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—FEBRUARY 8.—LUKE 11:14-26,33-36.—
HOWEVER much the worldly-wise may scoff at the Bible teaching that there is a personal Devil, and that he is a prince over a demon host of spirit beings—rebels against God's government—let us always remember that this is the teaching of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The difficulty with the worldly-wise is that their good reasoning faculties are not guided by the Word of God. They say it is difficult enough to believe in a God and an angelic host, His servants, spirit beings and invisible to men. Much more difficult is it—yea, to them unreasonable—to believe in another spirit ruler and another spirit host, the adversaries of God. They reason that it would not be thinkable that God would create beings opposed to Himself; or that if, created holy, they became the adversaries of righteousness, an all-powerful Creator would not destroy them, but permit them to continue their evil opposition.
The Bible explains that Satan was the first transgressor, [R5378 : page 10] in that previously he was a cherub, an angel of superior rank and nature, who lost his loyalty to God through pride and ambition; and that he seduced into disobedience those whom the Bible now designates a demon host. Everywhere the Scriptures set forth that this host of spirit beings are associated with our earth, and not in some far-off fiery furnace torturing the human dead.
The Bible indicates that God does not lack the power to deal with these rebels, but that He is permitting them for a time, allowing them to manifest the fruitage of sin, anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife—as a lesson for angels and men. They are under certain limitations which the Apostle styles "chains of darkness." They have not been permitted to materialize as men since the Deluge. But they have sought intercourse with humanity; and in proportion to their success their victims are said to be obsessed by evil spirits. When the victory is complete, the victim is said to be possessed of a demon and insane.
It is estimated that fully one-half of those in insane asylums are demon-possessed—the demons belonging to the very class so frequently mentioned in connection with our Lord's ministry. As in the past, intercourse was sought through witches, wizards, necromancers, etc., so today, intercourse with humanity is sought through ouija boards, planchettes, and spirit mediums. Humanity, deceived by the doctrines of these demons inculcated in the Dark Ages (1 Timothy 4:1), has neglected God's testimony in the Bible to the effect that the dead are asleep, and "know not anything." (Ecclesiastes 9:5.) "Their thoughts perish," until their awakening in the morning of the New Dispensation, otherwise styled "the Day of Christ"—"the Times of Restitution"—the Millennial Day. (Philippians 1:10; Acts 3:21.) Today's Study introduces the Master delivering a man from demon possession. The people rightly understood what was the difficulty; but, being opposed to the Master, some of them evilly declared that the demons obeyed Jesus because He Himself was Satan, Beelzebub, the Prince of devils. Others said: Your miracles are all earthly; show us some sign from Heaven.
Jesus answered the accusation that He was the Prince of demons rather than the Prince of Light by showing that for Satan to cast out his own hosts would signify a warfare in the camp of the evil ones, which would imply that Satan's house was divided and that it would soon fall. It would be foolish, therefore, for Satan to cast out Satan; consequently such an argument should have no weight. But, said Jesus, other Jews have exercised this same power of casting out devils, and you never charged these with being the Prince of demons. And how could there be several princes of demons? Judge according to this whether your argument against Me is good. But, on the contrary, to those of you who realize the truth that I am casting out demons by the "finger" of God, the power of God, there will be no doubt that this power, which I possess more than others, and which I have exercised through My Apostles also, is an evidence of special favor from God and a corroboration of My testimony that God's Kingdom is near you—that the power of that Kingdom is being exercised in your midst.
But, as a matter of fact, when that nation rejected Christ, the Kingdom which God offered them was taken away from them. The offer was discontinued. They were turned aside for a time from God's favor, while the Message of Grace and Truth has since been gathering another Israel—drawing first of all from the Jews such as were Israelites indeed; and later, going hither and thither, it has gathered for this same class saintly ones out of every nation.
The power of Jesus in casting out demons showed that He was thoroughly competent to deal with the Prince of this world, the Prince of Darkness, Satan; and that, had the Kingdom been set up at that time, Satan and his angels would have been bound or restrained then. However, in view of the foreknown and foretold rejection of Jesus and the Kingdom, the work of binding Satan did not progress, but delayed until the Second Coming of Jesus. Then, His Bride class having meantime been selected to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom, He will take His great power and reign. At that time He will deal with Satan and his subordinate demons; yea, with all that have cultivated sin and the spirit of Satan, which has so seriously gotten hold of humanity under the conditions of the fall.
Our Lord tells that in the end of this Gospel Age Satan shall be bound for a thousand years (the thousand years of Messiah's glorious Reign), that he may deceive mankind no longer, as he has been deceiving and deluding them for six thousand years, putting darkness for light and misrepresenting the Heavenly Father as the worst being imaginable, plotting and predestinating thousands of millions to be born and to go to eternal torture.
Jesus pictures Satan's control of the world at the present time, likening him to a strong man armed and guarding his palace. He can maintain his control until a stronger comes, overcomes him and takes possession of his wrongly-acquired valuables. Thus Jesus foretold that His own Messianic Kingdom will be stronger than that of Satan, and will control it and bind him. The result will be the deliverance of mankind from the curse of sin and death which has rested upon the race for now six great Days of a thousand years each. Messiah's Kingdom will be in the great Seventh Day, or Sabbath, in which all who will accept the Savior may enter into rest.
Meantime Jesus, according to the Father's Plan, during this Gospel Age, through His own Message and the Message of the Apostles, has been gathering out of the world a Bride class, to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom. [R5378 : page 11] Satan is allowed considerable liberty in the testing of the loyalty of all these. There can be only the two masters. Knowingly or ignorantly, people are serving either the One or the other. As Jesus said, "He that is not with Me is against Me."
St. Paul declares that the Prince of this world (Satan) "now works in the hearts of the children of disobedience." Jesus took up this same thought, and likened the world to the poor demoniac whom He had released from Satan's grasp. Similarly, all who accept Christ are delivered from the power of Satan. Let not sin, therefore, have dominion in your mortal bodies.—Romans 6:12.
Jesus represents such hearts as swept and garnished—sins forgiven and grace of God received. But He declares that Satan will seek to regain control of such through the spirit of the world—pride, anger, malice, hatred, strife, works of the flesh and of the Devil. (Matthew 12:43-45.) "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith," writes the Apostle. (1 Peter 5:9.) If Satan be not resisted, the danger is that the light and the blessing received through the knowledge of God will become a curse and an injury; and that the result with such a person will be worse than before he came into relationship with Christ.
Jesus emphasized this, declaring that as a candle should not be put under a bushel and hidden, but should be exposed so as to do good, so also the light of the Truth, the grace of God received, must not be hidden, but must be let shine to the glory of God. Otherwise, the light would become extinguished and the darkness would prevail. The eye represents intelligence; and as long as we have the true enlightenment, or intelligence, the whole body is blessed thereby; but if the intelligence be destroyed, if the eye be blinded, the whole body will suffer and be in darkness.
Every one, therefore, receiving the light should take heed to it as a precious thing lest he lose it, and have darkness instead. The eye, the light, here represents the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, which has the greatest power to bless us; and this, if lost, would mean to us even a greater darkness than that we experienced before coming to a knowledge of the Lord.