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Sermon Notes, Third Sunday in Lent, St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church, 19 March 2017

Sermon Notes, Third Sunday in Lent, St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church, 19 March 2017

 

PRAYER

 

Gospel of St Luke 11:14-27

     14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
     
27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

 

Christ presents to our hearts, minds, and eyes a very stark lesson on the power of sin, darkness and death.

 

     14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.

 

A person is possessed of a devil, or evil spirit. This person has all his faculties of speech and communication, but the presence of an invited and evil guest into his heart has deprived him of the ability to use his God-given powers to speak and to communicate. It happened 2,000 years ago, and it has been happening in all intervening times to include the modern day.

 

Note the wonder of the people at the restoration to health of the formerly possessed person. The world is always surprised and misinterprets the works of God.

 

When we hide the Word of God in our hearts, we are strengthened against the ArchEnemy of our Souls – the Devil!

 

Ps 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

 

However, when we have a divided heart to admit even a small and cherished sin to remain in our hearts, it will grow and take possession of the whole organ.

 

Allowed sin always masters a man in time. The man may loathe his master, yet he obeys him; he may fear his master, yet still he does his hateful bidding.

 

Light always overcomes darkness because light is a positive value. Darkness has no real force. It is the absence of virtue – of righteousness. Even a tiny candle will dispel a roomful of darkness.  But we must light the candle!

 

God has given us His Word to light our way and illumine our dark hearts.

 

Ps 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

 

15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.

 

The modern church seeks signs and wonders! They must have always some present wonder and presumed miraculous sign to legitimize their faith, but what saith Christ?

 

 1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

 

We have been provided enough evidence for our faith and more in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – a well-documented historical event of history.

 

The doubters accused Christ of using the power of Beelzebub to cast out devils.

 

What does this term, BEELZEBUB, mean? Lord of the flies – another word for DEVIL.

 

When a dead body, or even excrement, is exposed to the light of day, flies cover it and lay their eggs thereon. Later, maggots appear on the dead.

 

These unbelieving and wicked observers accuse Christ of bringing a lower form of life from filth. But Christ never resurrected maggots, but totally restored and healthy human beings. His power was the Creative Power that created man in the first occasion in Eden.

 

BEELZEBUB:

The Lord of the Flies” is a book by British novelist William Golding and, for some reason, is required reading in most American schools.

 

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is a sordid tale about a group of kids who are stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes.

 

The story is set during the Atomic War and plenty of references are made to the fact. However, the real key to the story lies in the role of Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies.

 Beelzebub has a central role in the story as he represents the Beast, or evil, that dwells within all humans.

 

The Beast cannot be hunted and since it dwells within all humans, humans are all guilty because mankind is sick.

 

 The destruction of mankind is a point that Golding makes apparent often in this novel. He establishes early on that Beelzebub is a force within all humans that drives them to destroy and maim. (a perfect description of Satan as well as the sinful nature in all men and women born upon this earth)

 

Simon – loner who knows that the evil in every man’s heart can only be fought by reason and virtue. Murdered sadistically by all the others.

 

This book is an unhealthy book for one primary reason:

It ignores the God Equation and offers a human, rather than a spiritual, remedy.

 

. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

 

Christ knows our hearts. He sees our nakedness always. Nothing is hidden from Him – even our thoughts and motives are revealed as a book written.

Christ says: “…..a house divided against a house falleth”

 

If you ask the average historian who said this, they would tell you, Abraham Lincoln. But Lincoln was simply paraphrasing the Bible.

 

It is ridiculous to allege that good can result from the spirit of evil.

 

19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.

 

I was once involved with a local Korean minister who desperately wanted to acquire a new building for the church, but he did not want to inform the people of the plan. He knew, since they were paying for the building, that they might object to the cost. I advised him to inform the people and conduct prayer services to determine the Will of the Lord in the matter and to enlist the support of the people.

 

He became upset with me and later told a mutual friend: “That brother Jerry is good man, but He too much Bible!”

 

No one has ever, before, or after, paid me such an unintended compliment.

 

When you launch out courageously into the deep waters of God’s Word, there will always be the nay-sayers who gather to condemn you and impute false motive to your seeking. But, just as Father Noah did, keep building the Ark of Hope and Faith.

 

. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

 

Compare with Luke 9:49-50

 49. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. Luke 9:49-50

 

If a Roman priest stands and condemns homosexual marriage and abortion of innocents, will we today stone him for being Roman Catholic?

 

This might be Christ response to the book, Lord of the Flies -

 

24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

We are unable to clean and garnish our own hearts. This is the work of God, through His Word, and the working of the Holy Spirit.

 

If we renounce our sin of lust and greed, and remove them from our repertoire of sins, soon a greater an more wicked bag of sins will inhabit the place left vacant.

 

God’s Word, being Light, is necessary to dispel the darkness from our hearts. We are unable of our own strength and merit.

 

The book which I mentioned, obviates this principle and would leave men more destitute of virtue than before the attempted amendment.

 

If we have not yet surrendered our souls, unconditionally, to Christ, we are set for a  fall to a lower point than before our feeble resolution to better ourselves.

 

Human reason is not the answer. We need God in our lives. We need His Word in our hearts. We need the old heart regime to be filled with goodness – not simply devoid of evil.

 

A vacuum always draws on the environment. It always seeks to be filled. If we presumably empty our hearts of evil, we cannot keep them empty. Something will force its way in and occupy by force our Soul’s bastion. But if Christ resides there, there will be no room for the devil.

 

     27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

 

Christ is not interested in elevating our human image – He seeks to alter it completely – to restore it to His own intents and purposes evidenced in the Garden at Eden.

 

Hearing and knowing God’s Word is not enough for as James has said:

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:19-20

 

Saving Faith will always be reflected in our daily lives – the things we say and do, the manner in which we love and respond to those in great distress.

 

Remember that the Love of Christ was not simply a fondness, but a sacrificial, compassionate love that always expressed itself in action. When He saw, He had compassion.

 

Let us do likewise.

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