“But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’ And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.’” — Matthew 12:24–28 (NASB95)
If the message of the kingdom of God is as simple as “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,” what makes it so difficult and convoluted at times? These verses give us that answer. Here, Jesus had been preaching the good news of the kingdom, healing the sick, and setting free the demon-possessed. Amazingly wonderful kingdom-of-heaven activity was going on for everyone to see. But then came the religious leaders. Men armed with the forces of this world’s kingdom. What was their message? “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of demons.” They purposefully mixed the activities of the two kingdoms and accused Jesus of using wicked powers to do his work. As soon as the accusation was out there, Satan was able to use doubt as a tool to create confusion and destroy the original message. Remember, Satan is a liar and a deceiver. He “comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Satan couldn’t stand that Jesus was doing these wonderful kingdom works and that many were beginning to believe in Jesus. So what did he do? He created doubt by twisting the message.
Satan does the same thing today. He twists and distorts the words and actions of Christian people and organizations so much that people begin to question their intent. Most people in our society are skeptical of Christians. Isn’t that strange, when all we intend to do is to love God and our neighbor? Satan can’t stand when the heavenly kingdom touches the earthly kingdom and starts to have a positive impact. So he twists and lies until he can create doubt in people’s minds and hearts.
What can we do when this begins to happen? We must learn to follow Jesus’ example. He met the lie head-on. He said, “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself.” Jesus was exposing the liars’ lie. He was telling the religious leaders, and the crowd of believers, that it didn’t make sense that Satan would do these wonderful works to set people free from what bound them. To do so would be an attack on his own kingdom. Jesus made clear again, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus masterfully exposed the lie and declared that His works were consistent with the work of God’s kingdom and the Holy Spirit.
As we seek to serve the kingdom of heaven, may we clearly expose the lies of Satan with the truth of God’s Word.