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Lent 3 – Luke 11:14-28

by pastorjuhl ~ March 6th, 2013

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Nothing beats a clean house. In my house, we do everything possible to clean up the place before we go out of town. After a few days of living out of a suitcase, it’s nice to come home to a house swept clean with everything in its place. Even if you are not going anywhere, putting things away and having everything in order is a good way to live.

Your house, your body, was swept clean in Holy Baptism. You were washed and sanctified. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Unclean spirits were cast out in order to make room for the Holy Spirit. However, an unclean spirit can find a home in a house swept clean. It passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.

The redeemed body of a baptized Christian can easily take in the strong man of Satan and his minions. All it takes is neglecting the protection of Jesus Christ and His holy angels. All it takes is telling the Finger of God that saved you from sin, death, and hell to get lost. You can do this thing on your own. You don’t need the Lord’s help. He’s done the heavy lifting. Now it’s your turn to mop up and keep things tidy.

So you let Satan inside the house. Things can’t be all that bad. You hang with the devil for a while, and then when you’re ready for some old-time religion, you cast Satan aside for a while and welcome Christ back into the house. Jesus is welcomed just long enough to make everything all right, and then it’s time for Him to go until you need Him.

Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. You cannot give allegiance to the devil and to Christ. One must stay and the other must go. You can’t have them both around the house, deciding which one can come out of their room depending on what mood you’re in. As a Christian, you do not live like a Warner Brothers cartoon where a little cherub is on one shoulder whispering the good things you’re supposed to do in one ear while a forked-tail demon whispers naughty things in the other ear from your other shoulder.

Living in a divided household swept clean of the prince of darkness while clutching Christ like a good luck charm is not hedging your bet one way or another. Consider the cost of your salvation. Jesus Christ bled and died for your sins. Yet you treat His salvation as a part-time lover, turning to it at your convenience, while giving place to the devil when Jesus just won’t cut it. You pray Psalm 25, my eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted, but you pray this Psalm as a last resort. You’re tired of the devil hanging out and making life miserable so you need a break. Come on in, Lord. Cast Satan out of here for a while. When I grow tired of You, I’ll push you out and bring the devil back. I can only play goody-two-shoes for so long.

Your life this side of the grave is not a game. You may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God…. At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. You are either 100-percent child of darkness, or 100-percent child of light. Either you beat down Satan under your feet and rejoice in your baptism, or you cast Christ from your house and welcome Satan and the angels of darkness in Christ’s place. You can’t have it both ways according to what side of the bed you wake up.

Martin Luther’s battle hymn well portrays the battle for your soul:

With might of ours can naught be done,

Soon were our loss effected;

But for us fights the valiant One,

Whom God Himself elected.

Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is,

Of Sabaoth Lord,

And there’s none other God;

He holds the field forever.

By the way, “Sabaoth Lord” is not the same as “Sabbath Lord”. The word “Sabaoth” means “of hosts”. Jesus Christ is the Lord of Hosts. He is the Lord of heaven and earth, the Son of the Most High God. When He speaks, even demons and their prince must get out of the way. They are defeated. They know they are done for, but still they work hard to try to prove to you that being a child of God is worthless.

You know better, for Christ fights for you on the heavenly battlefield. He knows your name. He has called you by the Gospel. He has washed you clean in Holy Baptism. He knows those who are His. Jesus Christ has you in His mind when He crushes hell in His innocent suffering and death. He knows exactly who you are when He rises from the dead. This is not a “what are we fighting for” war. This war is the real deal. It is personal. Satan wants you. He can’t have you. You belong to Jesus, for Jesus holds the field forever.

The hard part remains until Judgment Day. The hard part is keeping Satan out of your clean house, where he wishes to sully the place with his lies. It’s easy to quit and push Jesus out the door. Resist the prowling lion who wants to devour you. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, believing that you are not alone in the struggle against hell. Jesus Christ fights for you. The Heavenly Host of angels and archangels fight for you.

The Finger of God that produced plagues against the Egyptians and showed the Israelites the way out of Egypt protects and defends you from the plague of Satan and points the way to eternal life. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He feeds you with the Bread of Life in His Word from pulpit and altar, even in His Supper. Your cries for mercy are answered in Jesus Christ, Who dies and lives for you and provides for every need of body and soul. Your house is swept clean of death. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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