Key Observation: The kingdom suffers the violence of a demonic world that has lost the war but continues to fight battles on its way to final, full defeat.
- Read Luke 11:14–28.
- If you had to boil the theme of this passage down to one sentence, what would it be?
- What is the overall message?
- What strikes you about how Jesus handled both his detractors and his supporters? How would you characterize his responses to each?
- Count the number of times the word “kingdom” is used in this passage. What do you learn from this passage about the kingdom of God?
Jesus clearly had power over demons. He approached them seriously but not fearfully. He seemed to understand how the mere presence of demons creates confusion. This is a spiritual principle worth remembering: demons create confusion. Since they don’t deal in the whole truth, they tend to bring fear, anxiety, and confusion into any situation they enter. If you’re in a situation that seems to get more tangled and confused as it goes, suspect it. Chances are, the Enemy is not far away.
Take the example of the story we’ve just read. Jesus cast out a demon, and immediately those who didn’t understand such things began to generate rumors and falsehoods. “If he can talk to demons, then maybe he is one!” Jesus responded by teaching them how things work in the kingdom of God. This was in keeping with Jesus’ overarching mission. Jesus never moved far from the topic of the kingdom of God. He was always trying to get us to see it, grasp it, and embrace it. It is like a seed, like soil, like leaven, like something valuable buried in a field. Something ordinary, sometimes hidden, that possesses an unexpected strength.
That unexpected strength is constantly in tension with the anti-kingdom. This, we have already said, is where Luke 9 intersects with the holiness code of Leviticus. After the Israelites were set free from slavery in Egypt, the Lord established a code of life among them that reflected his holy design. That code required that they constantly root out and destroy signs of Egypt, signs of death, and signs of the anti-kingdom. Luke 9 takes up that same task as Jesus sent his followers out with power and authority to cast out demons, cure diseases, proclaim the kingdom, and heal the sick. He says, in effect, “Wherever you see them—demons, disease, sickness—you cast out death and proclaim life over my people.”
All this is to say that the kingdom of God is constantly at war with the kingdom of darkness. In the book of Matthew, Jesus used a word that reveals this characteristic of the kingdom. He said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12 ESV). Another version phrases it this way: “The Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it” (NLT).
The Greek word used here is biazetai. Depending on how you use it in a sentence, it can have either of the meanings previously noted (“suffered violence” or “forcefully advancing”), though they are markedly different.
So which is it?
Is the kingdom of God suffering passively, enduring the violence of a nonbelieving world and overactive demons until the day when it finally conquers? Or is the kingdom of God actively, forcefully pushing through, refusing to take no for an answer and refusing to be laid aside by people who are surprised by the way it looks?
So is the kingdom of God suffering violence or forcefully advancing?
Some years ago I heard Timothy Tennent say the answer to this question is yes. The kingdom of heaven suffers the violence of people who don’t get who Jesus really is. The kingdom suffers the violence of laziness, the violence of unbelief, of hard hearts and broken hearts. The kingdom suffers the violence of the dark, of a kind of deafness to the sound of holiness. And the kingdom suffers the violence of a demonic world that has lost the war but continues to fight battles on its way to final, full defeat.
Yet the kingdom never quits coming. It never gives up, never gives in, never lets go, and never loses sight of the work.
Jesus himself said that when he is casting out demons by the power of God, then the kingdom of God has arrived (Luke 11:20)! Which means that when I see a demon leave someone’s being, I’m actually seeing the kingdom of God manifested on earth. When a demon is defeated through the power of prayer, we are experiencing the advancing kingdom. The kingdom of God is as close as our next victory over the darkness. This is huge! We can experience the coming kingdom!
Be encouraged, dear friends. The Enemy has lost the war, and if we will take authority as Jesus has given us permission to do, then the Enemy will also lose the battles he wages in your life and mine. In the bargain, we will begin to expose the kingdom of God, revealing God’s power on earth.
Listening to the Word
Take time to consider where you are in the mix of spiritual things and how connected you are to the cause of the kingdom. Are you bumping up against the powers and principalities of the dark world? Are there areas of darkness you can begin to take authority over in prayer? Make a prayer that reflects what is being revealed to you right now.
There’s no substitute for the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Maybe you’ve grown dissatisfied with the weak distractions offered both by our culture and, oftentimes, our churches. When it all sinks in, spirituality and ministry without the Holy Spirit is hollow.
Join Carolyn Moore in rediscovering the supernatural! With a biblical basis and practical application, you’ll learn how to work alongside the Spirit, and you’ll become watchful for the powerful in-breakings of God’s kingdom all around you.
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