"Neutrality Is Impossible"
P. G. Mathew | Monday, July 31, 1995
Copyright © 1995, P. G. Mathew
Heavenly Father, without your opening our eyes we remain blind, incapable of seeing you in your Son, Jesus Christ. Unless you open our ears, we remain deaf, incapable of hearing the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you do not give us life, we remain dead - dead in trespasses and sins. We remain enemies of God, ungodly, without strength, sinners, damned to an eternal damnation. So, O God, we pray that you by your Holy Spirit open our eyes and our ears. Give us life! Open our mouths that we may celebrate your salvation. O God. Give us hunger, that we may feed on your Son, Jesus Christ, the heavenly manna. Give us thirst, O God, that we may drink of the living water which may remain in us as a fountain, bubbling up into eternal life. O God, perform your miracles in the midst of us. Thank you that in Jesus Christ you have bound Satan and you are liberating his captives and setting them free. Even this morning, O God, we pray that you set the captives free. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I want to speak on the subject, "Neutrality is Impossible." I want to speak concerning three reactions to this miracle that is recorded in Matthew 12:22-37. This miracle that revealed that Jesus Christ is the Son of David, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and that in Jesus Christ truly the kingdom of God has come.
According to Jesus Christ there are only two kingdoms - the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, a kingdom of good and a kingdom of evil. We read in this passage that someone brought to Jesus a demonized person who was blind and mute. We are not told who brought this man to Jesus, but we praise God for the love that was shown to him by his friends. He could not have come to Jesus by himself because he was demon-possessed. He was blind, mute and, theologically, a sinner, meaning he was suffering from total inability to love God. How can he have come himself? So those who brought him to Jesus knew that Jesus is a Savior of sinners. Not only that, they loved this despicable man.
Let me ask you: Do you know Jesus as the Savior of the world? Do you love sinners who are subjects of Satan and are spiritually blind and mute? They are all around us. They include our friends and relatives. No one may give you credit for bringing sinners to Jesus, but one day Jesus will recognize your part in the salvation of the lost. No one can save sinners but Jesus alone, but every friend of Jesus can introduce sinners to him. Jesus, we learn from the Scriptures, loves sinners. He is a friend of sinners. He died for sinners. So you notice that this Jesus cast the demon out from this man, and instantly the blind saw and the mute began to speak.
The first person this blind person saw, I believe, was Jesus. The first words he spoke, I suppose, were these words: "Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord, for making me whole. Thank you, Lord, for giving to me such rich salvation, full and free." I am sure those who brought him to Jesus Christ also rejoiced with inexpressible joy as this man was saved and healed. And their faith in Jesus Christ grew as they saw another demonstration of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
So, there are only two kingdoms, and people belong to one or the other. But the truth is that once all people belonged to the kingdom of the evil one, for the Bible says all have sinned, all are blind, all are mute, all are governed by the spirit of the power of this age, which St. Paul calls the spirit of disobedience, the spirit of rebellion. All are dead in trespasses and sins. All are enemies of the good. All are without strength to save themselves. All are ungodly. This picture the Scripture gives us of fallen man is not very good. How, then, can anyone be saved unless God loves the world of sinners and makes them able to know who Jesus is and enables them to trust him for their eternal salvation?
So the question is, Who is this Jesus? Who is this Son of Man? "Who do you say that the Son of Man is?" Jesus asked once. Who do you say that Jesus is? Every true believer in Jesus is given spiritual understanding by the Father to answer that question correctly as Peter did when he confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." In the Scriptures we see a mysterious thing, that God conceals, on the one hand, and reveals, on the other. He hides the kingdom of God from the wise, the prudent, the competent, the great, the powerful and the mighty, but he reveals it to the babes and the infants. This is mysterious but it is very real. So all who believe in Jesus Christ believe and are saved because to them God reveals the nature of his kingdom and the nature of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Satan is pictured in this passage, as well as in Luke 11:21-22 as a strong man. All sinners are pictured here as his goods in his house. Satan is fully armed and he is guarding his goods, the subjects of his kingdom. Your unbelieving mother, father, brother, sister and friends are all his goods, which he is guarding with all his might. Satan controls them. No one can get out, and no one wants to get out. Escape from the kingdom of Satan is utterly impossible. No one has ever gotten out of his prison yet. His goods are safe as long as no one stronger than Satan comes to war against Satan's kingdom. But thank God, there is one sent by God the Father for the singular purpose of warring against the strong one, Satan. The purpose of Christ's incarnation was to war against Satan, defeat him completely and set certain captives free. In Jesus Christ the kingdom of God, the rule of God, the authority of God, the power of God came against the kingdom and power and authority of the evil one. Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit for the specific purpose of warring against the kingdom of the evil one. The Spirit of the Lord was upon him to give sight to the blind, to raise the dead, to cast out demons, to cleanse the lepers, and above all, to announce the gospel of the kingdom of God. So he said, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is near."
In John 12, beginning with verse 31, Jesus Christ said, "'Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.'" All there means all who are chosen from the foundation of the world for salvation, all those who are presently under the control of Satan. In 1 John 3:8 John again gives us the reason for the incarnation of Jesus Christ. "He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." The devil's work included the work of sin, disease, war, poverty, conflict, divorce, depression and misery of every kind, death, hell, malice, envy, works of the flesh and sexual immorality. Jesus Christ came to destroy every kind of evil work of the evil one.
And the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 2, verse 14-15, "Since the children have flesh and blood he too" - that is, Jesus Christ - "shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Paul says the same thing in Colossians 2:15: "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, [Jesus Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Jesus Christ came to crush the head of the serpent as was promised long ago. PGM We read in Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and yours; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
So, the stronger one has come in Jesus Christ. He has bound the strong man. He disarmed him. He confronted him during temptation, and Satan was defeated. He confronted him at every miracle and Satan was defeated. Finally, he confronted him on the cross and Satan was defeated once and forever. Jesus bound the strong man. He disarmed him, and therefore Jesus Christ alone is able to set the captives of Satan free.
The demonized man was Satan's captive but God's elect. Jesus set him free. No sinner can set himself free, but Jesus can set any sinner free. He is able to save to the uttermost. The stronger one has come. The kingdom of God has come. Salvation to the captives has come. His people are being set free. They confess him now. They rejoice now. They worship him now. They proclaim his salvation now. So, this is one reaction to this miracle. It is the reaction of the believers, the reaction of the friends of Jesus Christ.
There is another reaction, which is the reaction of the crowd, who also saw this amazing miracle. In one moment the man was demonized and violent, deaf, blind and mute, but instantly the demon came out by the authority of Christ and by the authority of this kingdom of God, and now this man is seeing and speaking and well and saved.
What was the reaction of the crowd? Verse 23 says, "All the people were astonished." This crowd was always looking for a kick, for a thrill, for an astonishing event. And they asked, "'Could this be the Son of David?'" It was a question. It was not a statement or a confession. It was a question. There was always a crowd with Jesus. They sought news. They sought excitement. They sought to be amazed. They sought thrills. They didn't seem to realize their own needs. They seemed to be self-sufficient. They followed Jesus but not as his disciples. They wanted to be fed with bread. They wanted a political Messiah who would increase the monies in their pockets, who would give them political victory and power.
So look at the reaction of the crowd. They saw the miracle. They saw the demonized, violent man brought to Jesus by his friends who believed in Jesus. They saw with their own eyes Jesus casting out demons and healing him. They saw his eyes being opened. They heard him speak and thank Jesus for healing him. Yet they do not believe in him. They have questions and doubts. They will not directly assert that Jesus is the Son of David. Why? Because when you directly make that assertion, when you confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, you are inviting the animosity and enmity of Satan and the world. So, they question whether Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, or the Savior. Contrast them with the two blind men in Matthew 9: 27. These men called upon and confessed this Jesus Christ as the Son of David. You see the same thing from blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:47-48. He calls, "Jesus Christ, Son of David!" That's confession! In the midst of the world, when other people refuse to confess him, these confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of David. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. He is the Messiah.
But the crowd will not do that. They don't want to decide. They prefer neutrality, saying, "Maybe this one is the Messiah, but maybe this one is not the Messiah. Maybe someone else is the Messiah." Remember, even John the Baptist had this problem and he sent his disciples to Jesus in Matthew, chapter 11. Jesus Christ pointed to his miracles and he told them, "This is it. I am the Messiah." But these people prefer saying, "Maybe this one is the Messiah; maybe this one is not the Messiah. Maybe some cult leader is the Messiah. Maybe some guru in India is the Messiah. Maybe there are many Messiahs." This is sitting on the fence. This is a very comfortable condition. Some people think this is the best condition to be in, where you can have the world and the world to come, so to speak. Having seen the miracles and having heard the teaching of Jesus, having heard his own statement that in him the kingdom of God has come, having heard that he is stronger than Satan, the crowd still prefers to be doubtful. There are many, many people like this crowd. They are given sufficient understanding of who Jesus is. There is a Bible that tells us who Jesus is. Yet these people doubt and sit. They don't act like enemies of Jesus Christ. Oh, no! They don't take up stones to kill him. They may not even mock him. But they will not confess. They will not repent. They will not trust him for their salvation.
Such people must realize that when it comes to Jesus Christ, neutrality is impossible. You must decide either for or against him. Not to decide for him is to decide against him. Jesus came to divide humanity into two. These scriptures that tell us clearly that Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth, and to love and hug and take care of everybody. Matthew 10:34 and following says, "'Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to turn "a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,"'" etc. In Luke 2:35 Simeon prophesies about Jesus Christ, saying he will be "a sign that will be spoke against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. This Jesus Christ will reveal the thoughts of many people as they begin to make their decision for and against Jesus Christ. In Luke 12:52 we read, "'From now on there will five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.'" They will be divided in terms of whether they have a relationship with Jesus Christ or not.
You cannot sit on the fence! There cannot be any neutrality when it comes to Jesus Christ. We read in Deuteronomy 30:19, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Joshua said the same thing in Joshua 24:15, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your forefathers or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and for my household, we will serve the Lord." Elijah said the same thing. In 1 Kings 18:21 we read this: "Elijah went before the people and said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions?'" What are these two opinions? Maybe he is the Messiah, or maybe he is not the Messiah. Maybe Jehovah is Lord, or maybe Baal is Lord. They think it's a good position to be in. "'If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.'" But, notice, it says, "But the people said nothing." They like this comfortable position of "neutrality." They think it is possible. Look at Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Concerning her Jesus said, "'But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
So I am saying that the neutrality idea of the crowd is an impossibility. They think it is a comfortable situation. They don't have to take a clear stand for Jesus Christ and put themselves in trouble with Satan and the world. But they do not realize their greatest need, which is their need of a Savior. They do not realize that soon they will die and enter into a destiny of doom. They are under the rule of this Satan. They are in the empire of the evil one, and to such people I say, "Wake up! Realize that there is a stronger one who has come - Jesus Christ. He has bound Satan. He is even now freeing his captives. It is time that you decided that you trust in Christ. He is the Son of David, the Messiah, the only one who is able to save sinners."
What was the reaction of the Pharisees? It is stated in Matthew 12:24: "But when the Pharisees heard this they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'" The Pharisees and scribes were the ecclesiastical authorities who came down to Galilee to warn people about this false prophet, Jesus. They also came so that they could level certain charges in the Sanhedrin against Jesus Christ. They heard his teachings. They saw with their own eyes his remarkable and irrefutable miracles. Even in prison John the Baptist heard what Jesus was doing. In Matthew 11:4 "Jesus replied, 'Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.'"
So there was evidence. Evidence after evidence was given to the Pharisees and the scribes. But they were envious of Jesus, and despite all the evidence they decided against Jesus. They treated Jesus with absolute contempt, and this comes out very clearly in the Greek, as they called Jesus "this fellow." This fellow. This fellow, who does not keep the traditions of the elders, this fellow who eats with sinners - this fellow is not the Messiah. He cannot be the Son of God. He is crazy. He is demon-possessed. He is a glutton. He is a wine-bibber. He is a Samaritan. He is a fraud. He is a false prophet.
This was an irrefutable miracle, which they didn't question. They never questioned the fact that Christ has performed miraculous things. But now, with their twisted minds, they came to the opposite conclusion, that Jesus did this miracle by the power of Satan. Yes, they saw this remarkable miracle of casting out the demon and healing this blind and mute man, but their minds were twisted. Their minds were made up. "Yes," they said, "there was a remarkable miracle, but this fellow casts out demons by the power of the chief of demons."
And now you notice that Jesus enters into a devastating dialogue with the Pharisees. He makes this point: "'An empire divided against itself cannot stand.'" That's a fundamental principle, that whether it is an empire, or a city, or a house, if it is divided against itself, it will not stand. So what Jesus Christ is really saying is, "Don't think that Satan is stupid. Satan is intelligent, and he will not let anyone in his kingdom to oppose him, let alone he opposing himself. That is a stupid argument."
Secondly, he says to the Pharisees, "You are hypocrites and inconsistent. You commend your own disciples for casting out demons. You say that they cast out demons by divine power and yet, being hypocrites, you come to me and say that I cast out demons by Satanic power."
Thirdly, he said, "You are obscuring the truth, Mr. Pharisee, Mr. Hypocrite." In clear language Jesus said, "I cast out demons by the Spirit of God and not by the evil spirit." And then he draws this amazing conclusion: "Therefore, the kingdom of God has come upon you. Satan is being defeated. His kingdom is crumbling. You must decide now, but you have decided against me." Then he said, "A bad tree brings forth bad fruit." You can tell what kind of fruit is going to come by looking at the nature of the tree. A bad heart brings forth bad words. So, Jesus Christ was saying there was in them total inability to bring forth anything good because their being was bad.
Then Jesus said, "How can you, who are evil, say anything good? It is an impossibility!" And now, listen to the language of Jesus Christ, and you get a different idea of who Jesus is. He is not just a nice person. He is also the judge. He says, "You offspring of vipers!" That's bad language. By any account, it is bad language. And these people deserved it. The idea came straight from Genesis 3:15, that those who do evil are the offspring of the snake, of Satan.
"The truth is," Jesus said, "you are the tools of Satan. Not I, but you are the tools of Satan. Even now Satan is using you to oppose the kingdom of God. You are against me, so I am against you. The kingdom of God came upon you, not to save you but to damn you, destroy you and not save you at all." But like Pharaoh, these would not be saved. They would not believe. They would not repent. They loved Satan. They served Satan. Jesus came in his kingdom upon them in the sense of being against them. They were like Judas. In John 13:2 you see how Satan prompted him, and in verse 27, how Satan went into him. People are tools of Satan.
The kingdom of God will be taken away from such people. What is the kingdom of God? It is life, hope, righteousness, peace and joy indescribable. It is salvation, the realm of salvation. It is the realm of light. But it will be taken away from you. The builders, the authorities, rejected this stone, but it has become the capstone. This is the Lord's doing. Those who trust in this stone will be saved, but those upon whom this stone falls, Jesus said in Matthew 21, will be crushed.
In Daniel 2:34, Daniel saw this: "While you were watching," Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, "a rock" which stands for the kingdom of God, for power, for strength, for might and for authority,- "was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them." The kingdom of God has come upon you! The kingdom of God in Jesus Christ is coming upon all rebellious powers who are opposed to him. All rebellion shall be crushed, and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God the Father.
All Pharisees and scribes and all their friends who decide against Jesus will find in Jesus an enemy who judges them to their eternal destruction. In Revelation 20:10 you see God throwing the serpent into the lake of fire. In Revelation 20:14-15 we see God throwing all who served Satan into the same lake of fire. The kingdom of God has come upon them.
What is the conclusion? First, there are those who decide against Jesus. You can tell them everything. You can prove it to them. You can preach to them. You can show his irrefutable miracles. You can tell them the claims that Jesus Christ made. You can tell them that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. You can tell them Jesus Christ is seated on the right hand of God the Father and he is coming again to judge the world. Nothing will make them change their minds. They are against Jesus Christ, against God's Son, but they are for Satan. Have you seen them? You tell them, you plead with them, but they will not pay any attention. They are nice and sophisticated. They are scientists, lawyers, and judges. They make money and live in nice sections and in bad sections. But they will not be saved.
Look at Matthew 12:32. Jesus says this is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and it shall not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come. In verse 36 of Matthew 12 he says, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment. . ." So he reminds us that there is a day of judgment.
So, you have pleaded with your mother, your father, your brother, your friends - and I exhort you to continue to plead with them - but you must understand that there are some who are damned and who will not believe in the gospel. They have decided against Jesus Christ, against all the overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the King of kings, the Son of David, the Lord of lords.
Secondly, there are those who are fence-sitting people, the crowd, the thrill-seekers, those looking for excitement. They go to church all right, but they always ask questions of this sort: "Can this possibly be the Son of David?" They will never affirm it, like blind Bartimaeus, and say, "Save me, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David!" They doubt, and I say to such people that all proof necessary is given to you in the Bible for you to be convinced that Jesus is the Son of David, the King of kings and Lord of lords; that Jesus Christ is God; that in him the kingdom of God has come into this world; that he truly has defeated Satan and all his kingdom, and that even now he is liberating people who have been kept captives by Satan.
Jesus has defeated Satan. He has bound him and disarmed him forever. He is setting the captives free, and he says, "Therefore I say to them, 'Come out and be free.'" To this purpose Jesus Christ himself commissioned St. Paul, and we read in Acts 26:17-18, "I am sending you to them" - for what purpose? "to open their eyes," meaning spiritual eyes "and to turn them from their darkness to light." The kingdom of God is light. The kingdom of Satan is darkness. Then he continues, "and turn them from the power," from the authority, from the kingdom "of Satan to God." That's evangelism.
Therefore, if you are a fence-sitter, just one among the crowd; if you like the comfort of many people and are a thrill-seeker, who never comes to a place of decision, I say, "Wake up! Come out of the crowd! Stand up! Come forward and say, 'I confess today that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He alone is able to save me. O Lord Jesus Christ, save me!'"
Thirdly, look at the reaction of those who are believers, of those who brought this sinner to Christ. This sinner was saved, and joined the company of believers. You can imagine the joy! Rejoice in your salvation! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, rejoice! And if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will not then sit down. You will go to sinners and bring them to Jesus Christ. Rejoice in your salvation, and proclaim this to the nations, the Bible says. Tell them the kingdom of God has come. Satan has been defeated by Jesus Christ! Tell them to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved forever. Tell them to come out from darkness into the glorious light, from death to life. From misery and fear and wretchedness, come into the realm of peace forever.
The Bible says, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." Time is running out. And time is being registered in your persons. Just like it is registered in a tree, it is registered in you. Soon we all will die, and I urge you and plead with you to trust in Christ. Truly Jesus Christ is the Son of David. He is the Messiah. He is the one anointed to deliver us and liberate us. Trust in Christ and be honest, sincere, determined and purposeful about it.
Don't ever receive Jesus Christ in order to make money. That would mean you value money more than Jesus Christ. That is the most prominent gospel today in this country and around the world, that "I will do anything as long as it will give me money, health and all that." No, that is an affront to God. That is treating Jesus Christ with contempt. Jesus Christ is offering us something greater than money, more than political freedom, more than health of our bodies. He alone offers us liberation from the clutches of Satan. He alone raises the dead. He alone takes us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Heavenly Father, we pray that you have mercy upon us. We are very sorrowful to see that there are certain people who will not believe. No matter how much evidence is given to them, they are lovers of Satan and tools of Satan. They are like Pharaoh. They will not believe. Lord, this causes us to be fearful and tremble, because the kingdom of God is coming upon them with such power and force that they will be crushed.
So, O God, we cannot pray for their salvation, but we pray for the crowds. O God, have mercy upon them and tell them that they cannot remain neutral. They must decide because Jesus said, there is "he who is against me and he who is with me." There is no third position. Either we are with Jesus or we are against Jesus. Not to decide is to decide. O God, have mercy upon any who have not sought this great salvation in Jesus Christ. Have mercy upon such people, O God. We know that they cannot come, they cannot pray, they cannot believe, they cannot repent because of the evil being of us. They are like bad trees, and they can only produce bad fruit unless God makes bad trees good by divine regeneration. And you are able to do that. You have done it in our lives.
So we pray, O God, make bad trees good. Make bad hearts into good hearts, that they may trust in you and your Son, Jesus Christ, that they may be saved. Hallelujah! We pray that you cast out this rule of Satan from people's lives. We pray that you open their eyes that they may see the kingdom of God and enter the kingdom of God, that they may see your Son Jesus Christ as the true Messiah, as the true God, as the one who loves sinners and saves sinners. We pray that you open their mouths, O Lord, that they may also join this person whom you have healed, that they may say, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord, for making me whole. Thank you, Lord, for giving to me thy great salvation, so rich and so free." We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our only Lord. Amen.
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Copyright © 1995, P. G. Mathew
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