In parts one (part 1), two (part 2), and three (part 3) of this series on spiritual warfare I have been using Luke 11 to show the wide-ranging ways in which our churches are regularly encountering demonic attack. Though Luke 11 does not say everything that could be said about the demonic, we have seen that it is a very helpful summary of the strategies of the kingdom of Satan. This blog will finish my application of Luke 11.
The victory of Christ over demons is real and every believer has access to this same victory
Believers have such amazing resources in Christ that we need not fear the demonic. We have everything we need to daily experience victory against their attacks. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."
In the same way, while Luke 11 does acknowledge the power of Satan, it emphasizes the even greater power of Christ. Christ is the "stronger" man in verse 22 who has overcome Satan through His death and resurrection. Christ is the one who has taken away Satan’s "armor in which he trusted." When we use the sword of the Spirit, Satan is wounded. Why? Because His armor has been taken away by Christ. That’s why James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Christ is presently plundering Satan’s kingdom through you and through me, and He is dividing the spoils. So I want to examine why this casting out of demons is such a powerful evidence of Christ’s ongoing victory.
Casting out demons is an evidence that the kingdom has come
This was a new thing (vv. 14-15,19 with 10:17-24)
First of all, it was an evidence that the kingdom had come, and something brand new was happening. In the Gospels, for the first time in human history (at least that we know about), demons had been successfully cast out of people. Now we take this power for granted nowadays, but it was a miracle back then. And the reaction of the people over and over was the same as in verse 14: "and the multitudes marveled." Or as Mark says, “they were astonished beyond measure.” This was something new.
This was a sign of the presence of the kingdom (vv. 16-20)
And that is why their request in verse 16 is such a sham. It says, "And others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven." Christ goes on to show how there could be no better sign that the kingdom of God had come: "But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you" (v. 20). Matthew 12:28 adds, "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you." The casting out of demons is the sign of the kingdom par excellence. Christ didn’t postpone the kingdom or we would not be able to cast out demons today.
This was evidence that the time had come for Satan’s house to fall (vv. 17-18)
But verses 17-18 indicate that the presence of genuine exorcisms was the evidence that the time had come for Satan’s house to fall. Matthew words it this way:
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you, or else how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
Matthew adds the words “Or else.” Those words are clear. Without the presence of the kingdom, there can be no casting out of demons. The ongoing work of binding the hand of Satan is proof positive that we are living in the period of the kingdom conquest. It is the time when Satan’s kingdom will progressively fall and be plundered.
Satan cannot be cast out until the Messiah overcomes Him (vv. 21-22 with 4:1-5 and Mark 16:15-20)
And the irony of it all is that Christians many times continue to believe that Satan is the one who is gaining the victory. They receive opposition from Satan much like Christ did in His ministry, and yet their conclusion is the opposite of Christ's. Their conclusion is that we are living in the last time and there is nothing we can do but wait for a champion. Like David’s brothers they are frustrated with the taunts of Goliath. But what we need to realize is that the Greater than David has already come. He has dealt a death blow to the head of the serpent, has bound the power of the strong man, and we are now plundering Satan’s house.
How should we exercise this victory over darkness?
But how should we exercise this authority and victory that we have in Christ? Though we are not perfect like Jesus, I believe Jesus was modeling for us how to handle the powers of darkness.
We should pray for the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 9,13)
First of all, we should pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus Himself "cast out demons by the Spirit of God" (Matt. 12:28), we must have the power of the Holy Spirit to be able to do so. This whole section in Luke 11 is prefaced by a call to ask, seek, and knock at heaven's doors for our needs (v. 9) and to pray for the Holy Spirit (v. 13). The fullness of the Holy Spirit is not simply a blessing that super-saints have access to. Jesus promised that just as human fathers are quite willing to give food and gifts to their children (vv. 11-13), "how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (v. 13). The daily filling of the Holy Spirit is a heritage of every believer in the New Covenant (Eph. 5:18). And the filling of the Holy Spirit is an absolutely necessary prerequisite to success in spiritual warfare.
We should trust that Christ is stronger than Satan (vv. 14,23)
Secondly, you need to have faith that Christ is stronger than Satan. Now you may feel so weak and helpless that you know you can’t resist Satan. That is a good place to be in because it makes us look to Jesus for strength, not to ourselves. Christ said, "without Me you can do nothing." On the other hand, the Bible just as clearly says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." When you are ready to throw in the towel and call it quits, you are denying that Christ really is stronger than Satan in your life. Satan will seek to bluster and intimidate you like Goliath did Israel. But this passage says that Satan’s power has been bound. And we need to be convinced of that.
Jesu Das is an evangelist in India. Let me relate a story that happened to him back in 1994. When he arrived at one village, he was horrified by the incredible demonism being manifested there. The priests were able to kill cattle, dogs, and people with the spells that they cast. People greatly feared the demonic. There were no believers in that area, so he started preaching in the marketplace. When many people began coming to the Lord, the priests became outraged and warned him that if he did not leave the village they would call on their gods to kill him, his wife and their children. But Jesu Das did not leave. Instead, he claimed Christ’s power for spiritual warfare. And in a short period of time the witch doctors came to him asking him the source of his secret power. When he asked them what they meant, they said,
This is the first time that our power did not work. After doing the pujas, we asked the spirits to go and kill your family. But the spirits came back and told us they could not approach you or your family because you were always surrounded by fire. Then we called more powerful spirits to come after you- but they too returned, saying not only were you surrounded by fire, but angels were also around you all the time.
As Jesu Das preached to them of the grace and power of Christ, these priests were convicted of their sins, repented with tears, renounced their gods and became Christians. As a result, hundreds of villagers followed suit. This evangelist could have been intimidated by the Goliaths who were taunting his God. But he wasn't.
Others have experienced Christ’s grace and power in the midst of beatings and sufferings. But they too experienced the reality of being more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. As Revelation 12:11 words it, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."
We must dedicate ourselves unreservedly to Jesus (v. 23)
That last verse calls all believers to dedicate themselves unreservedly to Jesus and to not love their lives more than they love Jesus. Verse 23 says, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters." If you are not out-and-out for the Lord you are fair game for Satan’s attacks. It might be thought that there is safety in retreat. That’s wrong. There is safety only in following our Captain. The only true safety comes in giving up your life and everything else and seeking to live out and out for Christ.
We must guard our relationship with Christ and with others. Oppose Satan's attempts to conquer by dividing us. If you have a broken relationship with anyone in God's kingdom, get it straightened out (v. 17)
Another essential for spiritual warfare is staying reconciled in our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. Verse 17 says, "But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls." Notice that Jesus said "every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation..." The phrase "every kingdom" includes Christ's kingdom. It includes the sub-kingdoms of nations, churches, and families. We cannot succeed in spiritual warfare as long as we continue to bite and devour each other within the kingdom.
When husband is divided against wife, 1 Peter 3:7 says that you need to get reconciled so "that your prayers may not be hindered." 2 Corinthians 2:11 says that we must forgive brothers who ask forgiveness "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." Ephesians 4:26 warns us not to let the sun go down on our anger, lest we "give an opportunity to the devil." Guard your relationships. When you are out of relationship with the brethren, the kingdom is divided and will not have the same protection against Satan’s attacks. The primary reason is that Jesus does not bless those who attack His bride.
Pursue a personal walk of holiness (v. 24)
Next, we must guard our personal walk of holiness. Verse 24 says, "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest." What is that rest that he is seeking? One version translates that as a place of rest. Another as a place to stay. He is looking for an opportunity to gain a foothold in someone’s life. And even believers can give a foothold to Satan. The word “foothold” is used in Ephesians 4:27: "nor give place to the devil."
If we do not come for cleansing from Christ on a regular basis, our bold sins can give Satan an opportunity to find a resting place in our lives. That’s why Christ says in verse 28, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" Holiness is an essential qualification for spiritual warfare. And by holiness, I mean "direction, not perfection" (as Kevin Swanson is wont to say). If you have repented of your sins and sought cleansing in the blood of Christ, there is no ground that Satan can claim because you have turned around and are heading in the right direction again - the direction of holiness, or conformity to the image of Jesus.
Don't trust in self-reformation (v. 25)
But don’t ever think that your own power will amount to anything. We are talking about Jesus living His life and His power through you. Sanctification is totally different from self-reformation. Verse 25 describes the powerlessness of self-reformation. "And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order."
Pagans can clean up their lives. They do it all the time through groups like AA. They can quit getting drunk, take seminars to improve their communication, learn to control their tempers, and yet do it purely from selfish interests and apart from God’s grace. Paul speaks of such as "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim. 3:5). That kind of self-righteousness does not protect from Satan. It is walking close to God that makes Satan tremble.
Remind yourself that only Christ’s resources are sufficient (vv 14-23) and only the Spirit’s empowerment can protect (vv. 9-13)
When I was a child I was scared to death of a neighborhood bully. But one day I walked past this bully hand-in-hand with my father, and I suddenly lost all fear. I had no illusion about my own weakness. Even if he worked out with weights for a week, I wasn’t going to face that bully alone. But when Dad was walking hand-in-hand with me I was fearless.
The same is true of our walk with God. It is only in a walk with God that we have power and can have boldness. Only Christ’s resources are sufficient. This passage is not about how wonderful and strong we are. It is about how wonderful and powerful Christ is, and as verse 23 words it, whether or not we are with Him or against Him. If we are with Him, and if we are claiming the Spirit’s empowerment that verses 9-13 talk about, then we can continue to plunder Satan’s kingdom.
Don't get me wrong - demons can still be strong. They can still cause great trouble inside and outside the church. But praise God, the kingdom has come, Christ’s death has bound the power of the enemy, and Christ has given every believer the power necessary to push back the forces of Satan.
Luke 10:17-20 says,
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
That is the ultimate victory – salvation. And those are the ultimate spoils from Satan’s kingdom – souls snatched from the fire. In our victorious plundering of Satan's kingdom, we want to not only win souls but also capture demonic palaces and all the goods in those palaces. Every thought must be taken captive to king Jesus. Every area of life must be brought to serve King Jesus. Politics, medicine, legal services and business must all be given to our King until all things are placed under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25).
Related Scriptures on the victory of Jesus over the demonic:
But I want to end this blog series by giving a summary of the total victory we can expect because of the further work that Jesus did in His cross and resurrection. What is hinted at in Luke 11 is more fully developed in the rest of the New Testament. Scripture affirms the following facts about Satan's defeat:
- He is "bound" by the cross (Mark 3:27; Luke 11:20; Rev. 20)
- His power is restricted and restrained (2 Thes. 2:6f)
- He has been rendered "powerless over believers" (Heb. 2:14)
- He is defeated, disarmed, and spoiled (Col 2:15; Rev. 12:7ff; Mark 3:27)
- He has "fallen" and was "thrown down" (Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:9)
- His kingdom has been replaced by God's (Dan. 7; Luke 11:20)
- He was "crushed" under the foot of the early church (Rom. 16:20)
- He has lost "authority" over Christians (Col 1:13)
- His works have been destroyed (1 John 3:8)
- He must "flee" when "resisted" (James 4:7)
- His demonic hordes are subject to the authority of Christians (Matt. 10-12; Mark 1:27; 6:7; Luke 9:1; 10:19; 1 John 4:4; Jude 4:4; Jude 6; Rev. 12:9; etc.)
- Sometime during history but after Christ's death (Zech 13:1,6-9), demons will be cleansed entirely from the land.
- Even at the end of time when they are released for a short time, it will only be to demonstrate their ultimate destruction away from God's people and the presence of His majesty (Rev. 20:7-10).
With the wonderful encouragements of these verses, I would encourage all of us to plunder Satan's kingdom and give all glory to Christ. A Puritan book that will help give you detailed guidance in your spiritual warfare is William Gurnall, The Christian In Complete Armour .