The Messiah and Satan

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 12:22-37. Here, Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, but offers a stern rebuke of this and some words about what has come to be known as the unforgivable sin. I explored what that unforgivable sin really is, and also the significance of our words in showing forth who we really are.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

Jesus’ Power Over Demons

The reality of demonic powers and Satan’s kingdom

  • the effects upon this man (12:22)
  • the reality of Satan’s kingdom (12:26)

The work of Jesus in relation to these powers

  • healing (12:22)
  • driving out demons (12:27)
  • kingdom of God breaking in (12:28)
  • tying up the strong man and restoring house (12:29)

Jesus’ Power and the Unforgiveable Sin

  • Jesus delivers by the power of God’s Spirit (12:28)
  • Jesus’ deliverance divides humanity (12:30)
  • Jesus’ work and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (12:31-32)

Jesus and the Significance of Words

  • Our words come from within (12:33-35)
  • Our words reflect who we are (12:35)
  • Our words define whose we are (12:36-37)

Making It Real

  1. Acknowledge Jesus as Lord over all, including demonic powers.
  2. Trust in the victory of Jesus and the Cross.
  3. Be aware of and beware the power of our words.

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ power and authority over all things, including the spiritual, in one or more of the following ways:

The Double-Guarding of Our Mouths

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies. (Psalm 141:3-4)

The psalmist asks God to place a guard over his mouth. On the one hand, this guard is to watch over what may come out of the mouth: words that can be either good or vile. The Apostle James once described the tongues as “a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” (James 3:6). Elsewhere he writes, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (1:26). We need a guard over our mouths so that our words might not set a destructive fire but instead might bring a soothing balm and instructive guidance to others.

One the other hand, this guard over our mouths also protects us from what might come into us. When the psalmist later writes, “do not let me eat their delicacies,” he is not writing about physical food but something else. He describes the wicked deeds and the ways of evildoers as something sweet and attractive that could overcome him. Feeding on them would lead to change on the inside so that his being might be corrupted by savoring what is wrong. This is similar to Jesus’ words:

The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19)

In a sense, then, we need a guard over our mouths spiritually so that our hearts might not be corrupted by what we take in and savor in our souls.

Lord, search through me in regard to this double-guarding of my mouth. First, reveal to me any way that my words need to be not only filtered but refined. May my words spoken reflect You and Your truth. Second, reveal to me any way that what I take in and savor in my heart must be purified or refined. “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

“In Everything”: the comprehensive call to love our neighbor

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Now, even though it could feel like Jesus’ summary statement in Matthew 7:12 is the sort of thing you would find in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, there is one little phrase that makes that impossible. It’s this phrase: “in everything…” This little phrase, just one word in Greek, captures so much.

Now, think with me about what it would look like for all of our actions to reflect this:

  • what actions would we take in order to love others: our spouses, our colleagues, our children, our parents, total strangers, those in need?
  • what actions would we hold back from in order to truly love and serve others?

Consider what it would look like for all of our words to reflect Jesus’ guidance:

  • what words would we speak in order to truly love and serve others?
  • what words would never cross our lips in order to truly love and serve others?

And then there are our thoughts, our inner meditations. Jesus once said,

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)

We often talk about having a filter on what we say or do. It is good to have a filter, but what would it look like to let our thoughts and inner, unexpressed desires reflect Jesus’ teaching about treating others the way we would want to be treated. Consider with me:

  • what do our inner thoughts say about how much we truly love others?
  • what do we say in private about others that we would never speak in public? Why is there a difference?

And what about one more category that may seem strange. What about our non-thoughts; the ways we naturally see and evaluate people and situations without even thinking about it? What do our non-thoughts—our prejudices, assumptions, and non-cognitive ways of assessing people—say about our love or lack of love for others? How might our lives and interactions with others be transformed as we let God reach into and transform our non-thoughts?

Jesus tells us:

“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

From top to bottom, from the inside to the outside,Jesus’ disciples live in God’s love and live with God’s love for others.

The Weekend Wanderer: 8 February 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

The Course - Jessica Bruah“The Cancer Chair: Is suffering meaningless?” – Christian Wiman, American poet and Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School, writes about his journey with cancer and questions about the meaning of suffering. Always an astute craftsman of words (if you haven’t read My Bright Abyss, do yourself a favor and read it sometime soon!), Wiman brings together reflections on his own cancer, the book of Job, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone Weil, Albert Camus, and the Cross of Christ.

 

0_DydTubCNbDSFL-mb“From the Abundance of the Heart” – Alan Jacobs shares an essay on a topic that more of us should think about, particularly in the social media era: the power of our words. Relating an experience of giving a lecture based on an essay he had written but not yet published, Jacobs encountered the sourness of his words as they came out of his mouth, bringing a sense of conviction about the fact that these were both his words and words of which he did not approve at the same. There are some interesting insights here about the words of Jesus: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

 

Vector picture of Human Evolution“What If We Don’t Have to Choose Between Evolution and Adam and Eve?” – When I was working as a college pastor in the early 2000s, we conducted a teaching series called “Hot Topics,” where we engaged with controversial issues facing students in relation to faith. One of those topics that continues to be hotly debated in certain circles is the relationship between creation and evolution. Just this past year, S. Joshua Swamidass, a computational biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, published The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry in an attempt to change the terms of the debate. His book is up for a Reader’s Choice Award at InterVarsity Press. Here’s an interview with Swamidass about his book and his thought-provoking claims.

 

Dorothy Sayer mystery“‘No Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition or Mumbo Jumbo’: Dorothy L Sayers and the Detection Club” – Dorothy Sayers, one of the most incisive writers and thinkers of her era, is perhaps known best today for her connection to the Inklings, a group of writer including J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Christians may know her for her radio play, The Man Born to Be King, or The Mind of the Maker, but Sayers was well-known for her mystery-writing with the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. Sayers founded the Detection Club to support mystery writing, and it apparently still exists today. Who knew?

 

rohr_edit“Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe” – These days I cannot seem to take more than a few steps within Christian circles without someone mentioning Richard Rohr. He is one of those authors whose influence looms large for those who are seeking to reengage with faith and spirituality in an ecclesially disillusioned age. There are certain impulses about Rohr that I appreciate, some theological moves that deeply concern me, and a few other things about him that just drive me nuts. Love him or hate him, you have to reckon with Richard Rohr in discussions of faith today. Back in July, I shared Matthew Milliner’s helpful “field guide” to Rohr, and just this week Eliza Griswold offered a more personal look Rohr and his influence in North America today.

 

Steve Gillen“Willow Creek’s interim pastor to step down as church drops top candidates to fill Hybels’ shoes” – Speaking of ecclesial disillusionment, Willow Creek continues to reel after the leadership crisis surrounding misconduct accusations against former Senior Pastor Bill Hybels. After the top two candidates for filling the Senior Pastor role were released by Willow Creek, Steve Gillen, Willow’s acting senior pastor, tendered his resignation effective March 17 because of the protracted nature of the search. Looming in the background are recent accusations that Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, an influential founder of Willow Creek and mentor to Bill Hybels, has also been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct both at Willow Creek and during his time at Wheaton College. May God purify His church and have mercy upon His people.

 

Music: Asgeir, “Until Daybreak,” from Bury the Moon

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Rob Bell on Words at #fantastical

Here are my notes on Rob Bell’s message Friday morning at David Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Rob is saying here, I think it is a very interesting conversation around the importance of words in worship.

Rob Bell, Friday morning

Thesis: Words can be used in lots of ways.

Consider what we are doing when we speak and for the worship leader to place words on peoples’ lips; creating physical unity (breathing) in the room with singing and responsive readings.

Creating a space for both joy and release and unity

Words can be used for definitive precision and technical description (e.g., auto mechanic giving diagnosis and remedy for your car)

Words can also be used as:Read More »