The Subtlety of Satan

But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 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.” Luke 11:20-26

The Lord Jesus was together with His disciples before this event took place. He knew what lay ahead of them, a battle, and that is why He went to God first in prayer. Often a person grows when faced with battles. One can ask why does this happen to me, but most of the time there is a blessing ahead, which is the reason for the battle. When there is something that God wants to do, there is a battle. The Lord knew what was lying ahead. He knew there were people who would go against what He was going to do.

Someone once said that you can measure your spiritual life by your prayer life. Look at your prayer life. If you are close to the Lord, you talk to Him more often. The Lord has taught us to pray constantly. That does not mean that you sit and pray all the time but constant prayer helps you to look to the Lord and not at your own weaknesses and shortcomings. When I go to town, I know what can lie ahead. So when I stop the car to get out, it is not just, ‘Thank you Lord. Amen.’ But rather it is a prayer from the heart and I ask the Lord to be with me and protect me. It is not a glib, shallow prayer. When you begin doing this you will see how many things will change in your life. We can often make our biggest mistakes with our tongues if we do not ask the Lord and acknowledge the Lord in what we say. What is your prayer life like? Is it a burden? Do you rattle it off to get it over with quickly? Prayer is when you wrestle with the Lord. When your prayer life stops, other things enter.

Look at what God has taught us? Do I still do it? Do I do it because I have to or because I’m forced to? This is not a relationship with the Lord. Maybe this is why the Lord turns on the pressure, “My child have you forgotten?” That’s why things happen in our lives and our natural reaction is to go against the very thing God is trying to teach us.

The Bible says rejoice in everything, even when there are difficulties. Maybe you have a grudge against someone and you blame things on that person but the Lord allows these things so that they will draw us to Him. Nothing gets to us if it does not pass our Lord. Nothing will happen to us if the Lord does not allow it.

In this text, the Lord teaches His disciples a few things and then the Lord drives a demon out of a person. Demons must go when the Lord comes. The multitudes marveled. But – there are always those who but- there were those who suddenly questioned what the Lord was doing. Suddenly, they were not one anymore. They said, “How can this happen. How?” It is frightening how far a person can go in what he says. Maybe it is the same with us. The Lord works and says things through His servant and you criticise and find fault. There is a man who has given his life and through whom God has worked in your life. Suddenly, however, things do not look the same anymore through your eyes. Maybe you do not criticise him but you criticise what he does and those around him.

I know what it was like when the Lord worked in our lives. We know what we experienced and how we gave our lives to the Lord, but now possibly, because of one question, things are no longer the same. You had a love that was prepared to give everything but today you speak about love but your eyes are not what they used to be. Something has touched your vision. You see things differently. Today, you even have the courage to question what God is doing.

Allow me to read an extract from a daily devotional:

Let me no wrong or idle word unthinking say; set Thou a seal upon my lips-just for today.

Keep still! When trouble is brewing, keep still! When slander is getting on its legs, keep still! When your feelings are hurt, keep still till you recover from your excitement at any rate! Things look different through an unagitated eye.

In a commotion once I wrote a letter and sent it, and wished I had not. In my later years I had another commotion and wrote another long letter; my life had rubbed a little sense into me, and I kept that letter in my pocket until I could look over it without agitation, and without tears, and I was glad I did – less and less it seemed necessary to send it. I was not sure it would do any harm, but in my doubtfulness I learned reticence, and eventually it was destroyed.

Time works wonders! Wait till you can speak calmly and then perhaps you will not need to speak. (Hannah Whitall Smith, Springs in the Valley, LB Cowman)

These people in our text just spoke and said He (Jesus) drives out demons because of the power of the devil. You can stoop this low when you react to things you don’t know. You don’t hear it from the source, you hear it via others and details are changed along the way but you accept this as the truth. Keep still. Pray. Friends, I want to learn that and do that. This lady, Hannah Smith, said she ripped up the letter. She found it unnecessary because she saw things the way the Lord saw them.

The Lord said that if a kingdom is divided it will not stand. No kingdom on earth can stand if it is divided. The Lord said that He did what He did by the finger of God. It’s interesting that He said this – it shows how great God is. He did the impossible by just using His finger.

It is dangerous to twist things around and the worst is that you think you are right when you are possibly wrong. The Lord says if someone comes who is stronger, he will defeat that person and destroy everything inside. This is what you experience when the Lord comes into your life: the Lord drives out these things in your life. Read this word and remind yourself – take the Word of God as it is. The Lord is powerful and He will destroy the powers of darkness. He is stronger than any evil that exists and He will drive out that power.

Maybe the Lord is in your life and He works. Remember, the devil is a roaring lion who will try his best to destroy that which is in your life, especially when he has been driven out of his palace. He will attack you in many different ways because he wants to get back that which was his.

The topic of Absalom is related to this word: Absalom was the son of David. He was a handsome young man and there was no one like him. When we read about what happened to him, we can see how the devil works and how he can get hold of us. Absalom had long hair which when it was cut, weighed about 2.2kg. Imagine that weight on his head! He liked it, his hair was important to him. The girls may have been jealous of his hair, others may have wanted to imitate him. Hair plays a major role in people’s lives, that’s why the Bible mentions it. His hair caused his death. Maybe your hair reveals who you are. Maybe you are as muddled as your hairstyle.

No one knows what went on in Absalom’s heart, but we get a glimpse from what took place: He had a grudge against his brother and he killed him. It was an evil thing but it gives you a glimpse of what he was like. This is exactly how the devil attacks a person. In 2 Sam 15:2-6

And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

The devil knows where your weak points are and in what manner to approach you. He knows how to strike you early – a child, a time of the day, at an event – he knows how to get at you. The devil is so quick to come and enlighten you. He knows what you like and what you want. He is not like us who are lazy, slack and negligent. He is wide awake. He knows that if he strikes early, he will have a chance.

Absalom knew what to do, he just posed a question. “Where do you come from? Can I be of help?” He knew what the men had come for. The devil knows when you are in church and that God wants to speak to you. He strikes while you are seated – you think, “It’s him again!” and switch off. He strikes you before you even know it.

Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.”

“There’s no one who has a feeling for you.” “There is no one who understands what you feel like.” “They don’t know what you are experiencing.” “You know, you are right, your case is good.” “You’re doing the right thing.” “He doesn’t love you. You’ve got a good case.”

Days are not the same. Some days we are loved and on other days we are punished. Your heart response is: “I am right. I’ve got a good case.” The devil suggests who you can approach to have your case heard. This is how the devil works. “I cannot go to so and so because he does not understand me.”

Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” The devil feeds your ears, mind and heart with what you think is right. The devil will come and say you are right. Why are you worrying? That’s why you select to go to a specific person. If you find yourself in this situation be careful that you do not lose what you have and what God has given you?

And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. It is heartbreaking when things end with the kiss of Judas.

When a boy flirts with a girl he talks about all her good points. He will say that other people don’t see but I see your beauty. If you stay with me you’ll get everything you need. It might be easy but at the end he will give you a kick. Are you allowing him to kiss you? Things will go wrong with you. This is how the devil robs your life. The devil tells you that ‘they don’t greet you, they don’t love you, they don’t understand you’. Woe to me if I have the heart of Absalom, if I know the truth but I deceive the young ones.
May the Lord help me that I won’t have the heart of Absalom who stole the souls of the people.

If the Lord is master of the house, He will protect that house. In the end, that which I am not willing to give up, what I think I am and that which I hold in high esteem, will be my downfall.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 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.” Luke 11:20-26

He finds rest in the souls of man. It is a false peace. We can go in and out of a service with a false peace.

Sometimes you do things because you feel you are forced to. You feel forced to make your life right. You feel you must do it, but not because the Lord is compelling you. The law pushes you. Your own ways. The house was swept and clean but the devil said it was his place. There was nothing of Christ in the house. Christ Himself was not there. Nothing that belonged to Christ was there. No wonder the devil said that it was his. You sing, you go to church, you pray but the danger is that the house is empty. You may have not given your life over to Christ totally. You withhold things in your life.

Maybe you have lived the life of a prostitute and then you came here. Something happened in your life and you thought that it was right and that was what you wanted. But over time, one notices that the outside is just the same as it used to be. There are still old things. If Jesus comes in, everything changes, both the outside and inside – the way you walk, the way you dress. Your eyes are possibly still the eyes of a prostitute. The way you look at yourself and the way you do things is the same as it was before.

You swept the house. You swept out the dirt. It is easy to sweep out the dirt but has your house been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Maybe you experienced something and you got started but you forgot to get rid of the furniture, of everything of the old life. There are things in your life that have been there for many years and that should have been brought to the light long ago. Maybe you began confessing your sins but now you have got to a point where you go against confession of sin. That which was precious you suddenly despise and argue against. Maybe your life has been one of paint and varnish. You have covered things. You need to clean out everything – even the things that are stuck on the base of the pot. Those things you need to scrape out of the pot. Do you understand why it is repeated that we should not hide things? Sweeping takes off the loose dirt but the cherished sin is untouched. Why do you fall into the same sin again and again? The devil sees this. When the Lord Jesus comes, He washes, purifies, cleanses, makes holy and sanctifies. He brings His furniture into the house.

Compromise. Are we prepared to deal with this? Compromise means cooperation with the devil. When we close an eye and we don’t bring things to the light, we become powerless. There is peaceful stagnation. Have you compromised? Have you listened to Absalom, the devil, when he says, ‘You don’t have to do it that way? You don’t have to be so serious! You don’t have to be that fanatical. You don’t love that person – you just visit him, not because you love him. You are right!’ The devil works with people in the same way that Absalom did. Eventually you cannot differentiate anymore, there are no lines, everything is blurred.

It is a matter of life and death when the house is furnished. You cannot put new furniture in if the old is still there. Bow, no matter the cost. Let the Lord’s gifts and graces abound in your life.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 1 Cor 13:13

Let these things abide and grow in your life.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

When the devil sees a house like this, he cannot enter. There is no space. He will have to flee. May our lives be like this – that we furnish it and allow the Lord to do a complete work.