The Gospel of Luke - Part 51: Power in Prayer  — Luke 11:14-26
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

We are in Luke Chapter 11 where Jesus teaches us:

A.   To Be Prayerful
B.   To Be Powerful and
C.   To Be Pure

The Lord’s Prayer was His teaching to be prayerful. Then two weeks ago we saw that Jesus teaches us to be persistent in our prayers.

His analogy about a friend coming to your door late at night asking for some bread, and who keeps knocking until the friend opens the door and gives him bread is about how we should continue to pray. Jesus tells us to be persistent in our prayers, not because God needs to be pestered, but because it demonstrates our faith and trains us to depend on God. Remember that the word “persistence” literally means “shamelessness”. We are to be unashamed to pray and to continue to pray and to show our dependence on God.

Jacob was persistent when he wrestled with God and would not let him go until God blessed him. The Canaanite woman with a demon possessed daughter was persistent, and Jesus granted her wish because of her demonstrated faith.

Also remember that it is not our place to demand that God grant our prayers, but it is our responsibility to initiate the request, to submit our requests to His will and to trust Him to answer them in the way that He knows is best for us, even if it is not the way we want Him to answer the request.

We need to remember who God is and that He is truly good. He wants what is best for us, even if we don’t know what that is. This morning let’s learn how to be Powerful.

When we started Chapter 11 we noted that to one degree or another, we are all social “chameleons” — we take on the “coloring,” the characteristics of the people who are closest to us. God recognizes this truth (that we are strongly influenced by those who are close to us). This truth can have a positive or negative effect on our lives.

We looked at these verses:

He who walks with wise men will be wise,
    But the companion of fools will suffer harm. —Proverbs 13:20

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” —1 Corinthians 15:33
Of course the strongest influence on our lives should be Jesus. But we need to recognize that this won't just happen naturally. We need to be committed to spending a lot of time with Him (in the Scriptures) listening to Him, watching Him, learning from Him. Luke 11:1 demonstrates this with His disciples. As they watched Him pray and listened to Him, within them grew a deep hunger to have the same quality, the same depth in their own lives.

With each subject Jesus addresses in this chapter, let's pray, “Lord, teach us about _____________ so that we can become more like You.”

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. —Matthew 11:29

We don't have to rely on the world's guesses and opinions. We didn't learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we're passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way. —1 Corinthians 2:13
This week, we consider what we can learn about power. We see Jesus’ power in this passage and applications that all of us can relate to.

Imagine a glove lying on a table. What can that glove do? Not much by itself. Now put a person's hand in that glove. Now what can it do? It can do anything the person can do! That's the way it is with us and Jesus — we're the glove and He's the hand! He can do through us anything He wants to do — things that would be totally impossible for us to do on our own.

This is the same model that Wayne uses with his massive suit coat.

And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. —Luke 11:14-16
What are some things that you notice in this passage?

Something else that Jesus taught His disciples was that He had power and authority over demonic forces. If religion gave power, then the Pharisees would have been the most powerful people in Israel. But it's not religion that gives us power but the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Maybe this is why the people had such a hard time understanding Jesus' power:

And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. —Luke 11:14
There are many references to Jesus casting demons out of people. These demons often were causing some kind of physical affliction in the people they possessed. However, there are other instances of Jesus healing that make no reference to demonic influence, Luke 6:10, for example.
After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. —Luke 6:10
The handout has some references to casting out demons in Luke. As you read through this list of passages, notice that Jesus' authority over demons was unchallenged. The demons understood that Jesus was the Son of God and had authority over them.

Notice the differing responses to Jesus’ miracle:

The crowds were amazed . . .

“Amazed” here is from the Greek word θαυμαζο [thaumazo], which can also be translated, “to be astonished, to marvel, to wonder, to be surprised.”

What does the fact that the people were “amazed” tell us?

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says that Beelzebub is “The name given to 'the prince of demons', clearly Satan, originally meant 'lord of the princes,' but had been corrupted to a pun denoting 'lord of the flies'.”

Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill. So he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness.” —2 Kings 1:1-2
Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.

The word “test” is the Greek verb πειραζο [peirazo] which can also mean “to tempt.” They were pressuring Jesus to prove Himself to them. Why were they asking for a sign when His healing of the mute person was clearly a “sign from heaven”? Because they didn't believe. They weren't interested in what He could do; they wanted to find something He couldn't do — they were looking for justification for rejecting Him.

It's interesting that none of these responses really indicate belief in Jesus. He had clearly demonstrated God's power yet the people did not believe.

Let’s look at why people refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah sent from God even when they saw His miracles.

But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. But if I cast 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 undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters. When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” —Luke 11:17-26
Look at what we see here.

But He knew their thoughts

Bible scholar A. T. T. Richardson says that this phrase emphasizes Jesus’ discernment as to motives, that He understood the motives and purposes behind the questions He was being asked.

If Satan also is divided against himself...

Jesus shows that their accusation is ridiculous. Is Satan really going to defeat his own works in the world? Satan would be weakening his own kingdom.

What do you think Jesus wants us to understand by what He says here?

There is a spiritual battle in this world. In this passage, Jesus responds to their accusations that His spiritual power over demons came from the devil rather than from God.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.

This clearly refers to Satan. Satan is “a strong man” — he has power; he has weapons and armor. Christians need to be careful not to take too lightly the great power of the devil. Remember that even Michael, an angelic warrior that leads heavens forces did not dare to challenge Satan in his own strength. Revelation 12:7 tells us that Michael is the angel general.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war. —Revelation 12:7
Jude tells us that even Michael did not depend on his own power.
But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” —Jude 1:9
Back to Luke, verse 21 says:

...guards his own house...

Satan's “house” is this world. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan is described as “the god of this world”.

...in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. —2 Corinthians 4:4
When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered Him “all the kingdoms of the world” and said that they all belonged to him.
And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” —Luke 4:5-6
Jesus refused Satan's offer but did not challenge the fact of his ownership of the world's kingdoms.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed [safe].

Satan's “possessions” are those who are without Jesus. At one time we all belonged to the devil. We were his slaves, under his power. The image here is vivid — a strong man, jealously guarding his house and protecting his possessions. But when someone stronger than he...

The “someone stronger” is Jesus. Though TV and movies often represent the powers of good and evil as being of equal strength, the Scriptures teach something very different. Jesus' power is infinitely greater than that of the devil.

Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. —1 Corinthians 15:24

These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful. —Revelation 17:14
Jesus is on the offensive not the defensive. When He came into the world, He was invading enemy territory.
But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. —Luke 11:22
He takes away from him all his armor

Jesus came to defeat the devil and to destroy his works.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. —Hebrews 2:14

The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. —1 John 3:8
Satan's most powerful weapon is death and Jesus took away the power of death from the devil.
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written,
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
    O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:54-56

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. —Hebrews 2:14-15
And distributes his plunder

The “plunder” is people. The battle we are engaged in is a battle for the souls of people. God led Paul to say it this way:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. —Colossians 1:13
Jesus continues in Luke:
He who is not with Me is against Me. —Luke 11:23
This is a very important truth concerning the spiritual battle — there are no neutral parties. We are either working for God or for the devil. Most people think that it is possible to be neutral. That's the presumption behind asking, “What about a good person who doesn't have Jesus; will God send Him to hell?” It's like saying, “What about the good Nazi who is kind to his friends; should he be punished for war crimes, too?” The assumption is that this “good person” may not be serving God but he isn't serving the devil either. But in this verse Jesus makes it clear — you're either with Him or against Him.

Jesus continues: When the unclean spirit goes out of a man...

In Matthew 12:45, Jesus explains that He is speaking here of “this evil generation”.

Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation. —Matthew 12:45
While Jesus is with them, He drives out demons and defeats the enemy. But if they stay “empty”, if they don't receive Him into their lives, then when He is gone the demons return and these people will be even worse off than before.

Here again, people tend to assume that they have three options: they can have Jesus in their lives, they can have the devil in their lives, or they can be “empty”, neutral. But we will be occupied — either by the Lord or the devil.

The first key to having real spiritual power is to yield my life to Jesus, to allow His Spirit to indwell every area of my life. Jesus said:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” —Acts 1:8
I need to be sure that I have genuinely yielded my life to Jesus, received Him as my Savior and Lord. Don't fool yourself. Don't think that religion is a defense against the devil. Don't think that you can be a “good person” apart from Jesus.

What is one area of your life that you need to “re-surrender” to the Lord?

Next week: we will continue in Luke 11 and Jesus’ teaching about being powerful.