I wish to comment on the note by a reader from Crows Nest on the back cover of STGW, No. 342, Aug.-Sep. 2014.
It is headed “Deliverance Ministry”. I quote in full:
“The ministry is basically for Christians (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30; 2 Cor. 3:18) otherwise the enemy can come back seven times worse (Matt. 12:43-45).”
We will look at the two Scriptures from Matthew, as Mark 7 corresponds to Matt. 15.
Firstly, the woman was not a Christian, but a Gentile seeking to obtain healing for her daughter as would an Israelite – she called the Lord “Son of David”. He remained silent at her plea to Him as Son of David. Had He acted towards her as Son of David, it may have been to her hurt. The last verse of Zechariah (14:21) - “And in that day there shall not be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts“.
Only when she took the place of an undeserving “dog” - making no claim as if she were a Jew - that He met her need on the basis of pure mercy. He credited her faith as great. This and other “works of power of the age to come” were to show Israel that He was the long awaited Messiah. This has nothing to do with sin or sins here.
There were Jewish disciples of Jesus but not Christians during the Lord’s earthly ministry. Christianity proper began at Pentecost. A Christian is one who has come to Christ in repentance, has the forgiveness of sins and has the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, by which he is introduced into the one body, linked to Christ the head in heaven. No such thing existed before Pentecost. “I will build my church [assembly]” in Matthew 16. Prior to that it was Jew and Gentile [the nations]; now it is both formed into one body – see Eph. 2:16.
Deliverance for a Christian is outlined by Paul in Romans.
From Romans 1 to Ch. 5:11, it is Christ’s death for us, to deliver us from our sins - our guilt is met; from Ch. 5:11 to chap. 8, it is deliverance from sin, the flesh within. Here it is our death with Christ. Not a word about demons. When demonic powers are mentioned relative to a Christian, we are to put on the whole armour of God – see Ephesians 6:10-16. Not a word about casting out spirits from believers nor binding Satan. An un-clean spirit cannot co-exist in a person with the Holy Spirit. That would be an affront to the latter.
As an aside - when people talk about binding Satan, I ask: “When do you loose him?” When the Lord speaks about binding, He also speaks about “loosing” in the same breath. I deal with that at
Now, let us consider the unclean spirit in Matt. 12:43-45. To understand the Word, we need to look at the context. The leaders of Israel had charged the Lord with casting out demons by the prince of demons. This was a turning point - He was indeed rejected because he now begins to speak to them in parables, as prophesied by Isaiah. See also Matt. 13:10-18 where the Lord explains the reason.
In chapter 12:43 He refers to the – not “an” - unclean spirit. More later. >
Israel, via their leaders, had unequivocally rejected Him, so He uses the expression the man, not “a” man. In the allegory He is speaking indeed of Israel as a nation. This occurs also in the Old Testament. Sometimes the ten tribes, and sometimes even the twelve tribes, are designated by “Ephraim”. The elders of Ephraim gained great influ-ence – “When Ephraim spoke there was tremb-ling” Hosea 13:1. Thus the man’s name is often used to represent the whole nation in the same way we say “Canberra” to represent Australia because Canberra is the seat of government.
When Judah was carried captive for 70 years, it was the “broom of Babylon” that swept Israel clean of idolatry. Nor was there any when the Jesus came – it had been “swept and adorned”. But a time is coming when the temple will be rebuilt and “the abomin-ation of desolation” will be installed there - see Matt. 24:15. The word “abomination” refers to an “idol”.
This links with “the man of sin” in 2 Thess. 2:3-4, who exalts himself… and “he himself sits down in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”. This is a condition far worse than that prior to the Babylonian captivity.
All this is involved in the seven spirits worse than himself in Matt. 12. Seven, as we know, symbolizes perfection, in good or evil.
The Lord concludes His teaching in Matthew 12:45 with: “Thus shall it be to this wicked generation”. It is a generation He is speaking about, not an individual, and certainly not a Christian.
I do not go into proving that a generation can be more than a span of 25 years or so. Here He refers to that character of unbelief that will exist right up until those end times.
M.M. September 2014