up their minds against Jesus ahead of time and had not done so based on his actions. Therefore, the sons of Israel would judge them. This judgment will be at the judgment to come.


But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.[2]


It was, indeed, that Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit of God. As a man, Jesus needed the Spirit to carry out his ministry. We, even more! When he states that “the kingdom of God has come upon you,” he means that the power and authority is here now, therefore, the kingdom is “at hand” (3:2; 4:17). “Come upon you” is an alternate expression for “at hand.” Our Lord is saying that the kingdom was ready to come in its fullness if Israel fulfilled the condition of the kingdom coming, which is to repent. This they failed to do. Thus, the kingdom did not come at that time.


Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.[3]

The “strong man’s house” is the kingdom of Satan. The strong man is Satan. And, “his goods” are the fallen people of the world.


We cannot rescue someone from demonic oppression nor demonic possession unless we first bind the strong man.


How do we do that? The Lord reveals it later in the book of Matthew, chapter 17. When the disciples ask Jesus why they could not cast out a demon from a boy he tells them that it was because they lacked faith. We must have confidence that the Lord has both given us the authority to expel demons and that he will do it.  The first thing, then, that the servant of the Lord must have in order to bind the strong man is faith.


The same incident is recorded in Mark chapter nine, where that gospel writer gives a fuller treatment of the incident. There, two more requirements are addressed. When the father of the boy brings him to Jesus, the Lord tells him to believe. Thus, there needs to be faith on the part of the recipient. In the case of the boy, it was the faith of the father. The father replies with a powerful statement. He says, “I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) This is such a good response because it both affirms a measure of trust in the Lord but admits to an inadequacy as well.


Practically, what this means is that the one who would bind the strong man should know a little about the one who would be released from bondage. For children, it is good to ask about the faith of the parents. For adults, we ought to ascertain if the one who is oppressed is willing to submit to the Lord. A renouncing of their sin is a revelation of their faith. An unwillingness to forsake sin reveals an absence of faith. (It is usually a succumbing to certain sins that allows a demon’s undo influence to begin with.) We ask them if they will renounce their allegiance to God’s enemy and submit to Christ.


In answer to the disciples’ question on why they could not cast out the demon, Mark has Jesus reply this way:


And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”[4]


Prayer, before we confront a demon, is necessary. When we consider the incident of the possessed boy in Matthew 17 and Mark 9, we see that three things were identified by our Lord: the faith of the disciple, the faith of the recipient, and prayer.


The KJV (and NKJV) has something a little different in our Lord’s answer to the disciples’ question:


And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.[5]


The KJV has our Lord adding fasting with prayer. Most modern translations[6] omit the word, fasting, because some of the earliest manuscripts in Greek do not have the word. It is difficult to tell what Mark actually wrote in this one verse. In the rare instances (there are only a few in the entire Bible) where there exists different readings, there is an assumption that additions by scribes are more likely to have occurred than omissions. This may be true. On the other hand, omissions are possible and some readers like to take what could be called “the safe position.” That is, when a certain reading is uncertain, the safest procedure is to take the longer reading because that will include what is certain and will also include what may have been added but what could possibly be an original reading. If we do that with Mark 9 then we will fast also.


It is evident that, from many other passages in the Bible, fasting gives us greater spiritual power. (Think of our Lord’s fast before being tempted and the commonality of fasting in the early church when they were about to make important decisions.)


Therefore, the way we bind the strong man is through faith, prayer, and fasting.


Do not think that demonic oppression and possession are limited to ancient times. Demons are still active. Missionaries come across them more often than we do here because Satan’s strategy in the West is to hide himself. I read a book entitled, Demon Experiences in Many Lands, which was an amazing and frightening book. It chronicles recent experiences of missionaries. Worth reading!


Returning to our text in Matthew 12, Jesus says something quite important:


Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. [7]


See how those who have not yet surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ will have no hope at the Judgment. Nice old ladies, your neighbor who puts in a hard day’s work, your coworkers who are friendly enough, your relatives who go to church twice per year….they are all against Christ if they are not with him! To be “with Christ” is to be working with him. It is to be both regenerated and active.


But then Jesus says something that applies to his own as well as the lost: “Whoever does not gather with me scatters!”


I talk quite a bit about proclaiming Christ to others, don’t I? In fact, I fear some may think, “Oh no! The pastor is going to talk about evangelizing again!” Here is a question: Why do I speak frequently about reaching out? The answer is because Jesus did! Jesus spoke frequently about it! So, I can do nothing less!


Jesus is gathering. He said that if we are not gathering with him then we are scattering. This goes against our natural thinking. We might think that, if we are not gathering people, then we know that we are not doing what we are supposed to; but we would not think that we are scattering…we’re just not gathering. But he says we are scattering. How is that so?


It is so because the world is in the power of the evil one. Jesus is saying these words immediately after he cast out a demon and stating that one must first bind the strong man. Besides occasionally possessing a person, what does Beelzebub (or his demons) do? They seek to prevent people from coming to Christ for salvation. They are scattering people away from Christ. Therefore, if a disciple of the Lord is not gathering with the Lord then, by virtue of their inactivity, they are assisting the scattering.


This is not my idea. Jesus is the one who said, “Whoever does not gather with me scatters.”


Then there is the world itself. The “world” is a system of values and desires that sets itself against God’s law and wholesome desires. In fact, the world is under the great influence of Satan:


We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. [8]

It is not simply demons working alone. They have an entire system of thoughts and values on their side. This worldly system scatters people away from Christ. Therefore, those disciples who are not gathering empower the world to keep people captive in its system.


The difficulty in gathering people to Christ goes beyond even the powerful influence of the devil and the world. A person’s own nature, who they are, leaves them with no desire for Christ. We are born with a sinful nature – a nature that flees from God rather than towards God.  The apostle Paul calls this nature, “the flesh.”


For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. [9]


There is no hope for a person left to themself. They will never come to Christ. They are scattered and only become further scattered as life goes on.


It is only through the Spirit’s power to soften a heart, turning a person’s heart from indifference and hostility to desire, that someone will come to Christ. But….


14 But how can they call to him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed?[10]


Now we understand that those who are not gathering are scattering because the power of the world, the flesh, and spiritual forces leads people away from Christ. We must proclaim the truth of the gospel, otherwise we are helping to scatter!


This seems radical. It seems too much. Do you know what? The genuine Christian life is a radical life! The life of a disciple is all or nothing!


It’s radical! But, again, these are not my words. They are our Lords: “Whoever does not gather with me scatters.”


This time of year makes it easier to gather. Peoples’ hearts are more tender this time of year as they recollect childhood Christmas memories and feel drawn closer to family. You can open doors of opportunity by simply asking questions.


“What does Christmas mean to you?”


“Why was Christ born?” (John 18:37)


“Why did Christ have to die?” (I Cor. 15:3, I Peter 3:18)


‘Why did he rise from the dead?” (Romans 5:10; 6:4)


“Christ called people to follow him when he was here. Do you think he is still calling people to follow him?” (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38-39)


“If you follow him he will forgive your sins and heaven will await you. Would you like to trust him and follow him now?”




[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:28). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 9:29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mk 9:29). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] Although some include it: EHV, ISV, JUB, MEV, NKJV, NMB, TPT, RGT, WEB, WET, and YLT. (See for the meaning of these acronyms.) Generally, those translations relying upon the Majority text include it and those relying on the Alexandrian text omit it.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 5:19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:7–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] American Bible Society. (1992). The Holy Bible: The Good news Translation (2nd ed., Ro 10:14). New York: American Bible Society.