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The Denouncing of Unbelief

January 12, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Unbelief Verse: Luke 11:14–11:23

The Denouncing of Unbelief

Luke 11:14-23

Theme: A person must either accept or reject Jesus as Savior – there is no middle ground.

Introduction: In a day of relativity, most people reject the notion that truth is black and white – but rather there are innumerable shades of gray. Everyone’s ideas are equally valid and those who accept propositional, or absolute, truth are viewed as unsophisticated or simple. However, Scripture informs us that there are only two categories of people – those who submit themselves to Jesus Christ and those who do not. In the struggle between truth and error, good and evil, heaven and hell, and God and Satan there is no middle ground. Although there will always be a struggle within us to believe as we ought, we either know the grace of God through faith or we do not. 

There are those who believe but desire greater faith – cp. Mark 9:24.  However, there are those who choose not to believe because they understand that faith in God will require unfaithfulness to themselves – John 3:18-21. Someone once said: “There is  no one so blind as one who will not see.” There is a deliberate, purposeful, intentional hatred of Jesus Christ by those who love their sin – they’ll choose their sin over Jesus – cp. John 7:7.

In our text today, we see such sinners – prideful, legalistic, sinful religious leaders who saw Jesus as a threat to their significance, influence, and indulgences. There are three reasons that Jesus denounces such unbelief in our text – forcing us to recognize that a person must either accept or reject Jesus as Savior – there is no middle ground.

I. Unbelief Disputes the Power of God – 11:14-16

A. It Disputes the Source of God’s Power – vv. 14-15  

  • There is a significant transition found in this section from the previous – a discussion on the spiritually enriching expression of genuine faith through prayer to the abject rejection of truth and hostility toward Jesus – foreshadowing the end.
  • Jesus is viewed in His ministry of compassion in delivering people enslaved through Satanic influence and power – “And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed.”
  • That “the crowds were amazed” [ἐθαύμασαν] – indicated that the impact of Christ’s power over Satan was unmistakable – it created “wonder,” or “astonishment.”
  • As a result, the enemies of Christ – “rigored” in unbelief – couldn’t deny the reality of what Jesus did, unlike the liberals distanced by time who simply dismiss such accounts as fabrications.
  • Those present had to admit that the power over darkness was real, was successful, and was evidence of Christ’s authority.
  • However, the source of that authority was disputed by unbelief – “But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’”
  1. “Beelzebul” is likely a derivation of a Philistine god known as “the lord of the flies” and became a favored Jewish reference to Satan. 
  2. It is clarified that the reiteration of “the ruler of the demons” as a reference to Satan.
  • This is the most heinous, most insulting, most demeaning alternate explanation of Jesus’ power possible – it was a verbal spitting upon the character and nature of God’s power in Jesus – cp. Matthew 12:30-32.
  • This demonstrates for us that resistance to the power of Christ is a resistance to the power of God’s Spirit and is therefore an affront to God Himself.
  • As long as a person opposes God, there is no hope for their salvation – and as such, their sin is unpardonable since the only means of forgiveness for sin is through faith in Jesus Christ – Acts 4:10-12.

B. It Disputes the Sufficiency of God’s Power – v. 16

  • Other unbelievers were a bit taken back by the boldness and extremism of the blatant accusations of Jesus using Satanic power came up with a more acceptable way of rejecting Jesus.
  • These “… to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.”
  • As if the myriads of miracles that He had already performed were not enough, they claimed that something more convincing would be appreciated.
  • Their perspective was: “Do something really spectacular” – something that would undeniably be “from heaven.”
  • Luke says that they were “demanding” [ζητέω] – to seek or request or require – their faith needed just one more proof, and then another, and another without ever truly coming to faith.
  • Their unbelief is comparable to the rich man whose greed remained unsatisfied by the many millions of dollars he possessed and declared that it would only take “one more dollar” to satisfy him – cp. Luke 16:31.
  • Thus, unbelief is not the result of inadequate proofs, but the rejection of the proofs that are divinely provided.

Application:

  1. How eager are you to give glory to God for the things He does in your life?
  2. Can you think of an example of when you felt that God needed to “prove Himself” to you? 
  3. What is the most significant thing you can name that God did for you this past week?

II. Unbelief Disregards the Presence of God – 11:17-20

A. It Is Irrational – vv. 17-18

  • As we move through this text, we come now to Jesus continues to manifest the glory of God – “But He knew their thoughts and said to them …”
  • It is difficult to argue with someone who knows what you are thinking and what you are going to say even before you do.
  • Jesus confronts His enemies’ assertions that He is helping people be freed from Satan’s power through Satan’s power by saying to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.”
  • Essentially, he addresses their objections by demonstrating the absurdity of the premise – a person cannot win by defeating themselves.
  • Their assertions demonstrated the irrationality of unbelief – that they’d believe an oxymoron before they would yield to the truth.
  • The passions of unbelief often cause the upset of logic wherein what are clearly absurd alternatives to the truth become attractive assertions of truth.
  • To assert that Jesus was in league with Satan for the purpose of defeating Satan is preposterous – “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast our demons by Beelzebul.”
  • In reality, everything about Jesus – His piety, purity, power, passions all are antithetical to Satan and His Kingdom.
  • Jesus’ expressed purpose is that He has come to “destroy the works of the Devil” – cp. 1 John 3:8; 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14.

B. It Is Dishonest – vv. 19-20

  • Jesus continues to refute the perspectives of unbelief and the excuses that are thrown up by confronting their hypocrisy – “But if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?”
  • He declares that the efforts that those they produce claim to represent God but cannot prevail are of God, then they are saying that failure is the prerequisite for representing the power of God – cp. Acts 19:13-16.
  • Jesus then curses them by saying: “So they will be your judges.”
  • Jesus then states that they are, like Pharaoh who rejected Moses and the plagues of God in Egypt, rejecting God and the power of His kingdom that was standing before them – “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” – cp. Exodus 8:19.
  • Even Pharaoh came to recognize that it was God who was at work to bring the plagues, but the Pharisees were undeterred.
  • Their refusal to acknowledge that Jesus was from God was dishonest – they simply refused and grasped at straws to justify their unbelief.

Application:

  1. How does/should realizing that Jesus knows your thoughts affect your integrity before Him?
  2. Can you think of a truth you simply do not want to believe? What can you do to submit to what you truly know to be right?
  3. Think of a way that you failed to be honest before the Lord this week and repent of it.

III. Unbelief Defies the Purposes of God – 11:21-23

A. The Objective of God’s Purposes – vv. 21-22

  • Jesus continues to address the opposition that He provides to Satan – “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.”
  • This is a description of Satan’s control over sinners over whom he rules as the god of the world.
  • In essence, Jesus says that someone who is “strong” and “fully armed” is molested because he prevails as the main power or authority.
  • The greatest power that men have been enslaved by is that of Satan who in Jesus’ illustration is this “strong man” – cp. Hebrews 2:15, 2 Timothy 2:26.
  • However, one of the reasons Jesus came was to render Satan powerless – to vanquish him – cp. 1 John 3:8.
  • Hence Jesus declares: “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.”
  • By “distribut[ing] his plunder” Jesus refers to the deliverance out of darkness and the freedom that He grants through the forgiveness of sin – Colossians 1:13-14.

B. The Opposition to God’s Purposes – v. 23

  • Jesus now brings his point to a crescendo – “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.”
  • People fall into one of two categories – there are not three categories – either they are believers in Christ or they are rejecters of Christ.
  • No one is neutral or autonomous – you are either freed from the “strong man” by the One who is “stronger” or you are part of the plunder being guarded by the “strong man.”
  • You should ask yourself, “Where do I stand?” – between the two possible positions – Jesus or Satan.
  • If you are being plundered by Satan, you need to look to Christ who is able to free you and “gather” you into the freedom found in the Kingdom of light.
  • If you have been delivered, then stop behaving as though you remain under the possession of him who has been stripped of his power, protection, and possessions!
  • Instead, stand with Christ and “gather with Him” by proclaiming the light of liberty and forgiveness of sin through His name!

Application:

  1. Think about how Jesus delivers you from the bondage that you were in under Satan – how has freedom been experienced by you?
  2. This week, have you sensed the Jesus is the “someone stronger” than Satan in your life? … give an example?
  3. How are you able to be described as “gathering with Jesus?”

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