This parable talks to me about divisions in the church and in the country. It also talks about hypocrisy and the “unpardonable sin.” While Jesus was removing a demon from someone, the church leaders were quick to judge and criticize (as always) and did not discern the truth. By accrediting the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil, they committed the sin that Jesus said cannot be forgiven. Again, it just wasn’t the act, it was their evil hearts. In Jesus’ answer to the church leaders’ charge, He shows that a divided house cannot stand. I believe that is true in our church, in our families, and in our country. And if we are not careful, we are heading there fast.
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house. “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
This has always been a hard scripture knowing that we have a forgiving God. Does this mean that those who said this cannot repent and be forgiven? Or is it because their heart is so hard that there is no turning back? I really don’t know. Most of the Pharisees were so against Jesus that they would do anything to get rid of Him. Some did it out of selfish pride, and others did it because they truly believed they were doing what was right, for example, Saul, who became Paul, and Nicodemus. But most of them had wicked hearts and didn’t like Jesus calling them out.
And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.”
Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.”
And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.
Jesus had strong words for the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees, Scribes and Lawyers were all about following the rules of the Law, both God’s Laws and the extended laws that the religious leaders created. They imposed unnecessary burdens on the people and created loopholes for themselves. With all these rules, this gave them power. And they took advantage of it and were very prideful. Their heart was not for others nor for God, but for themselves. In Jesus parable, He talked about how a divided house cannot stand. He was explaining that He could not possibly be working with Satan by removing demons. This would go contrary to what the devil would do. When religious leaders put themselves on a pedestal above everyone else, this creates division. Scripture reminds us that we as a church are to be united and to avoid divisions and disputes, yet we so often get caught up in petty disagreements that get blown out of proportion. This happens all too often in families, as well. Divisions may also be caused by not following the gospel and compromising the truth.
But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Of course, the answer to his rhetorical questions is “no!” We are all united through Christ and should act like it. We are the body of Christ. We are to love each other. And sometimes love means speaking the truth to our brothers and sisters who are practicing sin, and disciplining those who cause divisions. We are to pray for each other and hold each other accountable. We are to rejoice with others when good fortune comes their way and mourn with others when they are struggling. We stick together and encourage one another.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
If we are the body, and we are following the Holy Spirit, there would be no room for divisions or hypocrisy. Jesus said that the world will know we are His followers by if we love one another.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.