Satan has lost everything. Oculi Sermon 2013. St. Luke 11.14-28
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Luke 11:14-28
March 3, 2013
“Satan has lost everything.”
In the Name of Jesus.
God is gracious and kind even with those who are hardened against Him. He gave Pharaoh a long time to repent and sent Moses to him again and again to warn him, even though Pharaoh went back on his word and was arrogant toward the message Moses brought him from the Lord.
But when someone hardens their heart against God’s word, nothing helps them. They just become worse. The more God seeks to turn them back, the more they hate Him. And they become insane in their rage against God.
Pharaoh’s sorcerers had copied the plagues God sent on Israel, but with the plague of gnats they could no longer copy them. The power of the devil ran out, but God’s power was not even warmed up. So the sorcerers told Pharaoh: “Look, we can’t stand up against this. This is not witchcraft. This is the very finger of God.”
Yet Pharaoh, like a madman, kept fighting God when even Pharaoh’s sorcerers knew they were outmatched.
Jesus’ opponents in the Gospel are just the same. They begin to say crazy things. Jesus casts a demon out of a man. It is clearly a work of God; motivated by compassion, full of power that does not reside in human beings. But while the crowds are amazed, some in the crowds say, “He is casting out demons in the power of Beelzebub.” Beelzebub is the name the Jews used for the devil. It is a contemptuous name; it means “Lord of the flies” or “Fly-King.” The name is supposed to mean that the devil is weak compared to God, which is true; but he is still very strong compared to us.
This criticism of Jesus really makes no sense. Even in earthly households and kingdoms we can see it. Houses in which the husband and the wife are against each other instead of united don’t stand. Neither do nations last long when they are constantly fighting each other. It’s no different in the devil’s kingdom. If each demon were allowed to go around throwing out other demons, things would fall apart. Just like the US government doesn’t allow each state to set up its own president, or to opt out of amendments to the constitution that they don’t like, the devil doesn’t allow his kingdom to fight itself.
The critics of Jesus are saying things that are obviously false. But that’s how it is when someone hardens their hearts against Jesus. They say and do things that obviously make no sense or contradict Scripture, and no human persuasion will change their minds. When we harden our hearts against Christ’s Word, the danger is that the time will come when the Holy Spirit no longer pleads with us but lets us have our way.
This is the way it is in the world with Christ’s word, even now. It is blamed for divisions, for problems, for lovelessness. It is called the devil’s word. Why? Because Satan rages at the Word. And so do those who are in his kingdom.
Why are Satan and his followers so threatened by Christ’s Word? Because it attacks the lies of the devil. And those who have put their trust in lies have their false gods attacked by Christ’s word.
Jesus explains it: if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God is upon you. That is a threat to Satan.
Words don’t look like much to us. We’re impressed by power, etc. The devil’s kingdom is one of appearances.
Why is Jesus such a threat to his opponents, and above all to the demons? All He does is preach and teach. All He has is words, and some signs that do not advance a political regime, but simply heal, exorcise, etc.
Jesus’ words are a big threat because His Word is the finger of God.
His Word is spirit and life.
His Word goes into nothingness and creates.
It enters the darkness and brings light, banishing the darkness.
Jesus’ word binds up the tyrant, the devil, who keeps us in spiritual bondage.
It enters Satan’s domain that he has usurped and dethrones him. The devil who brings disorder, chaos, who smears what is true with the filth of lies is dethroned by Christ’s Word—because it is the truth.
It isn’t lies and mirages. It sets things in order and brings life.
We are not impressed with words, but with things that we suppose “get things done”—money, power, force, glory, nobility, beauty. But Jesus’ word is horrifying to Satan (and those who belong to him) because it doesn’t have to look or appear mighty, beautiful, or wise. It is the word of God.
What it says, is.
Regardless of how things appear.
So it drives out demons who oppress people bodily with the truth that they have no power over human beings anymore. But it also drives Satan out of the soul. It demolishes the lies of Satan, the spiritual fortifications in which he entrenches himself…human wisdom, false doctrine, earthly power, wealth, grandeur.
Those lies by which he enslaves are smashed. And he is overcome. His possessions are taken and divied up by Jesus the conqueror among His brothers.
What does Jesus preach that does this to Satan?
The forgiveness of sins through Jesus, who is our God, and also one of our own. Our brother.
The forgiveness of sins tears Satan’s fortifications apart. It breaks and melts his weapons. It is the tolling bell of Satan’s doom. It is the death-knell of the devil; the forgiveness of sins proclaimed among men by men because God has entered the race of Satan’s war-captives and become one of them and taken up their fight.
Satan loses everything! The foot of a human being is on his neck, just as God told him would happen after he deceived and murdered in the garden. The seed of the woman puts his heel on the serpent’s head. And when Jesus tramples Satan, so do you. So do I. So do all who believe in Jesus.
When Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, it will be a human tongue that sentences Satan to the unquenchable fire. And when Jesus gives the sentence, we will join in speaking the condemnation, because we are joint heirs with Christ. Scripture teaches this: “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor. 6:3) Psalm 149:5-9 “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats, and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. To execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the Lord!”
In fact we pass judgment on Satan every time we confess the faith. “No one can say: Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment, because…the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16: 8, 11). “…the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” [Revelation 12:10-11].
To confess: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is risen, and also: My sins are surely forgiven, I am redeemed—is also to announce and pronounce Satan’s doom.
That is why Satan rages at Jesus’ preaching and goes wild—both in the days of Jesus’ humiliation and now. When Jesus is on earth, he gets to wild that he does an utterly stupid thing and tries to silence Jesus by force and by lies. The servants of Satan have Jesus falsely condemned and murdered.
And that is their undoing, because as His blood begins to pour, the word of Jesus comes to pass. The pouring blood seals His preaching. It is the price of the forgiveness of sins. It is the ransom for Jesus’ brothers who are enslaved. It is erasing the devil’s claim, blotting out the record of our debt.
And when the Lord Jesus’ heart beats for the last time and He shouts His final breath, the old has gone. The new has come. All that the accuser would have us trying to clean up forever—all the horror, misery, and evil which he smeared on us and God’s good creation and finally on the Son of God—it ends. It disappears.
Satan’s kingdom is “a joke, a mere façade
God is with us and we with God—Our vict’ry cannot fail.”
(LSB 666 “O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe”, Jacob Fabricius 1593-1654)
He is defeated, and all that is in front of him is the waterless place in which he will spend eternity. There will never be any relief for him, nor for those who prefer his lies to keeping the Word of God. His place is in the hell of fire, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
That is why Jesus rebukes the woman who praises Jesus’ mother Mary. “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” Not that the woman is wrong; the Holy Spirit sang through Mary “All generations will call me blessed.” And truly she was blessed and is a blessing to us in that she is the mother of God.
But blessedness—true, everlasting blessedness, does not come from bearing the Son of God, nor preaching Him, casting out devils, or any other mighty works in His name. True blessedness is believing the Word of Mary’s son, which is that blessedness and salvation comes through His work alone which is proclaimed in the Gospel and received by faith. Blessed is the one who hears the word of God—the forgiveness of sins given freely in the Son—and keeps it by faith.
When a devil is cast out, it goes into deserted places. It finds no rest there because demons find relief in lying, deceiving, destroying us. Creating chaos and robbing us of the good God gives us.
So they come back…and when the word is not kept our state is worse than before. When we grow tired of the word, old vices return easily, and the state of the person or household, church or nation that has grown tired of it is worse than before.
See how the state of Illinois is about to call homosexual partnerships “marriage”? Homosexual sin is not unheard of in world history, but honoring and embracing it and refusing to make any distinction between the sterile fornication of two men or women and the life-bearing union of a man and woman as one flesh—is worse than any immorality the ancient world saw.
See how when the preaching of Christ rescued our ancestors from the worship of idols, the devil returned and instigated the worse idolatry of the papacy, in which people treated Mary and the saints as gods who, along with bone fragments, pilgrimages, vows of celibacy and poverty, and the abuse of the Holy Sacrament of Jesus’ body and blood as an atoning sacrifice offered to God, were supposed to turn God’s anger away and his heart toward us?
Mary and the saints were blessed because they heard the Gospel and kept it by faith.
Wherever faith disappears, people become slaves of the devil again. They put their trust in indulgences, bones, other mediators, because they do not believe that their sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.
They put their trust in the antichrist, the Pope, or in false prophets, or in human reason, to teach them the truth of God because they will not simply hear the Word of God in Scripture and keep it.
We are foolish if we think this can’t happen to us; it already has, in many cases. How many Lutherans are agnostics who say that it is impossible to fully understand Scripture in order to avoid controversy or causing offense? How many Lutherans are uncertain of their salvation? The two things go together.
Jesus rebukes us so that we may repent, not because He desires our destruction. He shows mercy that leads us to repentance. When the kingdom of God is upon you, that is not the end for you. It is the end of captivity and slavery—the end of a life that ends in everlasting death. It is the end of a life where you reject Christ and try to do it yourself and the beginning of the freedom with which Christ has made us free.
Everything is done for you in Jesus. Sins are forgiven by His blood; Satan is driven out by His Word. Everything you need, everything our congregation needs, is in His Word.
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.
Soli Deo Gloria
- The Seed Bears Fruit According to its Kind – Sexagesima Sermon (edited) (2013) (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)