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Taking Back the House

• Greg Boyd

In Luke 11, Jesus talks about this world as a “house” that Satan guards. As Kingdom people, what do we do with that? If we look to Jesus, he simply tells us to take back the house. And how exactly do we do that? We don’t adopt the patterns of Satan and try to overcome violence with violence. Looking again to Jesus, he shows us that the only thing that can overpower evil, and that is self-sacrificial love. Only love can conquer evil; only light can dispel darkness.

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In this week’s passage, we read how Jesus drove out a demon that caused a man to be mute. In this context, Jesus was asked if he did this by the power of Beelzebul, which was a derisive term used for Satan. Jesus responds two ways. He first states that if he is casting out demons by the power of Satan, then there is civil war in Satan’s kingdom and that does not make sense. Secondly, since exorcists of the time were driving out demons just as Jesus was, the same question must be asked of these exorcists. And since everyone assumes that they do it by the power of God then so does Jesus. The problem was that Jesus did not do it according to their expectations.

This leads us to the main point of the passage. Jesus proclaims that he is driving out demons by the finger of God and therefore the kingdom of God is come through his presence. Satan is a strong man who guards his house, which is the domain of this world. But Jesus came as “someone stronger” who attacked and overpowered the “strong man.”

This passage confronts a view of salvation that just sees it as a legal transaction that will get people into heaven. Jesus came to overpower the Satan so that the Kingdom of God might be established. The world was supposed to be God’s house and humans were to be its landlords. But the whole thing got turned over to Satan when we rebelled.

With Satan overseeing the house, he promotes a kingdom of violence, control and abuse. The modern military machine illustrates this. For example, US military spending last year could have housed and fed the world’s poor 15 times over. Satan’s domain creates a kingdom of insanity. Our hearts and minds are dulled and jaded because we’re breathing polluted air. We’re under the oppression of evil and this is why world history is a broken record of cyclical violence.

Jesus did not come and die on the cross just to complete a legal transaction in heaven. He did not come to just to bless us and relieve us of guilt or simply rescue us from hell. The central reason he came was to overpower the strong man, free us slaves, reconcile the world, and equip us to join him in taking back the house. The house is God’s, and he wants it back. Jesus bound the strongman, and now through us he’s dividing up the spoils.

How do we do this? We don’t adopt the patterns of Satan and try to overcome violence with violence. Jesus overpowers evil with the only thing that can overpower evil, and that is God’s self-sacrificial love. Only love can conquer evil; only light can dispel darkness.

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Topics: Love, Non-Violence, Sacrifice, Salvation

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 11:14-22

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

    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 Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, 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 upon you.

    “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

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