Plundered by the Stronger One

Sermon for Oculi based on Luke 11:14-28

Dear temple of the Holy Spirit: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The world is mad. It calls good evil and evil good. Jesus’ wonderful works are thus attributed to the devil, saying that He casts out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons.

This is not the only accusation Jesus suffered. He was accused of being out of His mind by His own family (Mark 3:21). He was accused of being a Sabbath-breaker (John 5:18), of leading the people astray (John 7:12), of having a demon (John 7:20), of being a liar (John 8:13), of being a sinner (John 9:24), of being insane (John 10:20), of being a blasphemer (John 10:33), and an evildoer (John 18:30).

Jesus shows how all these accusations, and especially the accusation that He is in league with Satan, are completely false. “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided house falls. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?”

It is Satan who leads people astray. He is the liar, blasphemer, and evildoer. It is the devil who seeks to harm us and hurt us, as he hurt the poor man by making him mute. If Jesus was doing miraculous signs by the power of Satan, He would be doing the same things as Satan.

Yet Jesus shows He does everything exactly the opposite of Satan. Where Satan sends a demon to cause muteness, Jesus casts out the demon and loosens the man’s tongue. Where Satan causes suffering, temptation, and affliction, Jesus comforts, heals, and strengthens. Where the devil accuses, Jesus forgives.

Satan is the strong man. We are the goods that he guards, fully armed. The stronger one who attacks him and takes his spoil is Jesus. Jesus takes his armour away in which he trusts and saves us from captivity.

What is this armour in which Satan trusts? It is none other than the Law of God. He trusts that all mankind will belong to him eternally because the Law of God accuses us of every vile sin and wickedness. He thinks this armour is impenetrable because we are all guilty.

Satan saw firsthand what happens to lawbreakers. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, and though they were created to live forever, they died. The devil had seen God destroy the world with a flood. He had seen God rain fire and brimstone on the sexually immoral in Sodom and Gomorrah, send plagues on the Egyptians, and even overthrow His own people in the wilderness for their grumbling. He thought he had us as his prey, safe behind the armour of God’s Law which he trusted would make us all his.

But the stronger one came and attacked him and took away his armour in which he trusted. Jesus took away the accusations of the Law by being found guilty Himself. He doesn’t come to us in wrath and fury, but in mercy and forgiveness. The Law which Satan thought would condemn us all, instead condemned Jesus – the righteous dying for the unrighteous. The devil cannot hold us captive in our sin since Jesus has forgiven our sin. Jesus defeated Satan with love and mercy shown to us, and He has plundered us from the devil’s house. Demons are cast out and mute men speak.

Then follows a warning. There are no neutral parties. You are either with Jesus or you are with the devil. Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Whoever is indifferent or tries to be neutral will belong to Satan. Man is pictured as a house that needs an occupant. If the Spirit of God does not fill you, Satan will return with an even greater force. Jesus says, “When an 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.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 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.”

The Word of God teaches us that we are all conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims us as His own (From the rite of Holy Baptism, LSB p. 268). Therefore Christ instituted Baptism to claim us as His own, to make us His disciples, and to give us the Holy Spirit. There is no neutrality. In Baptism, Christ snatches us from the devil and makes us His own.

One who forsakes his Baptism, walks away from God’s Word, and thinks he is going to be neutral will be found by the demons to be a house swept and put in order, and without an occupant. Even more evil demons will come to roost and the last state of that person is worse than the first.

The same could be said of churches, families, even our country. Either God fills them, or Satan fills them. As church attendance in the western world drops off, Christianity is not leaving a void, because that void is being filled by the devil with his religions. This is why every doctrine that is false must be held as demonic and from Satan, even if it is a Christian that has been misled by the false teaching. There is no neutrality in spiritual matters.

For this reason, God gives us His Holy Spirit in Baptism to occupy us. We are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in us. He grants us faith. He works repentance in us so that we turn away from sin. He creates good works in us. He renews our spirit, will, attitude, and desires so that we strive to overcome sin and do good works.

The Holy Spirit fills our hearts so that there is no room for the devil or his demon hordes. The Spirit fights against every demonic attack and keeps us with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.