Immediately after the Lord healed a demon-possessed man who was brought to Him, a buzz arose in the crowd, “Could this be the Son of David?” Hear this, the Pharisees quickly accused,
This fellow does not cast out demons except by
Beelzebub, the ruler of demons. (Matthew 12:24)
Not only was the intent of the Pharisees to turn the people away from thinking that Jesus could be the promised Messiah, but they also intended to insult the Lord. The people of Ekron worshiped a god known as Baalzebub (2 Kings 1:2), the god of flies. This false god was renamed by the Jews, Baal Zebul, the dung god. This shows the utter contempt the Pharisees had for the Lord.
A Logical Fallacy
Most people, slanderously attacked in a public setting, would lash out at the perpetrators. Jesus didn’t speak out against the Pharisees but used this as an occasion to teach. Since they could not deny the miracle, the Jewish leaders ascribed its origin to an evil source. Jesus took their accusation to its logical end, and thus demonstrated their error:
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation,
and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How
then will his kingdom stand? (Matthew 12:25-26)
Surely the demon which plagued the man brought to Jesus was of the devil, not God. How foolish then to charge that the power by which the man was made well also came from the devil. The devil is not in the business of defeating himself.
Not only was their claim contrary to logic, but if it were true, it also incriminated others who claimed to cast our demons. Jesus asked,
…if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your
sons cast them out? (Matthew 12:27)
Some of the Jews claimed to exorcise demons (Acts 19:13-14) and from the Lord’s words here, some of the Pharisees claimed this for themselves. If He used Satan’s power to do such works, on what basis should it be said that they did otherwise? In trying to condemn Jesus before the people, they of necessity also condemned some of their own.
The Power of God
The fact is, demons were not being cast out by the power of Satan, but rather the kingdom of God or the reign of God (YLT) had come near them. Finally, notice Jesus’ parable in the text:
…how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder
his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then
he will plunder his house. (Matthew 12:29)
The “strong man” is Satan. The demon-possessed man represents his goods. The devil had long strutted on the earth as though it was his and he was in charge of its inhabitants. Recall the turmoil he brought Job? Countless people who were afflicted by demons are spoken of in the gospels. He’s called the “accuser” of God’s people (Revelation 12:10) and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30). Though described in this way, the Lord tells us that Satan, “the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11). The fact that Jesus loosed this man of the demon that had plagued him was evidence, not that He used Satan’s power to do so, but that He had the power to defeat the devil.
Whose Side Are We On?
We are not mere observers of the battle between the Lord and Satan. We are either with the Lord or we are against Him (Matthew 12:30). If we are not with Jesus, we are with Satan. By their accusation, the Pharisees had shown themselves to be allies of the devil. In fact, they had so committed themselves to the cause of the enemy that they committed a sin for which there was no forgiveness—blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Not only did they speak against Jesus in attributing His word to the devil, but spoke against the Spirit, damning their souls in the process.
Friend, Jesus has defeated the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). Let us partake in the victory—turn from the temptations of the devil and live for the Lord Jesus.