The Master of the Argument
December 7, 2020
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you (Mat 12:27-28).
There are a number of techniques Jesus used to counter the arguments of the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. The primary argument was to simply tell the truth and let the truth stand on its own merit. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matthew 5:37). Too often we make a trap for ourselves by trying to justify the truth with arguments that actually weaken it.
Another technique Jesus used is given in our text - turning the argument back on those who present it. Put simply, the Pharisees’ theology stated that only God had the power to counter Satan and his demons. If Jesus was a servant of Satan, casting out demons would have weakened the house of Satan. Simple logic based on accepted doctrine. But if Jesus casts out demons by the power of Satan, by whose authority do the disciples of the Pharisees cast out demons? A basic principle of argumentation - turning the argument back on the Pharisees.
Jesus was not satisfied by showing the Pharisees the absurdity of their argument. He wanted to nail the argument down by showing them that the basis of their accusation might as well be applied to them as to Him. The Pharisees taught and encouraged their own disciples as Jesus did His. If their criticism of Jesus is true that a man who casts out demons must be in league with Satan, then their disciples must have been in league with Satan as well, making them guilty of spiritual treason. The Pharisees must either give up this line of argument, or admit that the power and authority of Jesus is proof of God’s assistance and approval.
Based on Jesus’ counter argument, the disciples of the Pharisees stand as judges against their mentors and condemn them by their own argument. They are irrefutable witnesses against their faulty reasoning. On the other hand, since Jesus casts out demons by the power and authority of God, the Pharisees had to admit that the Kingdom of God has come and Jesus is the administrator of that Kingdom - they have to accept Jesus for who He truly is. In this Jesus embraced His own words to His disciples, Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). And so must we be in the culture we live in today.
“Father, it is easy to get caught up in the heat of debate and argumentation, especially with those who are servants of Satan. Remind me that the simplicity of the Gospel is powerful and is the best argument for who we are and the ministries we perform. Help me to be calm, patient, and wise in giving everyone the reason for the hope that lies within me. To the honor and praise of Jesus Christ I ask, Amen.”