YES, HE is Talking to YOU! (continued)
Love is the Fulfilling of the Law
We left off yesterday speaking about the superstition that surrounds the Christian view of Satan and how this superstition is supported by the legends and myths that have been put forth regarding this single being who is of such great power that he can defy God and for his ‘punishment’ is awarded the Earth and all that are therein as his playground. For all practical purposes, evil only exists here in this Earth but not in the physical existence but rather in the powers and forces of the lowest forms of human emotion and thought which we are all put in touch with by the living of our lives in form. Our example yesterday of the two opposite poles of Love and fear with the purity of Love in its highest degree being in the Presence of God and the baseness of fear, in its lowest degree, being in the presence of evil; from this we may get the idea of evil being the opposite of Love but we should rather look at it as just an effect of fear. Much like we had to do in searching to find a right understanding of Love that takes it away for the interpersonal ‘feelings’ that we have for wives and children or the extreme ‘likes’ that we have, so we have to delve deeper to find the real meanings of fear that take it away from being afraid of a thing, or a place or and event. While this is not the place to get into this discussion on fear, we can say that our ordinary view if it must be mediated with the kind of fear one should have of God and in the midst of this can be found the reality of what fear is.
As men, with emotional apparatus and with minds we are free to do as we will in this Earth and in this we can see our idea that it is based upon our nature or our apparatus, our nurture or what we learn and know, and whatever predispositions based on karmic effects that we bring to this life that we can be assigned our place in society and our readiness to move forward spiritually. We can all see around us people of various physical appearances from the tall and muscular to the feeble. We can also note that there is a large diversity of emotional makeups from the calm and seemingly unemotional to those who need medication to keep from going over the edge. Similar can be said about the mind which can range from the ability to be of the intelligentsia down to the being feeble-minded. We must remember that in each of us these are all combined; we all have bodies and emotions and minds and each can be anywhere on the scale of high to low and many interesting combinations are produced. It is in these combinations that we find ourselves at some point on the scale we built that goes from Love to fear and, again, the degree of carnal living will dictate the level that we find ourselves on on the lower side of the scale. Conversely the degree of spiritual living will dictate the level that we attain on on the higher side of the scale. So long as our apparatus is suitable, we can and do move along this scale and in both directions; the lower we go the more of the power and the forces of the world we will use and these are the power and the forces that we cleverly call Satan and the Devil and demons.
It is in this relation that the Apostle Paul tells us “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). We should point out here, and perhaps we should have addressed this before, that Paul’s use of the word mind is similar in effect to the use of the word heart by the Master. It has to do with understanding and can be seen in the same way as we see heart, as the conscious personality which is the combination that we just discussed above of body, emotions and mind. Vincent tells us that Paul’s use of this term is not based, like that of spirit and flesh, on the Septuagint, though the word occurs six times as the rendering of lebh heart and once for ruach spirit. He uses it to throw into sharper relief the function of reflective intelligence and moral judgement which is expressed generally by kardia heart. To continue the point, the transformation is the moving up on this Love-fear scale by the changing of the consciousness to a ever more spiritual level while conformity to the world is to remain in carnal living. Paul casts some additional light on the ideas we have above regarding the lower forces telling us “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:2-3). This saying gives us the idea of the power and the spirit, the forces as we say, working in people of a carnal nature through carnal acts and he is also saying that we were all in this state but we are no more because our focus has changed.
Getting back to our parable, let us repeat it here for convenience and go on:
“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. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 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. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 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. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 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. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 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” (Luke 11:14-26).
Let us look at this statement and the discussion over the last few days and relate it to the first part of our subject verse from this parable. The Master “was casting out a devil, and it was dumb” which we now know is a demon which is of a lesser sort than the devil. From the definitions we saw that demons are the unclean spirits which possessed men4 or they are the spiritual agents acting in all idolatry and as seducing spirits they deceive men in the supposition that through mediums….6. The non-theological idea is that the word demon signifies an evil spirit or genius, which influences the conduct or directs the fortunes of mankind1. Can we see here that we can either apply the idea to this demon that it was a spiritual being of the minions of Satan; an evil spirit or even a disembodied evil soul or we can apply the idea that it was the nature of the lower forces of fear and its minions of lust and anger and greed that possessed this man and influenced his conduct much like the many psychological disorders of today; a weak emotional nature or a weak mind or a debilitated body that required healing from the Lord and this healing was called casting out.
Do not misunderstand; there is a world of forces and energies that we do not understand and in which can exist even those that we can consider lost souls, but this is not our subject here. There are also, in the ministry of the Master, times when He healed people afflicted with demons and the demons spoke; this too is for another day. In this context however we should remember the point which we made earlier which is that in the reality and uncertainty of life there are things that are incomprehensible to us regarding what happens to a Soul after the death of the body. We have in the past painted a fuzzy picture of the ‘normal’ state and we have alluded to the abnormal and perhaps this will all become clearer as we go on. It will not however become any clearer by our holding to the superstitions and the legends and the myths that surround these ideas and the idea of death itself.
The Lord cast out the demon that afflicted this man and we should see this as an act of healing much like all the other acts of healing that Jesus performed. What is was that made this man unable to speak we cannot tell and it is useless to guess but we can say, based on today’s science, that some extreme emotional trauma can put one into a state where speech leaves him and in the curing of this emotional problem he can speak again. It is a miracle nonetheless on the part of the Master and the man did speak. We use here the emotional trauma idea to relate this to our Love-fear scale and show that with any debilitating issues of the emotional apparatus one can be gripped with some form of fear as the exhibition of the force or power that afflicts him. The next several verses are based on the superstitions prevalent in that day. The Jews watching are amazed by the healing of this man and relate it to their understanding of demons and the Devil. The Master goes on to tell them how wrong they are while never really addressing what it is that He did; He explains that is it not possible for Satan, who Jesus perceives they are equating Him and His work with, to cast out his own for if he did this thing how could his kingdom survive. Now many may think that this is an admission by the Master as to the reality of Satan and his kingdom but can this not just be Jesus responding to them in the same terms that they accuse Him in? His real life examples are of a Kingdom and a house being divided against themselves telling them that internal strife will bring them down. He speaks to them of Satan because this is what they believe and this is what they know.
We come next to a rather obscure statement regarding men, men who could be the children of those that Jesus is addressing, being able to cast out demons as they say that He did. He could mean his own disciples as some of these likely fit the criteria but it matters not; the question is posed that if He heals them by the power of the devil how do their sons do it? Jesus continues to say that if they do not like that idea then the other choice is that it is by God and if that is true the Kingdom is upon you. This gives them a choice of what to believe; that their own sons are devils or that the Master is of God. This still does not address what it is that He did, it only tries to show the people the absurdity of their thoughts and claims.
This next part is a difficult saying and is attributed in the commentaries as a battle between the Christ and Satan; if our premise is to be correct there must be a more understandable explanation. We should, of course, remember that this is a teaching by the Master and therefore it is likely parabolic. We can look as this in the context of the nature of man and along the lines of all that we have been saying. We will look at this section, beginning with the idea of the strong man, as a separate but related theme by the Master, we can make more of it this way than if we leave it tied to the idea of Satan and his demons being cast out by the power of God. Though the idea of the Greek word translated as strong has a variety of meanings, we will take it at face value in this context. The chronology of this part of the Master’s sayings varies from Luke to Matthew and Mark; in Matthew and Mark it is followed by verses regarding sin and blasphemy, and then in Matthew by ideas of good and evil before going on to speak about the unclean spirit. In Luke, as we see above, Jesus goes right into the theme of the unclean spirits. This only matters in regard to our ability to cogently explain what the Master is saying or better, what it is that He is teaching us.
We can look at this as the commentators do, in relation to Satan being a strong man and the Master being yet stronger. Vincent tells us in this context that Christ is not citing a general illustration, but is pointing to a specific enemy–Satan. How can I despoil Satan without first having conquered him?4. For those who think that the Master is speaking about the personality of Satan in this whole dialogue, this is a logical explanation. We can also look at this as what Vincent says that it is not and that is as a general illustration saying that one may think that he has what he needs and can protect it but there is one stronger than him that can come and take it. Here we must agree with Vincent as to say that this is not something we would expect to hear from the World Teacher, Christ Jesus. The last idea, though there are surely more, is that this is a parabolic view of good versus evil and this is the approach that we will take.
Let us say that ‘when a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace” is the Master’s reference to our carnal nature; we think we are strong and we are confident in what we do as men. We have our careers and our possessions and we are in a relative state of peace. Let us look here as some interesting word play; first the idea here of palace is not a palace but rather the outer court as it is in the Revised Version; Vincent tells us that the Greek words rendered as “his palace” is literally his own. Second is the idea of goods; the Greek word used here in Luke is just that goods or possessions but the Greek word in the same saying by the Master in both Matthew and Mark is different; in these gospels the word used is skeuos of which our lexicon says that it is: a vessel; an implement; in the plural household utensils, domestic gear, the tackle and armament of vessels, used specifically of sails and ropes; metaph. a man of quality, a chosen instrument in a bad sense, an assistant in accomplishing an evil deed “Vessel” was a common Greek metaphor for “body” since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies2. This puts this in a very different light, it is no longer clearly a strong man in his palace with his worldly possessions. Taking away then the idea of the physical palace and of the material goods can we not see the relevance of our point above; the man standing confident is what he is.
Jesus goes on here to say that “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. Where do we look to see who it is that is stronger than the man as the personality; do we look to another man in this context? do we look to Satan? or do we look to the Christ Within, the Inner Man, the Soul, as the stronger that he? Choosing the latter we can see that the Master’s idea here is when and not if and, using our context, we can posit that the Master says: one may be comfortable and even at peace in his carnal personality life (remember there is neither good nor bad implied here) but when the stronger Inner Man finally comes into this life He will overcome the lower self and will strip away all that the personality trusted in. Can we see here the continuation of the idea that good overcomes evil and carnal living as taken from the sayings before this one where Jesus tells them that all healing is from the powers of God and not from the lower powers. This gives us some relevance for this part about the strong man and we will see the continuation of this thought as the Master goes on some more regarding good and evil from the Gospel of Matthew.
Still more to go on these verses and we will continue in the next post.
Note on the Quote of the Day
This daily blog also has a Quote of the Day which may not be in any way related to the essay. Many of these will be from the Bible and some just prayers or meditations that may have an influence on you and are in line with the subject matter of this blog. As the quote will change daily and will not store with the post, it is repeated in this section with the book reference and comment.
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? (1 Peter 3:12-13)
Today’s Quote of the Day will become a part of the next post as it is tied to our theme.
- 1 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1828 and 1913
- 2 New Testament Greek Lexicon on BibleStudyTools.com
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition, 1888
- 6 Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1996