Our message series is called “Doing What Jesus Did.” To be a follower of Jesus is to say and do the same things that Jesus did. We’ve learned from the gospel of Luke that Jesus did three main things. He preached the gospel of the kingdom, He healed the sick and He cast out demons.
Not only did Jesus do these three things, He trained His disciples to do the same things. In Jesus’ ministry vast crowds gathered to hear him preach and be healed and delivered. Yet everyone did not follow him or believe in him. As Jesus’ ministry continued to grow, the opposition to Jesus began to grow as well.
Today, we’re going to study some of the opposition to Jesus’ ministry. As we do, we recognize that we also are going to face opposition in life. My message today is entitled “Winning the Three Battles of Life.” If you’re a believer, a follower of Jesus, you are in a battle. Your battle is with the power of darkness that engages you in three areas. To follow Jesus does not exempt us from life’s battles, rather it increases them.
John 15:19 (ESV) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
In this verse, Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the time and to us as disciples today. If you’re a believer, then the world hates you. Who is the world? The world is the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan. The members of the kingdom of darkness are evil spiritual beings called demons. And the members of the kingdom of darkness are also all unbelievers. You see, every spiritual being and every human being is either a member of the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light that is the kingdom of God.
John 15:20 (ESV) Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
Not only will the followers of Jesus be attached by evil spirits, they will be persecuted by unbelievers. Just as Jesus was. The attacks of the kingdom of darkness have two aims. The first aim is to simply silence you, to stop you from being a witness. If the dark kingdom cannot silence you, it will attempt to destroy you.
2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Those who are living a godly life for Jesus will be persecuted. Let’s put that another way. If you’re not being persecuted, you aren’t living a godly life. That’s why Jesus elsewhere tells us to rejoice when we’re persecuted. Because we’re doing something right, so important that we’ve got the devil’s attention.
Unfortunately today in America, the kingdom of darkness has done a pretty good job at silencing believers and the church. Not by the threat of imprisonment, harsh fines or torture. But simply through the fear of what others may think of us. God wants that to change for everyone listening to this message.
Proverbs 28:1 (ESV) The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
God wants us to overcome fear and be bold as lions in the face of opposition. Today, we’re going to learn more about being overcomers in the three battles of life. To begin with, we need to …
Luke 11:14-15 (ESV) Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,”
The demon’s destructive effect on this man was that he was mute, he couldn’t speak. Demons can often cause what looks like physical ailments. Jesus took authority over this demon and broke its power over the man. After the man was delivered from the demon, he was able to speak. Some people accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan.
Luke 11:17-18 (ESV) But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.
Jesus basically said that the accusation made no sense. Satan has no desire to weaken his kingdom by setting people free from demons. There are two kingdoms at war in the world, Satan’s kingdom and God’s kingdom.
Luke 11:20 (ESV) But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
The finger of God is the power of the Holy Spirit that cast out the demon. This demonstration of kingdom power shows God’s kingdom is stronger than Satan. Jesus explains further in the next verses.
Luke 11:21-22 (ESV) When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.
The strong man in this verse is Satan, who is armed and guards the people whom are under demonic influence. Jesus is the one stronger, who attacks Satan’s demons and sets people free. Jesus then explains more about deliverance from demonic power.
Luke 11:24-25 (ESV) “When the 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.
Jesus explains that deliverance from demonic oppression is not necessarily permanent. The demon can return to the person that it was cast out from. If it finds the man’s soul is empty and unprotected, then something terrible is going to happen.
Luke 11:26 (ESV) 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.”
We learn much from Jesus’ description here. A person can be oppressed by varying number of demons. Secondly, demons have different levels of evil and pain that they can inflict. If the person whom the single demon has been cast out of has not been filled with the Holy Spirit, then he will end up much worse in the future. So, let’s some more about the reality of demon opposition.
Demons are real and they are all around us. Most people think that demon possession is a rare occurrence, it is not. The word translated demon possession in the Greek literally means demonized. A demonized person can have different degrees of demonic influence from one to many demons that can affect every aspect of their life.
How can a person be protected from demons? Jesus gave the answer in verse 13, immediately preceding this passage on demons. The answer is to ask the Father to give or fill you with the Holy Spirit. Then your soul will not be empty, but filled with the Holy Spirit, who will protect you. That is how you can win this first battle in life and help others win as well. Let’s look at the next battle from people …
Luke 11:27-28 (ESV) As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
A woman in the crowd yells out a blessing on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Jesus corrects this woman’s focus on Mary as someone to be worshipped. Blessing comes to those who listen to God’s Word and obey it.
Luke 11:29-30 (ESV) When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
Earlier in this passage, people who seeking Jesus to give them a sign from heaven so they could believe. Jesus has been healing and delivering hundreds, if not thousands of people He has been doing miracles of all kinds and yet people were asking for another sign. Jesus calls them an evil generation.
Despite having seen multiple signs, they still have not believed in him. Jesus says they will be given another sign, the sign of Jonah. Jonah spent three days in the belly of the whale before being saved. Jesus’ ultimate sign would be spending three days in the grave before being resurrected.
Luke 11:31-32 (ESV) The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
Overall, the Jewish people did not listen to Jesus’ wisdom. They did not repent of their sin and believe in Jesus. So, judgement will fall on all those who actually saw Jesus’ miracles and heard his teaching, but refused to believe.
Today, there are those around us, who oppose our witness for Jesus. There are some who worship and even pray to Mary, which is idolatry. Others, refuse to believe even when the Gospel is presented or miracles happen. Jesus was persecuted by those kind of people and we will be as well. He continued to love them and so must we.
Perhaps God will change their hearts and turn them to Himself through our prayers and witness. Don’t be discouraged by the opposition of people to your witness, it’s going to happen. But God will bless you as you are faithful to Him. Finally, the last battle is to …
Luke 11:33 (ESV) “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.
In this passage, you as a believer are to be like a lamp set on a stand for all to see the light of Jesus. We are not to be silenced, we are not to be quiet, we are not to hide, we are to shine. Everyone you know should know that you are a follower of Jesus. Everyone you know should have heard how to believe in Jesus, multiple times. Now, Jesus goes into more detail on how we can let our light shine brightly in a dark world.
Luke 11:34-35 (ESV) Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.
Your eye in these verses speaks of what you literally look at and what you focus on in life. When your eye is healthy, it will be focused on Jesus and His Word. Jesus is the light of the world, and so when you look at Him, you are filled with light. A bad eye is focused on things other then Jesus, which is darkness. When you focus on darkness, then your whole being will be plunged into darkness. Darkness is where demons dwell. Jesus warns his followers, don’t let the light in you become darkness by focusing on the wrong things.
Luke 11:36 (ESV) If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Jesus concludes with a wonderful promise. When our eye is focused on Jesus and so we are full of light, what will be the result? The result will be that the light of Jesus will shine through giving light to all those around. We will be that lamp set on a stand for everyone to see the light of Jesus.
In today’s world, our eyes are more important than ever before in the history of the world. For most of world history, in order to see something that was bad, you had to travel to a bad place to observe evil. With the advent of movie theaters, you could see all kinds of bad things, but you had to go to the theater. Now, you can see any kind of evil thing on your phone and no one will even know you are looking at it. You can communicate with an evil person on the other side of the world if you so choose.
Are phones evil? No, they can be used for good or evil. Let’s use them for good, keeping our eyes healthy, so that our light can shine. You can let your light shine through your phone. You can let your light shine through Facebook. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and let your light shine to everyone you can reach. Overcome the enemy inside
Today’s message from God’s Word really begins with our last point. We need to cultivate healthy eyes, focused on Jesus and His word. Be careful what you look at, what you focus on. Don’t cover up your light, let it shine. People are going to oppose you, they are going to try to stop the light from you.
Why? Because it exposes the sin and evil in their lives. Rejoice and just keep you light shining. Finally, behind all our battles in life is Satan and his army of demons. Yes, they really are everywhere. May God use us to set people free to follow Jesus more and more.