THE DANGER OF DANCING WITH THE DEVIL
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
March 11, 2018
14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled.
15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
— Luke 11:14-28, ESV
In the previous passage I admonished you to dance with the Lord as you listen and respond to Him in prayer. Now I want to warn you about dancing with someone else. No, this is not an old school Baptist harangue “agin the dance.” It is a solemn warning against going cheek to cheek with a most dangerous fellow and his followers: the devil and demons.
The last mention of demonic possession in the Gospel of Luke merits a long look. It is a matter-of-fact story mixed with a little Christological controversy then punctuated with peculiar praise for Jesus’ mother. All of the words work together to warn us against dancing with the devil and point us to the only thing that can ensure our escape from sharing old slewfoot’s eventual damnable destination.
The Devil is Stronger Than Us
The devil and demons are not foreign to the Old Testament, but demonology is fundamentally a New Testament doctrine. Of the thirty-four appearances of the word “devil” in the Bible, not one is in the Old Testament and all but one in the New Testament refers to a singular, spiritual, sinister being (the other refers to Judas Iscariot). Of the eighty mentions of one or more “demons” in Scripture, only three are in the Old Testament (referring more to false religion than fallen angels) and sixty-nine of seventy-seven in the New Testament are in the Gospels. Luke leads the way in bringing them into the narrative.
So, demonology is fundamentally a New Testament subject and overwhelmingly a study in the Gospels. This is because, in my opinion, the devil and every demon from Hell ascended upon Palestine during the three-year ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan and demons are real, they really hate God and man, they do real harm, and there is really not much most people can do to stop them. Now would be a good time to queue up the scary music from “The Exorcist.”
But Luke’s Gospel is no fictional movie, it is the factual account of the interaction between God, devils, and mankind. The weakest link in the chain is us. We are certainly no match for the omnipotence of God and we do not possess the supernatural powers of the devil. James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (ref. James 4:8). I’m afraid the same is true of the devil. And if a person gets too close, if he or she begins to dance with the devil, the devil or one of his minions will not only lead, he will take control. Demon possession is a Gospel, biblical, and historical truth.
In Luke alone, multitudes near a synagogue (ref. 4:33ff), Mary Magdalene (ref. 8:2ff), men living in the Gadarene tombs (ref. 8:27ff), a young man at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration (ref. 9:42ff), and this mute (ref. 11:14ff) were all possessed by the devil or devils. We do not know exactly what they were doing when the devil came in, but obviously somehow or some way they got too close.
Be careful, for the devil is stronger than us. But be hopeful, for Jesus is stronger than the devil.
Jesus is Stronger Than the Devil
In this and every case, when Jesus encounters the devil, Jesus wins. He casts them out and heals the harm done to the humans. Demons may be stronger than us, but they are no match for the Lord, if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Many of the people surrounding this event did not. They had three years to weigh Jesus’ preaching and teaching. They had witnessed His miraculous abilities, on this and perhaps other occasions. They had heard people call Him the Son of God, but they called Him the son of “Beelzebul,” another name for the devil.
C.S. Lewis coined the concept that all people must commit to one of three concepts when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. He was either a conman like contemporary televangelists, a madman controlled by the devil himself, or the one and only God-man. Of these three options in this episode, it was obvious by now that Jesus was not getting rich from His ministry. That leaves only two, and as the Lord said so Himself, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (ref. vs. 23).
If you by grace repenting and believing in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are safe from the enemies of the devil and demons. They cannot possess a temple filled with the Holy Spirit. They can only tempt you, and the Lord is with you to deliver you from temptation. You are saved and you are safe. If you have not been born again through the Spirit and the word and converted into a Christ follower, they you are in grave danger. And, as the next lesson from the Lord allows, you may not even know it.
The Devil is Smarter Than Us
In the second story Jesus told in this text, devils are so familiar with lost people that they call them, “my house” (ref. vs. 24). Saved people belong to God; lost people belong to the devil (ref. also John 8:44). The devil is smarter than them both, The saved rise above him through the IQ of the Spirit, but the lost remain deaf and dumb (and in this case for a while, mute) to his schemes, two of which are hinted at in this story.
One thing the devil does when he comes into a lost person’s life is raise hell. He makes a lot of noise (or in this case, none at all) or motion in some kind of weird way. This gets the attention of Jesus, or some other exorcist, and out he goes. This is the most common way to think of demon possession and is oft demonstrated in the Gospels.
But I think this story reveals a second way of demonic possession which is actually most common, because most lost people do not seem that bad. How many people do you know who can turn their head all the way around and shoot vomit a mile away? That’s what I thought. But how many lost people do you know who live relatively normal, clean, law abiding lives? They are everywhere.
And that’s where the devils most like to live, in clean houses. They camp out seven-fold. They don’t make too much noise or mess, or else they might get kicked out. Their scheme is to lull their house, their lost person, into a spiritual slumber, a delusion that tricks them into thinking that the devil does not even exist. And, neither does God. This is the most dangerous kind of demon possession of all, and it is all around us.
Jesus is Smarter Than the Devil
So, what can we do? The woman at the end of this text tells us to just praise the Lord. Praise His mama. Bless His name. Bless His mama’s name. Let’s just turn up the music and praise and bless the Lord, and the devil will go away, right?
The devil does not care about our music. As a matter of fact, I think he likes most of it. But there is one think that strikes fear in his heart, one thing that can cast him out, one thing that can take a house of the devil and turn it into a temple of the Holy Spirit. That one thing once again is the word of God, the Holy Bible, inspired by God and written through His providence and the personalities of the human authors, rightly preached and rightly taught. That’s why Jesus, infinitely smarter than the devil or man, concluded, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (ref. vs. 28).
I’ve often said that the worst theology I’ve ever heard was in the summary statement, “God votes for you, the devil votes against you, and you cast the deciding vote.” Try that on this text and you’ll see how it does not work. You and I are no match for the devil, the devil is not match for God, and God is sovereign and infinitely greater than all. The only way to defeat the devil is to have faith in and faithfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ according to the word of God. You do have a free and willing choice to make in the matter: You’ll either defeat him or dance with him. Just remember the danger of dancing with the devil and put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org