Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Conflict of the Ages

"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12:28)

Jesus was a man, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil -- because God was with Him. He made it clear that He only did what He saw His Father doing. On one particular occasion it was casting a demon out of a wretch of a man.

Jesus healed him, giving him back his sight and hearing. The people who saw it were duly impressed, to say the least. "This has to be the Son of David!" they proclaimed. But the Pharisees, when they heard the report, were cynical. "It's nothing more than black magic," they said. "Some devil trick he's pulled from his sleeve."

Jesus confronted their slander with piercing wisdom -- "A judge who gives opposite verdicts on the same person cancels himself out; a family that's in a constant squabble disintegrates; so if Satan banishes Satan, is there any Satan left?" They couldn't answer Him -- but He wasn't finished: "If you're slinging mud at Me, calling Me a devil kicking out devils, doesn't the same mud stick to your own exorcists? " And then Jesus delivers the final blow against their ignorance -- "But if it's by God's power that I am sending the evil spirits packing, then God's kingdom is here for sure." (from the Message).

Jesus came with a specific purpose to render the devil of no effect, and to undo the works which the devil had wrought. He succeeded with overwhelming effectiveness. The Bible tells us "He exposed principalities as shattered, empty and defeated" (Colossians 2:15, Phillips NT). And, having done all this for our sake, He now has brought us into the victory of His great accomplishment; delivering us from the power of darkness, and translating us into the Kingdom of God.

Though it is finished, the full evidence of it will not be seen until the Day of the Lord -- when Christ returns. Until then, we are caught in the tension of two opposing kingdoms, experiencing the conflict of the ages.

Yet we are not victims, but victors. We are not helpless, but hopeful. We are not defenseless, but clothed in the armor of light. We are not powerless, but filled with the Holy Spirit. And we are not alone, but surrounded with a mighty host -- a band of brothers and sisters on earth, and armies of flaming angels in heaven above.

The Kingdom of God has come, and the devil is on the run!

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