WHAT LIES WITHIN
Father, you are my hope and joy. Give me a vision of your truth and an assurance of your love.
Read MATTHEW 12:22–37
Jesus and Beelzebul
22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord.’1 How pleasing to God have your words been recently?
Most people recognize that the old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is untrue: we have all been hurt by others’ words. In today’s reading the Pharisees have some shockingly malicious things to say about Jesus, which he takes extremely seriously.
The Pharisees had witnessed Jesus perform an exorcism that amazed the crowd, yet they would not accept this was of God. Instead they tried to explain it away by claiming that Jesus was in league with the devil (Beelzebul, v 24). They could not bring themselves to admit that this miracle was done in God’s power, because that would have meant accepting that Jesus really was the Messiah – something they did not want to do. This is why Jesus calls out their behavior as sin against the Holy Spirit, unforgivable because they denied that God’s Spirit was at work through Jesus even though they could clearly see that it was.
Jesus goes on to warn that their false words will have serious consequences, for what comes from the mouth reflects what a person is really like inside and they will have to give an account before God about everything they have said. There is a warning for us here, too, that it is not just our actions that count but our words as well. However, this is not something we can change simply by trying hard to control our tongue. Despite our best efforts, the real us will be revealed through the words that slip out of our mouths in unguarded moments. We need, instead, to get to the root of the problem and ask God for help with the insecurity, jealousy, bitterness, fear etc. that lie at the heart of our unpleasant comments and angry retorts. Only God can cleanse us from within.
What have you said recently that has not been pleasing to God? What lies at the heart of those words? Do you need God’s help and healing with those issues?
Thank you Lord Jesus that you defeated Satan in the wilderness. By the Holy Spirit you overcame temptation. I thank you that the same Holy Spirit can lead me to victory.
1 Ps 19:14