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Judgmental Spirits

Judgmental Spirits

I’m continuing to post through the Gospel of Luke. We’re in chapter 11, where Jesus has just given His disciples a teaching on prayer. When we pray like Christ, we’re calling for God’s kingdom to be manifest on earth.

When that takes place, we experience the miraculous. There are many responses when that happens. Now we’ll see an example of this in Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.

Luke 11:14 NIV

Here was something to praise God over. A man was unable to speak, and probably unable to hear, because of demonic oppression. Jesus cast out the demon and the man was healed. This should have cause everyone to enjoy God’s goodness. But, that wasn’t the case.

But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

Luke 11:15-16 NIV

These responses simply amaze me. Instead of enjoying the blessing of God, the religious leaders felt the need to prove their authority.

Some of them, out of jealousy, said the Jesus could cast out demons because He was one of them. Others wanted to inflate their egos by saying they needed the Lord to show them a sign that proved what He was doing was of God.

The Lord just cast out a demon. That should be sign enough!

This is what happens when people who are self-important run into someone with real power. They have to prove, mostly to themselves, that they’re really superior. However, I think it was clear to the crowd exactly what was going on.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.”

Luke 11:17-18 NIV

The first thing that Jesus does, is to prove the foolishness of their argument. Kingdoms cannot stay strong if they’re divided. Satan is not going to cast out a demon if God’s going to get glory from it.

But, there’s another important point I want to make here. This is not the first time the Pharisees have seen Jesus cast out devils. They’ve witnessed many miracles at His hand.

The above verse says that Jesus knew their thoughts. The word, thought, in that verse, literally means their conclusions, something they had already thought through.

Their response to the miracle was not something they said quickly, without thinking. This was something that they had discussed previously and had planned to use at the next opportunity. They concluded that the best way to undermine the Lord’s work, was to attack His character.

The religious leaders wanted people to question His motives. Is He really operating in the power of God? Has He really proven that His power is from the kingdom of Heaven?

This is why, on many occasions, Jesus seemed to be very strict with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.

Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

Luke 11:19-20 NIV

The fact is, the Pharisees understood that it was the power of God driving out demons. There were some Pharisees who truly trusted God and were operating in the same authority. Jesus encouraged these foolish ones to go to them and let them judge the argument.

The lesson is that we need to be careful who we judge as to the validity of their ministries. You might not like their personalities. However, that doesn’t mean that God’s not working through them.

Question: How judgmental are you of other ministries?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2022 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Heart for Israel

God’s Heart for Israel

I’m continuing my study through the book of Romans. In my last post, we saw that by opening salvation to the Gentiles, God was hoping to provoke a spiritual jealousy in Israel. Paul now summarizes how this happened.

And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”

But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Romans 10:20-21

This is how God is working His plan. He started by revealing Himself to those not seeking Him. Then, through the faith of the Gentiles, He’s trying to get Israel interested in following Him. Because of this, it turns out that the Gentiles profited by Israel’s rejection of God’s love.

As I started saying in my last post, the Gentile church started rejecting God’s plan in many instances. They started pushing Israel further away. Many taught that Israel was totally rejected by God.

Listen as Paul speaks to this issue.

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Romans 11:1

Paul asks the question; did God cast away His people? The answer – Absolutely not! Paul uses himself as proof that God is still in the business of calling the Jewish people to Himself.

Paul now takes us to the important issues in God’s dealings with Israel.

God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Romans 11:2-4

The key words in this passage is that God did not reject His people whom He foreknew. God, in His infinite knowledge, knows beforehand who will turn to Him in faith. There are many of the Jewish people who will look to their Messiah in faith, trusting Him for their salvation.

Paul uses the example of Elijah to make his point. This Old Testament prophet interceded with God against Israel. This occurred right after his victory on Mt. Carmel. His life was threatened by the queen, Jezebel, and he went off and had a pity party.

You can read it in detail in 1 Kings 19:9-14. Even with a revelation of God, Elijah had a one-track mind.

“It’s all their fault. Just be done with them. Destroy them all.”

God’s answer to Elijah is very important. He told the prophet that there were still 7000 people who were faithful to God. The Lord still had a remnant.

Where were they? They obviously weren’t very bold in their service to God. Why weren’t they supporting Elijah while he faced the prophets of Baal single-handedly?

But, that’s not the point. There’s always a front line in this spiritual battle. The fact is that Elijah was not alone in his service to God.

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Romans 11:5-6

For Paul, this is an example of God’s mercy in the present time. There’s a remnant selected by grace and foreknown by the Lord. That’s why as believers, it should be part of our prayers that Israel should turn back to God wholeheartedly as a nation.

Question: What is your prayer for Israel like?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2021 in Faith, Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

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