Saturday, February 20, 2016

Jesus on casting out devils

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28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. (Matt 12:28-29)

The context for these verses is Jesus explaining to the Pharisees why he does not cast out devils through the power of Beezebub.

V29 above puzzled me for a long time.  I knew it was setting up an analogy somehow.  There’s the invader and the strong man who owns the house. I wasn’t sure which one was playing the devil’s role. 

Eventually I realized it was describing how Jesus cast out a devil.  It compares a strong man in a house to a devil in a man, and Jesus is the invader.  The invader has to bind the strong man first before he could spoil the house, meaning Jesus had to do something first to restrain the devil.  I suspect that it means Jesus had to rebuke by teaching some righteous principles and commit the person to live them, and use His priesthood power.  That restrains the devil, and then Jesus can take the devil’s possessions (the human soul) as the individual repents.

Some things we learn from this parable is that Jesus is stronger than the devil.  And because He is stronger, He can make us stronger too. 

We could also turn this parable around.  If Satan is invading, he can’t take over, unless he can bind us down and get us to give in.  So to overcome Satan’s temptations, we have to resist longer than he attacks.  And prayer can help us do that.  “Pray always, that ye may come off conqueror, yea, that ye may conquer Satan” (D&C 10:5).