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Drawing a Line in the Sand

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
August 28, 2023 12:00 am

Drawing a Line in the Sand

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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August 28, 2023 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version and read the manuscript for this message here: The scene of this study is not unfamiliar in the four Gospel accounts. Yet again, Jesus faces challenges among the crowd, who are being stirred up against Him by the Jewish religious leaders. This time, they question from where Jesus has obtained His miraculous power. But, as we've seen so often before, Jesus flips the question back on the corrupt religious leaders, and in the process, reminds us Who's power we are submitting to when we accept Jesus as our Savior.


He says here in verse 23, whoever is not with me is against me. You know what Jesus is saying here? He's saying, look, what you have in front of you today is a demonstration of the hand of God.

But it's more than that. You have the Lord of the kingdom here performing this demonstration as if to say I am the physical, tangible manifestation of the finger of God. And because of who I am, it's time for you to decide who you are. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Today Stephen begins a series through a section of Luke called Ministering to the Multitude. In this message, you'll encounter a familiar story. Jesus faced challenges among the crowd because they were being stirred up against him by the religious leaders. This time, they questioned where Jesus obtained his miraculous power.

But Jesus flips the question back on the corrupt religious leaders and in the process, reminds you whose power you're submitting to when you accept Jesus as your savior. The expression drawing a line in the sand is a phrase that refers to making an important decision that determines direction in life in some significant way. Legend has it that this phrase originated with the Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 BC where a line was drawn in the sand that they would not retreat from as they faced the opposing Persian army. There is the legend of a Roman general centuries later who drew a line in the sand daring an enemy commander to cross it and start a war.

This expression drawing a line in the sand represents really to this day and we use it to this day as a phrase referring to some significant moment, some decisive event in life. Several times now in the ministry of Jesus, we have been told that the crowds are gathering. The crowds are growing in number, Luke 11 29, thousands of people gather to hear them even trampling one another. Luke chapter 12 verse 1, they're coming from everywhere, they're massing around this miracle worker, this radical teacher who claimed divine power. We arrive now at this significant event where the conflict between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness takes center stage. In Luke's gospel as we arrive at chapter 11 and verse 14, Jesus is effectively going to say I'm going to draw a line in the sand now. It's time to decide whose side you're on. That's the question of the ages. That's the significant encounter that may need to occur this morning in your life.

Whose side are you on? Now Luke records here in chapter 11 and verse 14. Now he, Jesus, was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the people marveled.

They were stunned. Matthew's gospel by the way adds that this demonized man was both mute and blind as a result of demon possession. See the religious world of Jesus's day is already convinced that the power of restoring sight and the inerrant power of controlling the demonic world belonged only to God.

Only God can do that. Even the religious individuals were unable at times to free some demonized person. Add to that all the superstitions that were being taught during the Lord's day. The rabbis were teaching the people that demons haunted narrow pathways. They haunted rooftops. They haunted even outhouses.

I can believe that one by the way. The rabbis taught that there were morning demons and midday demons and evening demons. There were exorcists during the Lord's day on the payroll of the temple.

They developed all this superstition which exists to this day in the religious world. They said what you needed to do is recite certain psalms. You needed to write verses and put them in little boxes and wear them as protection against demons.

You need to write some of them on the doorposts of your home. You need to get the special incense to burn in order to be protected. You need to say these incantations over and over again.

Here's the point. They knew that only God had the power to simply command the demons without having to use any incense or any incantation. So here comes Jesus. No no holy oil, no incense, no mumbo jumbo, no hocus pocus, just one word and this man is free.

So now this leaves them with an option here. Here it is at verse 15. Some of them said he casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Verse 5.

In other words, we can't discredit what he's doing so we're going to discredit how he's doing it. He's doing it by the power of Beelzebul. The name Beelzebul is a compound word made up of Beel or Baal. That's the leading Canaanite god of fertility. The ark enemy as it were of Israel over the centuries, it means lord. Baal means lord. Zebul means exalted dwelling. It could be rendered the house, the kingdom, lord of the house, lord of the kingdom. Well the Israelites over time basically came to mock this name by changing it to Beelzebub which meant over in 2 Kings 1, lord of the flies.

It was a reference to the dung flies, the flies that laid their eggs in manure. Well that's what they would refer to when they referred to Satan as the vile lord over all that is corrupt. Now Matthew's gospel account informs us that this blasphemy, which is simply utter rejection of Christ, which is by the way unforgivable.

You can't reject him and go to heaven. But it was the Pharisees were the ones who threw this accusation at Jesus. They can't deny his power. They can't ignore his miracles. They can't explain away how easy it is for him with a word to command the demonic forces.

So the only thing they can think of doing is accuse him of being in league with the prince of demons. Some in the crowd aren't as convinced as the Pharisees. Luke says here in verse 16, while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. The Israelites here could have wanted him to replicate the sun standing still as God did in Joshua chapter 10. Perhaps they're looking for manna to fall from heaven as it did in Exodus 16. Or maybe the turning back of daylight as in 2 Kings 20. Or maybe even fire falling from the sky which vindicated the prophet Elijah as he is battling the prophets of Baal. 1 Kings 18.

That'll settle it. Do what Elijah did. Show us you're not in league with Baal by calling down fire from heaven. Jesus isn't going to play into this. They've already seen his miracles. They've already witnessed one demonstration after another, one sign after another.

One author said they now want signs, that the signs were signs. Now what Jesus does next, and here's where I want to focus, is make them think. He enrolls them in a crash course in logic. Doesn't quote a verse.

It just challenges them to use their heads for a change. And in his response, he's going to lead them into this logical cul-de-sac that effectively silences them. Now for the sake of our study, let me put his response into three questions that he essentially asks them.

Here's the first one. Why would Satan empower me to destroy himself? Verse 17. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?

In other words, you need to think about it here. If Satan has turned and is now in the business of casting out his own demons, then the demonic world is now in civil war. It's divided against itself.

That's a formula for defeat. So while they're standing, they're kind of scratching their heads over this little dilemma. Jesus asks them the second question.

Let me put it like this. If Satan's the one empowering me, how do you know he's not empowering all of you? Verse 18, the middle part. But you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul, and if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. In other words, let your own disciples, your own spiritual descendants of the faith be the judge. Are they empowered by Satan or by God? What would they say? Well, the answer's obvious. So if Satan's empowering me, how do you know they're telling the truth and he isn't empowering them? And now they're scratching both sides of their heads.

Here's the third question. If Satan's kingdom is powerless before my word, isn't it obvious that my kingdom is more powerful than his? Verse 20, but if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. In other words, you're in the presence of the true king. You're watching a demonstration of the power of my kingdom over the kingdom of darkness. Since you know this means this is really God, what Jesus is saying is you have to know that I have the right to be your king. You ready to surrender? You ready to cross that line?

Or do you want to deny the obvious? Jesus goes on and gives them an illustration here in verse 21. When a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are safe. But when once stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.

Let me tell you, by now everybody's getting the picture here. Satan is the strong man. He seems to be in control of his palace. He's in charge of his castle and nobody messes with him unless someone stronger than he is shows up at the palace gate and overthrows his little castle and the lord of this little kingdom. It isn't even a fight.

It's just a word. What does this reveal? Well, by now the Pharisees are wishing they'd never brought up Beelzebul. But it's too late. Let me tell you what they're seeing. Jesus puts it this way back in verse 20. This is the finger of God. Oh, they would have immediately caught that illusion. This would have taken them back to Exodus chapter eight where Pharaoh's magicians are unable to duplicate the plagues at a certain point. God just sort of turns it off as they were faking their way through it and they finally, these magicians, yield to the supremacy of Moses' God and they tell Pharaoh, quote, this is the finger of God. This would take them back to Mount Sinai in Exodus chapter 31 where we're told that those 10 commandments were inscribed, quote, written by the finger of God.

This would take them back to David's great song where he declared that the heavens, the moon, and the stars, they are the work of the fingers of God. You know what Jesus is saying here? He's saying, look, what you have in front of you today is a demonstration of the hand of God.

But it's more than that. You have the Lord of the kingdom here performing this demonstration as if to say, I am the physical, tangible manifestation of the finger of God. And because of who I am, it's time for you to decide who you are. He says here in verse 23, whoever is not with me is against me. Whoever does not gather with me scatters. You're either working with me to gather my followers or you're working against me. Satan is scattering, he's destroying.

Look at this man. Jesus is gathering and he's building. Warren Wiersbe writes an application from this text, we must make a choice. And if we choose to make no choice, we are actually choosing against Christ.

There's no middle of the road. The church has created that conundrum. Your Christianity is not neutrality. You are either for Jesus. You are either pro-Jesus or you're against him. In fact, I think it's interesting that Jesus does the same thing here that Elijah did.

And I wonder if they caught the illusion. After defeating the prophets of Baal, Elijah said to the nation, it's time for you to stop limping between two choices, two opinions. If the Lord is God, follow him. If Baal is God, then follow him.

That rings true to this day. You are either following God or following Baal. You either belong to the kingdom of darkness or you belong to the kingdom of light.

Neutrality is unbelief. Jesus just sort of draws the line in the sand and asks the question whose side are you on. Now because Jesus is capable of reading their minds, which would have been an intimidating thing to know as you listen to him preach. Verse 17, and he knew their thoughts.

Well, that means he knows that many in the crowd are saying to themselves the same things people are saying today, even in this auditorium. You know, I respect Jesus, but it's a little uncomfortable to follow him too openly. Right now, I don't want to be put in an awkward position of, you know, in front of my religious leaders, in front of my religious heritage, my parents, my friends, that I'm a follower. I don't want to go too far in following Jesus. Some of what he says is nice, but is everything he says necessary? Jesus really shouldn't draw a line in the sand like this. A little dogmatic. I think he's asking too much.

However, perhaps some were thinking, you know, I do need to clean up some stuff in my life. I know I'm not as good with God as I ought to be. Maybe I can meet him halfway. I'll let him be my example, but not my leader. He can be my savior, but not my sovereign. Can he be my friend without being my king?

No. I believe that's why Jesus goes on here to distinguish between moral reformation, sort of that, let me just clean a few things up, and spiritual regeneration. Verse 24, when the unclean spirit, Jesus continues, has gone out of a person, it passes through the waterless places, seeking rest and finding none. It says, I will return to my house from which I came. And when it comes, it finds the house, swept, and put in order.

Hey, what do you know? It's cleaned up. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first. You see, beloved, moral reformation without spiritual regeneration is worthless in combating the kingdom of darkness. In fact, to turn over a new leaf without having been given a new life through Christ puts you in greater danger than ever.

Here is someone Jesus describes as morally upright. I mean, they've swept, you know, clean of evil actions, so to speak. They might even be a little religiously devoted now, but the spiritual vacuum still exists. You cannot leave your soul empty. Moral reformation is not the goal.

It is spiritual regeneration. It isn't enough to banish evil thoughts and evil habits and old ways and leave the soul empty. An empty soul is a soul in peril. It is not enough to be done with evil. It's not enough to be empty to wrong.

We must be filled with all that is right as we follow our king. Now, immediately after this, you have another response from the crowd. This one is closer to the truth, but it still misses the point. Verse 27, as he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast set which you nursed. Now, this is actually a backhanded compliment. Your mother was so blessed to have a son like you, something my mother never heard when I was growing up. In fact, as I was studying this, I remembered a family that supported my missionary family for years, younger couple.

There were four of us boys, Daniel, Timothy, Jonathan, and Steven, and they had four boys, and they named them Daniel, Timothy, Jonathan, and something else. I never quite got over that. Take heart, Mom.

It's not over yet. It was common in Roman culture and in Jewish culture to congratulate or praise someone by praising their mother in indirect way. And this was kind. In fact, Jesus doesn't rebuke her. This is exactly what Elizabeth said to Mary when she found out Mary was carrying the Messiah. How blessed is your womb. Blessed are you among women.

What a privilege. Jesus doesn't scold her here. He just tells her she's missing the point. Verse 28, but he said, blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.

The original construction could be translated, yes, but blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Jesus isn't looking to be complimented or applauded or appreciated. He's demanding worship. He's demanding surrender. He's the king.

His word, which is the theme then of these events that Luke puts together, his word which freed this demonized man, this word that overpowers the castle of Satan, this word that fills the vacuum of an empty soul, this word that brings true blessing and life, this word draws a line in the sand, so to speak, and it invites you to cross over it and follow him into the kingdom of heaven or stay where you are and follow the kingdom of hell. It's time to decide. Are you with him or against him? I have read the results of a research project from Columbia University that took place a few years ago. The research found that the average person consciously makes around 70 decisions a day. That's 25,000 decisions a year. Now you know why you're tired of making decisions. Over the average lifetime of between 75 and 80 years, that comes to two million decisions in a lifetime. But let me tell you, of those two million decisions, none of them will ever be as significant as your decision to claim Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

In fact, that sets the stage for so many more. To open the door of your castle, to admit to your own sinful darkness, to lay down your arms and surrender to this strong one, this omnipotent Lord who is the King of Light, the King of everlasting life. Are you on his side? Would your friends believe that if you said you were?

Would your co-workers be surprised to hear you say that? Would your family be somewhat mystified for you to claim Jesus Christ as your King? Whose side are you really on?

Why limp and go on limping between two opinions? Here's the line in the sand, right where you're seated. If you know enough of the gospel, you can decide, by the grace of God, claim Christ right now as your Lord and Savior, the King of your castle.

Stephen Davey called this message, Drawing a Line in the Sand. Wisdom for the Heart is produced by Wisdom International. We have a team of people who would like to pray for you. Do you have a need or request? We pray for each request we receive by name, and we'd be honored to pray for you. We have a special web page designed for this purpose. Visit forward slash prayer. On that page, you're going to find information about how you can pray more effectively for our ministry. You'll also find a form that you can use to send your prayer request to us whenever you have one. Once again, you'll find that page at forward slash prayer. Please visit there today. Thanks for being with us and join us next time to discover more wisdom for the heart. You
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-28 15:43:16 / 2023-08-28 15:51:32 / 8

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