January 16, 2022 New Relationships

New Relationships

January 16, 2022




Scripture: Matthew 12:43-50.


Jesus says that when a demon leaves a person it cannot find a resting place. You see, there are times when demons leave a person without that person becoming a follower of Christ. For example, even in the days of Jesus and the apostles, there were Jewish exorcists who sometimes had success. If a demon leaves a person for any reason other than faith and repentance, where the Holy Spirit would come to dwell within that person, then it will return to that person with more demons! So our Lord taught.


Of course, this scenario is true. However, our Lord brings it up only as an illustration of what would happen to the nation of Israel. He says that in the same way demons return to an individual, they will return to the nation. Why? Because the nation did not repent.


Demons not only influence and infest people, but they will influence and infest geographical areas, such as parts of certain cities, whole cities, and even nations. I attended and graduated from California State University, East Bay. When I was there I belonged to a small, but dynamic, church. There were seven churches affiliated with one another in the Bay Area and the largest of them was located in Berkeley, CA. There would be conferences at the Berkeley church because they had the most spacious building. So, our church would travel to Berkeley once or twice each year for a conference. It was about a 30 or 40 minute drive to Berkeley from Hayward, CA where our church was located. Everytime we crossed the city limits into Berkeley I felt a strange but strong feeling of oppression. I could feel the presence of unseen forces there.


For those who are old enough to remember, Berkeley has been the location of numerous riots and upheavals over the years, going back to Ronald Reagan’s term as governor of the state.

The modern open-air preaching movement was started in the 1960’s after having been dormant (really, non-existent) since the days of the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800’s. The man who started it was named Hubert Lindsey. He was a pastor of a church and the Lord put it on his heart to reach more of the lost. So he started preaching at outdoor venues and college campuses. He started being called “Holy Hubert.” He gained great success. Not so much with conversions, although there were many. But success in the sense that he would gather crowds of many dozens and even hundreds of people who would hear his faithful preaching. It was at the University of California at Berkeley that he was beaten up so badly that he lost his eyesight.


I viewed another video from about 20 years ago where another street preacher was preaching at the same campus and two students (who looked to be in their 30’s!) were walking around him in a circle over and over and were spewing forth all kinds of wicked vulgarities. Their voices were unnatural and simply weird. To me, it was obvious that they were demon possessed.


Berkeley was, and likely still is, a place of demons. There are many such places on earth. In the time of Christ, Israel was such a place. When Christ ministered there he cast out many demons, as recorded in the gospels, and after three years there was a measure of relief from demonic influence. Jesus even said:


The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.[1]


Demons fled! After Jesus returned to heaven and after the apostles were martyred, the demons returned with a vengeance. The seven years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem manifested great evil and wickedness in Jerusalem, including even murder within the holy temple. Josephus chronicles these events in his history. He was an eyewitness to the events. Thus, the words of our Lord were fulfilled.


The place where we live reveals the influences upon that place. The influences come from both the people who live there as well as spiritual forces. In whatever community we live, we can be a positive influence. Be a light! Resist evil in every form where you live!


While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [2]


In this marvelous passage, the Lord teaches us that we must view our relationships in a new way.


We all have a tendency to prioritize our family relationships over other kinds of relationships. When we consider the kinds of relationships we have, such as employment relationships, friendships, our relationship to the government, even our relationships with non-persons, like hobbies and sports, our priority should be our family.


Most of us have known people or heard about people who prioritize their jobs above their family. That is a recipe for disaster! Putting excessive time into your job is, most often, the result of prioritizing either money or pride over human relationships. Marriages have failed because of this temptation.


Likewise, we may have known people who put so much time in their hobbies that they similarly neglect their family. Another recipe for disaster. Men – your wife or your parents are more important than your car or your hunting or your fishing. Women – your husband and your children are more important than your pets or your favorite pastime.


Because we know that our family relationships are more important than other kinds of relationships, we may find what our Lord says here disconcerting. Yet, what he says here cannot be mistaken. It is clear that he affirms that our relationship with those who do the will of God must be more endearing than our natural relationships.


For some, this will feel just right. It is the way things should be. For others, it will be hard to fathom because they may have such strong emotional attachments to their natural relations that it will be hard to put them second.


Jesus said:


“Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [3]


We see that God has a will. If we will understand God’s will, then we will better understand why we must align ourselves with, and place first, our relationships with those who are in it rather than with those who are not.


[1.] First, God has a will for our being. That is, he has a will for who we are in our core, our spirit. The will of God is that we become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). If our natural family, either original or marital, has members that are not part of God’s new creation then they are outside of God’s will. It may be that they have a sweet disposition. It may be that they avoid the most damaging sins and try to live morally. Yet, if they have not been born from above they are outside of God’s will.


[2.] God has a will in our living. When someone possesses genuine faith they express a desire to follow God’s will in their everyday life. The natural person lives by one of two principles. They either are driven by their own desires. Sometimes these desires are good. Sometimes they are bad. Often, they are frivolous. Whatever they are, they are simply their own desires.


The other principle that a natural person may live by is the desires of someone they love. This is better than living for self. Yet, it is still wildly off the mark. It is because the desires of the person we live for will often just be that person’s own desires. Those desires, too, can be good, or bad, or frivolous. Whatever they are, they are human desires.


A disciple of Christ, however, seeks God’s desires above all others. That person becomes our mother or sister or brother!


[3.] There is a will of God for our speaking. God’s will in our speaking is for wholesome words:


Let no aunwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.[4]


Our words should be healthy and gracious. We do not gossip, nor slander, nor complain. Yet, this sort of negative speaking is quite common among the unredeemed.


The most wholesome words are those of God, are they not? The will of God for our speaking is to “speak God’s words after Him.”[5]


And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

  19      speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;[6]


If we speak Psalms to one another, we will find those in the Bible. We must have familiarity with them in order to speak them.


“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your word with all confidence,[7]


Those who are praying here in Acts 4 are not the apostles, but the whole assembly (4:23-24). In other words, all the believers were asking to speak the word of God with confidence. Well, brothers and sisters, do I need to even say that we cannot speak the word of God to others unless we know the word of God! We cannot speak the word of God if the word of God is not in us!


Those who follow Christ fill their heart with God’s word.


This is why we must own our fellow disciples as our true family. Because they speak the words of God! We need to hear God’s words as often as we can for they are life itself! We don’t need many words about the news, politics, fashion, or sports. We need the “living and powerful” words of God (Heb. 4:12; NKJV)!


[4.] There is a will of God even for our thinking! We are to “think God’s thoughts after him.”[8]


“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a delighted soul: for Yahweh searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.[9]


The Lord desires that we serve him not out of compulsion or only from a sense of duty, but that we serve him with our whole heart. He desires that we delight in him! This shows that we must get beyond outward conformities to God’s law. Living God’s commands are always better than living by our own desires. But the Lord seeks to have our very desires in conformity with his.


I am using the words heart, desires, and thoughts synonymously.  Our thoughts reveal what our intentions are, our deepest desires; because what we desire we then think about.


God not only understands “every intent of the thoughts,” but he seeks to conform them to his. This is the goal of every true disciple. They wish to cast their selfish desires and thoughts to the moles and the bats and they wish to have the Lord’s desires and thoughts as their own.


We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,[10]


In this verse Paul is referring to arguments of others that we destroy through divine wisdom drawn from Scripture. The “taking every thought captive” would be the thoughts of others who oppose God or his revelation.  But, certainly, we must take our own thoughts captive as well! Our own thoughts sometimes are not in sync with those of Christ.


Here is the point: those in our natural families who are not following Christ are living by their own intentions. They have thoughts that are contrary to Christ. When God’s people are conforming their thoughts to his, the church becomes a place where this influence conforms our own thinking. We need our thinking transformed (Romans 12:2)! We need brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and fathers who will help us to transform our minds!


Thus, we need to spend our time with those who do the will of God! This is the teaching of the Lord Jesus in these verses.


See this! Jesus was not only teaching this truth but he was living it. His own mother was attempting to speak with him. She wanted to speak with him. He knew that she wanted to speak with him, yet he did not speak with her. He continued teaching those who desired to hear God.


The Lord is our example. To follow his example we, too, must seek the company of those who desire the will of God and do the will of God!


God’s will is to:


  • change who we are. The local church is where we find those who have been changed in their being.
  • Live for Him. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are living for him. As we see their living, our own living will be positively influenced.
  • Have us speak the word of God daily. Our fellow disciples are speaking the word of God. We need to hear it! And, we ourselves need to be speaking encouraging words to them.
  • Have us think the Lord’s thoughts. Our fellow disciples have the mind of Christ (I Cor 2:16).


Will you commit in 2022 to make the new relationships that you have in Christ your priority? Meet with God’s children as often as you can. If you are not attending Adult Sunday School begin doing so. If you are not attending the prayer meeting do so. We also have home Bible studies and book studies. Attend one. Or, start one!


Make 2022 the year that you follow the Lord in your new relationships!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 10:17–19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:46–50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:49b–50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 4:29). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[5] I heard this phrase from some Christian author or speaker, but I cannot remember whom. It may have been Greg Bahnsen because he has also used a similar phrase that will appear below.

[6] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Eph 5:18–19). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[7] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Ac 4:29). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[8] From Dr. Greg Bahnsen, who in turn learned it from his mentor, Cornelius Van Til.

[9] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (1 Ch 28:9). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 10:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.