The Return of the Seventy-Two, Jesus and Beelzebul, Return of an Unclean Spirit
These are the devious instructions given to the demon, Wormwood, in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The demons seek to corrupt without being noticed. But Jesus saw them when he walked the earth. In these passages from Luke, He reveals important truths that demons might try to keep out of mind.
First, evil exists, and it is powerful. The modern world may not feel comfortable with talk of the devil and his minions, but Scripture is clear that the danger must be taken seriously. Jesus speaks plainly of Satan falling from heaven, of evil spirits and demons, and “the power of the enemy.” These evil beings produce real world harm, including muteness, blindness, and mental disease.
Second, God has authority over Satan’s power. Jesus casts out a demon by God’s power—the mere “finger of God”—allowing a mute man to speak. The 72 disciples sent out by Jesus shared in this power, as “even the demons” were subject to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus told the 72 disciples that he gave them authority “over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” What an assurance!
Third, each person can be on only one side—the side of either Jesus or Satan. Jesus leaves no room in between: “Whoever is not with me is against me…” These words must have shocked Jesus’ listeners. These onlookers had seen him cast out a demon, but still they were skeptical. Some were outright offended. They even accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Jesus’ warning to them applies with equal force to us: if we are not with him, we are against him.
Finally, the only safe side is with Jesus. In one of the most harrowing passages of Scripture, Jesus warns us that no one is safe simply because an “unclean spirit” has gone out of that person. He says the unclean spirit will return, with more evil reinforcements. We cannot fight this by ourselves, by mere human effort. Only in Christ, through his power, can we be safe from such attacks. Remember, he told the 72 disciples, “nothing shall hurt you.”
This promise of Jesus reminds me of the epic battles in The Lord of the Rings. Evil may rise in power, it may bring reinforcements, hovering like dark clouds on the horizon or over our very souls. But the hero of the universe is on our side. He will come on his white horse and fight for us even if we are weak and unworthy. Praise God for that!
Lord, we want to be on your side. Stay close to us today and protect us from the evil one and his power.
Josh Simmons is the author of seven novels and The Awakening of Washington’s Church. Learn more about him and his work at www.jbsimmons.com.