Devotional Thoughts for Today
Matt. 12:24-9 (ESV): “But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.’  Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.  And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.  But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
 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.’”
To someone who says, “There are no absolute truths; everything is relative,” ask him whether he holds to that absolutely. If he says yes, then say, “You’re inconsistent and arrogant; if he answers no, ask him, “Then, why do you oppose what I believe?”
Here, Jesus, likewise, shows the absurdity of an argument aimed to discredit him. The Pharisees, jealous that “the whole world has gone after [Jesus]” (Jn. 12:19), accuses him of being on the same team as the head of demons. Jesus’ logic is simple: “If the devil and I are partners, why am I casting out his demons? Isn’t that like shooting yourself in the foot?”
After silencing them, Jesus explains the spiritual world through this odd parable. The strong man is the devil, “the prince of this world” (Jn. 12:31); his house, then, is the world. The goods in the house are people in the world over whom the devil “holds the power of death” (Heb. 2:14). How did this happen? When the devil was tempting Jesus, it wasn’t a lie when he said, “All the kingdoms of the world . . . [had] been given to me” (Lk. 4:5-6). The first man Adam, whom God had put in charge of governing the world, gave it away when he capitulated to the devil’s ploy, “for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Pet. 2:19). Since “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), the devil bullies the descendants of Adam with fear of death.
So Christ, coming into this world as an intruder to take back what was taken by the devil, must first bind the strong man. He succeeded when his substitutionary death on our behalf “rendered powerless [the devil] who had the power of death” (Heb. 2:14 NASB) since the penalty of sin has been paid.
Now, Christ through the church is plundering the house, meaning telling people that they are now free. But many choose not to believe that; as a result, they continue to live in “slavery by their fear of death.” Are you one of them? Christ has already finished everything to free you; all you need to do is believe.
I praise You, Jesus, for coming into this world that had rebelled against God and chose the devil as its god. Seeing that we are miserable in our sins, You voluntarily took the penalty of our sins to destroy the work of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8), thereby freeing us. Thank You, Jesus, for your love, kindness and grace. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 48
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Jn. 5:18 (NIV): “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”
James 4:7 (NASB): “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Acts 16:16-8 (ESV): “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.  She followed Paul and us, crying out, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.’  And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.”
Question to Consider
- What are some benefits of Christ’s victory over the devil?
- Is there a part that we need contribute in order to experience Christ’s victory over the devil?
- The Bible talks about not giving the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:27). What are some casual habits or “harmless” sins in our lives that give the enemy a bigger hold to latch on to enslave us?
- The devil cannot harm those who are in Christ; he will even flee from us; he can be driven out from someone or even from us in the name of Jesus.
- We cannot continue to sin (habitual and unrepentant sins); we must resist the devil for him to flee; we must pray with the authority of Jesus by praying in His name.
- Sin is much like a snowball rolling downhill: it gets bigger and bigger unless it is stopped. An attempt to cover a little lie produces more lies; watching soft-porn leads to hard-porn; unforgiveness, in time, turns into a bitter personality; hoarding money always turns into loving it.
As you review this day, did you face any situation where you felt uncomfortable because of the presence of some people? Why do you think that happened? The path to freedom in many cases is honesty and humility. Pray to the Lord for wisdom and courage to live fully in the freedom that Christ has won for us.