Have you ever been in a situation where there is a power struggle going on? You see it in political parties, sometimes in business and often in family life. What is the outcome of these factional disputes? Chaos, anarchy, trouble, frustration and the list goes on.
In this section of scripture we see the Lord discussing this same issue from a spiritual perspective and how it impacts us as individuals. The point that he makes is a divided kingdom cannot stand, and this is true of any hierarchy or structure where some form of rule exists.
Two Spiritual Kingdoms
There are two kingdoms in the spiritual realm, one led by Satan, which is evil and opposed to the other ruled by God. Some of the Pharisees in this section of scripture were accusing Jesus of being from the satanic kingdom for they said he was casting out demons by the power of Be-elzebul, who is actually Satan.
Jesus replied saying that if that was the case, then Satan’s kingdom is divided for why would Satan destroy his own power, being the power of demon possession over a man? Also there were exorcists operating among the Jews and who were of the Pharisees and so Jesus said to those accusing him, “If I cast out demons by Be-elzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.” (Verse 19)
Thus he proved he was not from the Satanic kingdom nor using the power of Satan to cast out demons. Jesus went on to say, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Verse 20) And of course if it was by the finger of God they should have believed God.
Also if they were opposing Jesus and opposing God in their statements, which they were, then whose side were they on? It is evident that they were not on the side of Jesus or God so there is only one other source of their malice and contention and that was from the power of the other spiritual kingdom of Satan.
Jesus went on to say that a strong man is able to guard his property until a stronger one comes along and overcomes him, destroying the armour in which he trusted and despoiling him. There are a number of ways that this can be interpreted as it could be read from either good overcoming evil or the reverse.
Jesus clearly was the stronger man in this example and he overcame Satan by casting out the demons and freeing this man who was in demonic slavery. Thus he despoiled Satan.
However the reverse can apply also and is a strong warning to us. A Christian who is not walking properly with the Lord may not be strong enough to overcome when attacked by Satan. Paul warns us saying, “Therefore take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)
If we do not equip ourselves fully by taking all of the armour described in Ephesians, then we cannot stand against Satan. Without the full armour there will be weaknesses that Satan can attack and possibly overcome. Thus it is important for us learn all that the Lord teaches so that instead we can overcome and despoil Satan’s kingdom.
He Who Is Not With Me
Finally Jesus shows that there is no middle ground. He says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Verse 23)
You cannot stand in the middle. You are either with the Lord or against the Lord. If you are with him you are gathering and if against you scatter. You scatter because you are not providing a witness for Christ and in fact may turn some away who are wavering.
Make sure you know where you stand. Stand with the Lord. Take on the full armour of the Lord so that you can stand with him against the attacks of Satan, and in due course overcome and despoil him.