daily biblical sermons

Christ came to destroy Satan's kingdom that we might turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, Third Week of the Year, January 27, 2020
2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10, Psalm 88, Mark 3:22-30


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27).



Jesus is casting out evil spirits which manifested his power from God to destroy the works of the devil and his kingdom and to release those who are bound in captivity to sin, Satan, guilt, and death, and rather build a kingdom of light, grace, holiness, and love. But when the Pharisees saw Jesus casting out demons and realized that he was leading the people to believe in him, they became jealous and wanted to discredit him, but they couldn’t deny that he had the power to cast out evil spirits, because everyone saw him doing it, so instead they cast aspersions on the source of his power by saying that he is in league with Beelzebul the prince of demons and by his power he casts out evil spirits.



But Jesus demonstrates the utter absurdity of this, for the very purpose of Jesus was to destroy Satan’s kingdom, so why would Satan want to help Jesus destroy his own kingdom by giving him supernatural power to expel demons and to attract people to faith in Jesus. This would be acting “directly against his [Satan’s] own interest” (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714). Satan is evil, but he isn’t stupid. If he were in league with Jesus, he would be making war against himself and strengthening Jesus, who is his bitter enemy.



In saying this, Jesus indicates that the source of his power is not Satan, but rather God, and that he also came into the world to destroy the kingdom of darkness and sin, which is Satan’s kingdom. So here we see the conflict between the two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and Jesus’ work is precisely to damage and gradually destroy Satan’s kingdom in order to liberate human beings who are enslaved to sin, guilt, and the devil.



We see in Jesus’ exorcisms that he is the fulfillment of the protoevangelium, the first glimmer of the gospel given in Genesis, that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Now, therefore, is the time of fulfillment, and the kingdom of God is present among us in Jesus, as he says, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). Indeed, in Jesus the kingdom of God is now finally here, for, as he said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21).



And what does this kingdom do when we put our faith in Jesus? It delivers, in addition to the Jews, the Gentiles also, for it has come “to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me,” as the risen Christ said to St. Paul when he appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:18) (Matthew Henry 1662-1714).



As Jesus cast out demons from people’s bodies, he also casts them out from their souls, for he is the one who binds Satan and plunders his house (Matthew Henry). What Jesus plunders is the people who were captured by Satan and corrupted in their sins. Jesus came to set them free from Satan’s clutches, and he does this by first binding Satan and then plundering his house, for “no one can enter a strong man’s house [Satan’s house] and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27). Jesus is the stronger man who binds the strong man (Satan) and plunders his house and sets us free.



How does Jesus do this? We all know the answer to this question. It is through his Paschal Mystery, his death and resurrection, for he “has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). Indeed, “the blood of Jesus his [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). St. Paul preached, “Through this man [Jesus Christ] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).



This is the ultimate freedom, freedom from sin that cripples our spirit and depresses us so that we walk in darkness, not in light, and are unable to cast off the darkness in our minds and hearts and see the joy of the light of day and the light of God.



Who can cure us of this darkness of guilt and depression caused by our sins? Some take antidepressant pills, others overindulge in alcohol or drugs, still others distract themselves by further even worse sins, but all to no avail, for soon after the drugs or alcohol or other sins wear off, one is worse than he was before. Who can free us from this depressing situation, only the one that God has sent to us for this purpose, namely his only Son Jesus Christ.



And how does Jesus do this? By his Paschal Mystery, that is, by his atoning death on the cross for our sins, through our faith in him. The apostles proclaimed this good news (the core of the gospel), saying, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things” (Acts 5:30-31).



St. Peter proclaimed to the Gentiles in Cornelius’s house, “To him [the risen Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name [that is, through his power]” (Acts 10:43). This applies to Gentiles as well as Jews, as St. Peter later explained to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem how God saved the Gentiles in Cornelius’s house, “He [God] made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], but cleansed their hearts by faith … But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:9, 11).



Jesus then mentions the eternal sin that cannot be forgiven, because the Pharisees were blaspheming the Holy Spirit by saying that Jesus is in league with Satan who gives him the power to cast out evil spirits. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and “‘Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’ – for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit’” (Mark 3:29-30). If we reject Christ and the Holy Spirit that empowers him to forgive sins, how can we have our sins forgiven, for there is no other way to receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life except through trusting faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of him as our Savior sent to us by God? If you reject him and blaspheme the Holy Spirit that is working in him to forgive your sins, where else can you turn to receive relief from the guilt of your sins? As long as you stay in this state of rejection, there is no hope for your salvation, for this is the one remedy. May we not die in this state of rejection of Christ!



This also brings up the topic of eternal punishment, because this is an eternal sin that does not have any forgiveness. How many people deny the existence of hell today? How many say that no one goes to hell, because God is merciful, and how can a loving God send people to hell forever? Even some of our highest Church leaders are now saying that there is no such thing as everlasting punishment, for – as they falsely say – that’s not the logic of the gospel. See how far some of our highest Church leaders have gone astray from the clear biblical revelation of eternal punishment in hell for those that reject Christ!



Well over a hundred years ago JC Ryle wrote something about this that sounds like it was written today, “In these latter days … teachers have risen up, who are openly attacking the doctrine of the eternity of punishment, or laboring hard to explain it away. Men’s ears are being tickled with plausible sayings about ‘the love of God,’ and the impossibility of a loving God permitting an everlasting hell. The eternity of punishment is spoken of as a mere ‘speculative question,’ about which men may believe anything they please. In the midst of all this flood of false doctrine, let us hold firmly to the old truth. Let us not be ashamed to believe that there is an eternal God – an eternal heaven – and an eternal hell … Above all, let us fall back on plain scriptural statements, like that before us on this day. One plain text is worth a thousand abstruse arguments” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900, emphasis in the original).



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