Sermon 613. The Strong One Driven Out By A Stronger One
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 5, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"When a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcomehim, he takes from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divides his spoils. He that is not with Me is against Me: andhe that gathers not with Me scatters. When theunclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest. And finding none, he says, I will returnunto my house from where I came out. And when he comes, he finds it swept and garnished. Then goes he and takes to him sevenother spirits more wicked thanhimself; and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first." Luke 11:21-26.
THE Lord Jesus is ever in direct and open antagonism to Satan. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between yourseed and her seed," has been most emphatically fulfilled. Christ has never tolerated any truce or parley with the Evil Oneand never will. Whenever Christ strikes a blow atSatan, it is a real blow and not a feint and is meant to destroy, not to amend. He never asks Satan's help to subdue Satan-neverfights evil by evil-He uses the weapons which are not carnal, but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. And He uses themever with thisintention-not to dally with Satan, but to cut up his empire, root and branch. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,that He might destroy the works of the devil."
There is a deadly, implacable, infinite, eternal hatred between Christ and that sin of which Satan is the representative.No compromise can ever be thought of, no quarter will ever be allowed. The Lord will never turn from His purpose to bruiseSatan under His feet and to cast him into the lake offire. Therefore there was nothing more libelous than the assertion of certain Pharisees in Christ's day that He cast outdevils through Beelzebub, the Prince of devils! O base suggestion that the Lord of Glory was in league with the dunghill deity,the Prince of devils! He neverfights the Lord's battles with the devil's weapons! He has not the most distant affiance with evil! It is not possible thatHe should be the friend and patron of that spirit of unhallowed charity which for the sake of peace would give tolerance toerror.
No, Christ never allies Himself with Satan to advance the kingdom of God. He comes against him as a strong man armed, determinedto fight until He wins a decisive victory. We shall observe this more clearly as we open up the passage now before us. Ourtext presents us with a picture of man in hissinful state. Then it gives us a representation of man for a time reformed, but eventually subjected to the worst formsof evil. And it also shows us a graphic portrait of man, entirely conquered by the power of the great Redeemer.
I. First, WE SHALL ATTENTIVELY LOOK AT THE PICTURE OF MAN AS HE IS IN A STATE OF NATURE. "When a strong man armed keeps hispalace, his goods are in peace." Observe that although man's heart was intended to be the Throne of God, it has now becomethe palace of Satan-whereas Adam was theobedient servant of the Most High and his body was a temple for God's love, now, through the Fall, we have become the servantsof sin and our bodies have become the workshops of Satan.
"The spirit that now works in the children of disobedience." This spirit is called a strong man and truly so he is- who canstand against him? Like the monster in the book of Job, we may say of him, "Lay your hand upon him, remember the battle, dono more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain!Shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?" Though a thousand Philistines are smitten hip and thigh with a greatslaughter by Samson, the avenger of Israel, yet the strong man falls a victim to the stronger fiend.
That mighty hero, though he could rend a lion, was no match for the lion of the pit who overcame him to his shame and hurt.Solomon, the wisest of men, was outwitted by Satan, for his heart was led astray by the arch-tempter. Even he who was thesire of men was overthrown by this dread enemy in theearly days of innocence and happiness. He is so strong that if all of us should combine against him, Satan would laugh atus as Leviathan laughs at the shaking of the spear. Strong he is, not simply as possessing force, but in the sense of cunning.He knows how to adapt histemptations to our besetting sins. He discovers fitting times in which to assail us. He understands that there is a timewhen kings go forth to battle and he is ever ready for the fight.
He is a good swordsman. He knows every cut and guard and thrust and parry and he knows our weak places and the joints in ourharness. Christians who have ever stood foot to foot with him will give him credit for this-that he is strong, indeed. Andunbelievers who have at any time sought toresist his power in their own strength have soon been made to feel that their strength was perfect weakness. He is a strongman with a vengeance! Oh, Christian, well is it for you that there is a stronger than he-the might of Satan would crush youto your ruin if it were notthat the almighti-ness of Christ comes in to the rescue!
It is said of this strong man, moreover, that he is armed. Truly the Prince of the power of the air is never without weapons.His principal weapon is the lie. The sword of God's Spirit is the Truth, but the sword of the evil spirit is the lie. It wasby falsehood that he overthrew our race at firstand despoiled us of perfection. And it is with continued falsehoods, of which the lie is both the forger and the user, thathe continues to destroy the souls of men. He will tell the sinner sometimes that he is too young to think of death and ofeternal things. And when this weaponfails he will assure him that it is too late, for the day of Grace is over-
"He feeds our hopes with airy dreams. Or kills with slavish fear. And holds us still in wide extremes, Presumption, or despair.Now he persuades, 'Howeasy 'tis
To walk the road to Heaven!' Then he swells our sins and cries, 'They cannot be forgiven!'
Thus he supports his cruel throne By mischief and deceit, And drags the sons of Adam do wn To darkness and the pit."
He has a way of making the worse appear the better reason. He can put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter-make men believethat it is to their own advantage to do that which is causing their everlasting ruin. He can make men carry coals of firein their bosoms and dream that they shall notbe burned. He can make them dance upon the brink of Hell as though they were on the verge of Heaven. Alas, fools that weare, how readily do his lies prevail against us! Then he has the well-feathered arrows of pleasure. The strong man is armedwith the lusts of the flesh. Daintydalliances he offers to some-overflowing cups that sparkle to the eye he presents for others! Glittering wealth he givesto the avaricious and the trump of fame and all the smoke of applause he promises to others.
Weapons? Why, I cannot attempt to mention all the war-like implements of the Prince of the power of the air. He can hurl fierydarts as thick as hail. His breath kindles coals and a flame goes out of his mouth. When he raises himself up the mighty areafraid. Bunyan's half-inspired imaginationpictured him thus-"Now the monster was hideous to behold. He was clothed with scales like a fish (and they are his pride).He had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke and his mouth was as the mouth of alion."
He is well armed at every point and he knows how to arm his slave-the sinner, too. He will plate him from head to foot withmail and put weapons into his hands against which the puny might of Gospel ministers and of human conscience can never prevail.Then we are told that he wearsarmor-for we read that the stronger warrior, "takes from him all his armor wherein he trusted." Certain it is the evil spiritis well informed in that which is proof against all terrestrial steel. Prejudice, ignorance, evil education-all these arechain-armor with whichSatan girds himself.
A hard heart is the impenetrable breastplate which this evil spirit wears! A seared conscience becomes to him like leavesof brass. Living in sin is a helmet of iron. We know some who, through a long period of years, have harbored within them anevil spirit which seems to have no joints in itsharness at all. It were as easy to draw blood from granite as to reach some men's hearts-the demon who possesses them isnot to be wounded by our artillery. "His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a closed seal. His heart is as firmas a stone-yes, as hard asa piece of the nether millstone."
We have preached at such men, prayed for them, spoken sharply, spoken tenderly, assaulted them from every quarter, wooed themwith love Divine, thundered at them with the judgments of God and with the terrors of His Law. But the strong man is so completelymailed that as yet we have made noimpression upon him whatever. When we have struck him with such a blow that he seemed to reel, yet the armor has been thickenough to save him from a deadly wound. "The sword of him that strikes at him cannot hold, nor the spear, the dart, nor thecoat of mail. He thinks of iron asstraw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee-stones from slingshots are turned by him into stubble. Theflakes of his flesh are joined together-they are firm in themselves. They cannot be moved."
Notice, again, this strong man-besides being armed and plated with armor-is very watchful. It is said, "he keeps his palace."He keeps it like the faithful warden who with ceaseless tramp and sleepless eye holds watch upon the castle wall. He doesnot put on the armor to sleep in it.You may find sleeping saints, but never sleeping devils. The restless activity of fallen angels is something awful to contemplate-"theyrest not day nor night"-but like ravenous lions go about seeking their prey. When Satan enters a man's heart, he takes careto watchwhenever there is the slightest chance of the Truth of God coming in and driving him from his throne.
He puts a double guard on the person when he is under the sound of the Word. He will let you go to those places where theminister never attacks the conscience and never cries aloud against sin-for he feels that there his kingdom is not assailed.But wherever the true Gospel is preached andpreached with Divine power, hosts of devils are sure to gather, "Because," says Satan, "there is danger to my dominionsnow. I will set a double garrison to protect my citadel against the attack of God's Truth."
Beware, O saints, when the Lord, the Holy Spirit, is working, for the great enemy is certain to be doubly active at such seasons!He keeps his goods. How would I delight to catch him unawares, but this leviathan is not to be taken with a hook, nor is hisjaw to be bored through with a thorn. We maydrop a warning to the sinner here, we may speak the passing word of exhortation there, we may stand in the corner of yonderstreet and declare salvation, or we may occupy the pulpit in Jesus' name-we may use all the means which ingenuity can devise-butSatan is always asprompt as we are, having his unclean birds always ready to carry away any seeds that may be scattered upon the soil.
While men sleeps he sows tares, but he never slumbers himself. As Hugh Latimer used to say, he is the most industrious bishopin England. Other bishops may neglect their dioceses, but Satan, never! He is always making visitations and going from placeto place upon his evil business to watch afterhis black sheep. The sinner's heart must be carried away by storm if it is ever taken, for there is no hope of taking theEvil One by surprise. We have in the text a good reason given why Satan thus watches over the man whose heart he inhabits-becausehe considers the man tobe his property-"he keeps his goods."
They are not his in justice. Whatever goods there are in the house of manhood must belong to God who built the house and whointended to tenant it. But Satan makes up a claim and calls everything in the man his property. The man's memory he makesa storehouse for ill words and bad songs. The man'sjudgment he perverts so that the scales and weights are false. The man's love he sets on fire with coals of Hell and hisimagination he dazzles with foul delusions. All the powers of the man, Satan claims-"I will have his mouth-he shall swearfor me! I will have hiseyes-they shall wander after vanity! I will have his feet-they shall take him to the place of sinful amusement! I will havehis hands-he shall work for me and be my slave!"
The heart is hard and the conscience stupefied and therefore-
"Sin like a raging tyrant sits Upon his flinty throne, And all that's good is crushed to death, Beneath this heart of stone."
He claims the whole man to be his own. And it is amazing how readily his claim is allowed! Men fancy music in the chains withwhich Satan binds them and hug the fetters which he hangs upon them! Men cheerfully obey the Prince of Darkness and yet itis hard, ah, hard indeed, to bring the followersof Jesus to yield up their members in full obedience to the sweet Prince of Peace.
Nor is this all! Satan not only claims possession, but he claims sovereignty! You perceive it is said, "his palace." A palaceis usually the abode of a king-so Satan considers himself a great king when he dwells in the human heart. Divine Sovereigntyhas ever been the great target of Satan'sattacks, because he aspires to set up his own infernal sovereignty. His sway over men is imperial and his government despotic.When he takes possession of the human heart he says to his servant, "Go," and he goes. And to his captive, "Do this," andhe does it. He will not beregulated and ruled by reason, but he will have his own will obeyed in all its madness of rebellion. His declaration ismade in apish imitation of the great God. "Cannot I do as I will with my own." "I am, and there is none beside me."
To what extravagances of sovereignty will not Satan go with men! He will allure them to drunkenness-nor is that enough-hewill hurry them into delirium tremens. He will drive them out of their senses and urge them to lay violent hands upon themselves-no,he often covers hisvictims with their own blood shed by themselves! An old preacher took for his text, "When the devils entered into the swinethe whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea and perished in the waters." One of his points was, "The devildrives his hogs to a bad market."And there is much truth in the rough assertion-when he gets into men there is no telling where they will go.
Another point was, "They run hard whom the devil drives." Unto what extremities of sottish folly, cruelty and self-injurywill not men go when once Satan gains possession of them? Like Baal's priests they are cutting themselves with knives! Likethe Gadarene demoniac dwelling in tombs and wearingno clothes! Like the child in the Gospel sometimes cast into the fire and then into the water-such are men when the devilrules them. No king could ever walk in his palace and say, "All this is mine," with such pride as Satan when he walks throughthe heart of man! He canboastingly cry, "This man will fall down and worship me! He will sacrifice his comfort, his very life to me! He will drainmy cups and not refuse the poison in the dregs! He will go upon my service and not ask me whether death is to be the everlastingwages!"
Oh, that God had such willing servants, such joyful martyrs as those who obey the devil! You may see the devil's martyrs inevery gin palace-ragged, haggard and diseased. You may see them in the early morning shivering till the time shall come whenthey shall drink another dram ofHell-draught. You may see them in every moonlit street, waiting in the cold, damp mists of night to be offered up upon hisaltar to prostitute both body and soul to his unhallowed worship. You may see them in every hospital rotting into their graves-theirbones full of diseaseand their very blood polluted with a filthy taint of loathsomeness. You may see them, I say, all eager to sacrifice souland body as a whole burnt offering to be wholly consumed by the infernal fire-that they may serve Satan with their whole heart!Oh, that we were half asfaithful to God as the devil's servants are to him. The heart is well called Apollyon's palace, for he reigns with absolutedominion there. O eternal God, drive him out!
I must not leave this picture until you have observed that it is said, "while he keeps his palace, his goods are in peace."This is the most fearful sign in the whole affair. The man is quite undisturbed-conscience does not prick him- why shouldit? God does not alarm him-who isGod, that he should obey His voice? Thoughts of Hell never disturb him. "Peace, peace," says Satan, "it is well with younow-leave these bugbears to those who believe in them." The wrath of God, which abides on him, never frets him! When men aremortifying, they feel no painin the mortified member. Men who are stupefied with opium may be naked but they are not cold. They may have empty stomachs,but they are not hungry. They may be diseased in body but they do not feel the torment-they are drunk and know not their misery!
And so it is with the most of carnal men-nothing awakens them. The sermon is listened to with a remark upon the style of thespeaker, but the Truth of God is neglected. A judgment comes-the funeral bell tolls-a tear or two may be shed but they aresoon wiped away and the man goeshis way, like "the dog to his vomit and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." "I know nothing of what itis to be troubled in conscience," says one. "I am quite easy-I am as jolly as the days are long." I dare say you are-I wishyou were not! If you weredissatisfied with your old master, there would be some hope that you would leave him and return to your Father's house-butso long as you are content with the world and with the Prince who governs it, you will go on, on, on, to your own destruction!
Satan does with men as the sirens are fabled to have done with mariners. They sat upon the rocks and chanted songs so harmoniousthat no mariner, who once heard the sound, could ever resist the impulse to steer his ship towards them. So each vessel voyagingthat way was wrecked upon the rocksthrough their disastrous, but enchanting strain. Such is
Satan's voice-he lures to eternal ruin with the sweetest strains of infernal minstrelsy. He can play sonatas so inimitablyenchanting in their harmony that it is not in poor mortal flesh and blood, unaided by the Spirit of God, to stand againsttheir thrilling witchery.
This is the melodious note-"Peace, peace, peace, peace." O Sinner, if you were not a fool you would stop up your ears to thistreacherous lie! Forever blessed is that Sovereign Grace which has saved us from the enchantments of this destroyer! The tenantof the heart is called "an uncleanspirit." He is unclean, notwithstanding all the peace he gives you. I pray you not flatter yourself to the contrary. Heis ever the same, unchanged, unchangeable. Perhaps you tell me that you are not subject to any uncleanness. You say you donot drink nor swear, nor lie. Butremember, it is unclean to be unreconciled to God! It is unclean to be a stranger to Christ! It is unclean to disobey Godwho created you. And above all it is unclean not to love the Redeemer whose most precious blood has delivered His people fromtheir sins. At his best the devilis no better than a devil and the heart in which he dwells is no better than a den for a traitor to hide in.
Thus I have given you an outline interpretation of the text-it would need much time to fill up and bring out the whole ofits meaning.
II. Now let us notice THE PARTIAL REFORMATION HERE DESCRIBED. "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks throughdry places, seeking rest. And finding none, he says, I will return unto my house from where I came out. And when he comes,he finds it swept and garnished. Then goes he andtakes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself. And they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of thatman is worse than the first."
Observe, then, that in the case before us the unclean spirit goes out of his own free will. He is not turned out-there isno conflict-the house still remains his own property for it is written at the end of the twenty-fourth verse, "I will returnunto my house from where I came out." Heretires from his palace of his own free will, intending to return at his leisure or pleasure. There are some persons whoappear to be converted who think they are so and therefore make a profession and are cheerfully received into the ChristianChurch because their outward lifegives evidence of a very great and remarkable change.
I could now picture some who, to my great grief, come under my tearful observation. Some who were once with us, but have longsince arrived at the last end which was "worse than the first." When the unclean spirit goes out of a man he becomes quitedifferent from what he used to be. Very likely theshop that was open on the Sunday is now shut up. He turns his footsteps to the place where God's people meet for worship.He begins to pray, even sets up family prayer. He attends Prayer Meetings, feels some sort of enjoyment in the excitementof religion. He goes where the saintsgo and to a great extent in life he acts as they act. The unclean spirit is fairly gone out of the man and he is anotherman-though not a new creature in Christ Jesus.
But I have said there was no struggle about it. It was suddenly that the spirit went out and the man jumped into religion.There was no repentance, no conviction, no struggling against depravity, no weeping before the Lord in prayer and no lookingup to the Crucified Savior and reading pardon inHis wounds. There was no agonizing struggle after holiness, no wrestling with evil-joy came suddenly and the man thoughthimself saved. The man was a sinner yesterday and he appears to be a saint today-nobody knows how. You talk to him about thework of the Spirit in hissoul, convincing him of sin, breaking him with the hammer of the Law or by the power of the Cross, pounding him in pieces,compelling him to feel that his righteousness is filthy rags.
He does not understand you. The unclean spirit is gone out of the man and that is all. Why does the evil spirit leave a manfor a time? Has he not some hellish purpose in view? Certainly he has! I think it is often because he feels if he does notgo out he will be driven out, and he thinks that bygiving way for a time he will satisfy the conscience till he gets it lulled to sleep faster than ever. Thus he will stoopto conquer, retreat to draw his opponent into an ill position. He will allow his throne to shake so that he may reestablishhis dominion permanently. Moreover,he thinks that by letting the man indulge in a little religion for a time, and then turn aside from it he will make himpermanently skeptical so that he will hold him fast by the iron chain of infidelity and drag him down to Hell with that hookin his jaws.
Now, after a time it appears that the evil spirit returned. He could find no rest for himself except in the hearts of thewicked and therefore he came back. There is no opposition to his entrance, the door is not locked-or if it is he has the key.He comes in-there is no tenant, no manin possession-no other proprietor. He looks round and cries, "Here is my house. I left it when I took my walks abroad andI have come back and here it is ready for me." In due time the devil comes back to those persons who are reformed but notrenewed-who are changed butnot made new creatures in Christ Jesus.
But what does the devil see? First of all he sees the place to be empty. If it had been full he could not have entered again.If Jesus Christ had been at the door there would have been a very terrible struggle for a little time, but it would have endedin Satan being driven away in disgrace. But itis empty and therefore he quietly resumes his sway. The devil shouts his, "Halloa!" and there is an echo through every room,but no intruder starts up. "Is Christ here?" No answer. He goes outside and he looks at the lintel, for Christ's mark is sureto be there if Jesus is within."No mark of blood on the post. Christ is not here," he says. "It is empty, I will make myself at home." If Jesus had beenthere, though He had been hidden in a closet, yet when He came out He would claim possession and drive out the traitor andsay, "Be gone! This is no place foryou. I have bought it with My blood and I mean to possess it forever."
But it is empty and so Satan fills it with stores of evil. The next thing the fiend notices is that it is swept-as one says,"Swept, but never washed." Sweeping takes away the loose dirt-washing takes away all the filth. O to be washed in Jesus' blood!Here is a man whose house isswept-the loose sins are gone. He is not a drunkard, there is a pledge over the mantelpiece. He is no longer lustful-hehates that sin-or says he does, which is as much as the devil wants him to do. The place is swept so tidy, so neat, you wouldnot know him to bethe same man as he used to be. And he himself is so proud to think he has got his house so clean and he stands up at thethreshold as he meets the devil with a, "Good morning!"
And he says "I am not as other men are, I am neither an extortioner, nor a drunkard! Nor even as that Christian over yonderwho is not half what he ought to be-nor a fraction as consistent as I am." And as the devil looks round and finds the placeswept, he finds it garnished, too. The manhas bought some pictures-he has not real faith, but he has a fine picture of it over the fireplace. He has no love to theCross of Christ, but he has a very handsome crucifix hanging on the wall. He has no Divine Grace of the Spirit, but he hasa fine vase of flowers on thetable-of other people's experiences and other people's graces-and they smell tolerably sweet. There is a fireplace withoutfire, but there is one of the most handsome ornaments for the fireplace that was ever bought for money.
It is swept and garnished. Oh, the garnished people I have met!-garnished, sometimes, with almsgiving-at other times withlong-winded prayers! Garnished with the profession of zeal and the pretense of reverence! You will find a zealous Protestant-oh,so zealous-who would gointo fits at the sign of a cross and yet will commit fornication! Do you think such a case impossible? I know such a case.You find persons shocked because another boiled a teakettle on a Sunday, or insured his life, or assisted at a bazaar, whowill cheat and draw the eye teeth outof an orphan child, if they could get a sixpence by it! They are swept and garnished.
Walk in, Ladies and Gentlemen! Did you ever see a house so delightfully furnished as this? How elegant-how tasteful! Justso-but men may be damned tastefully and go to Hell respectably just as well as they can in a vulgar and debauched fashion!You see the whole, how it ends. Satan isvery pleased to find the place as it is, and thinking that this is too good for one, he goes abroad and asks in seven ofhis friends worse than himself-for some devils are worse than others. And they come in and hold high holiday in the man'ssoul. What do we mean by that?Why, we mean that such persons do really become more wicked, more hardened, more ungodly than they were before they professedto be Christians!
It is really a shocking thing that if you want to find a thoroughbred, out-and-out transgressor, you must find one who oncemade a profession of religion! When Satan wants a servant who will do anything and ask no questions-who will swallow camelsas well as gnats-he finds one that oncestood high in the Christian Church. If he can find one who used to sing Christ's song, that is the throat to sing the devil'ssong! If he can find one who once sat at the sacramental table, he will say, "This is the man to sit at the head of my banquetsand conduct my feasts forme." These renegades, these traitors, these Ahithophels, these Judases, these men who have known the Truth of God and havebeen once, in a manner, enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gifts and the powers of the world to come in a certainsense-and yet fallaway-these become like salt that is neither fit for the land nor yet for the dunghill-even men cast them out!
They are trees twice dead, plucked up by the roots-wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.Have I any such in this place, any who were once swept and garnished, into whom Satan has returned? My Friend, from my soulI pity you! What will be your portion? Nocommon Hell will be yours! Remember, there are re- served places in the pit and those are reserved for such as you are.Read the letter of Jude and you will there find that there are some for whom are reserved, "the blackness of darkness forever."
That is your case and this will be the aggravation of it-you sat at the Master's Table and you must now drink the cup of fire!You preached in Christ's courts but you must now give forth a dolorous sermon concerning your own apostasy! You sang God'spraises once-you must now howl outthe Miserere of the damned! You had a glimpse of Heaven- you shall now have a dread insight into Hell! You talked abouteternal life, you shall now feel eternal death-plunged in waves of flame, never to rise again, never to hope, never even todie, for to die were bliss.How dreadful shall your case be! In this world seven times worse than before, but in the world to come, damned, damned withan awful emphasis which common sinners cannot know. I pray God that these truths may make us watchful, make us careful lestwe be found hypocrites orself-deceived professors.
III. I turn to a much more pleasing duty, which is TO TAKE UP THE SAVIOR'S DESCRIPTION OF TRUE CONVERSION. "When a strongerthan he shall come upon him and overcome him, he takes from him all his armor wherein he trusted and divides his spoils."Now, observe here is a "stronger than he." This isnot the man, himself. The man is the house-the man is not so strong as the devil-who is this? This is Jesus Christ who comesby His Spirit into the heart of man! The Spirit of God is vastly superior to Satanic power, as much as the infinite CreatorHimself must ever besuperior to the finite creature.
He who made Satan knows how to lay at him with His sword so as to cut Rahab and wound the dragon. It is not, you see, theresult of the man's free will-it is not the result of the devil's free will, either. It is the result of a stronger than hecoming into the soul. As soon as the strongerthan he comes in there is a conflict. "He comes upon him," that is to say, He attacks him!
And ah, how vehemently does Christ lay to at the great enemy of souls! One sword-cut cuts away the plume of pride! Anotherblow takes away the comfort of sin a and another destroys the reigning power of sin. What a struggle there often is when manis worked upon by the Holy Spirit! With all thepower of prayer, with all the might of faith the poor soul struggles against Satan! Christ struggles with all the powerof His blood and the blessings of His Spirit and yet we know in some cases the arch fiend has been allowed to hold out fordays, for weeks, even for months becauseof the unbelief of the poor soul. "He could not do many mighty works there," it is written, "because of their unbelief."
This fight will sometimes grow so hot that the soul will choose strangling rather than life and yet the result of it is neverdoubtful! For notice in the text that the stronger than he overcomes at the last. Oh, well do I remember when the strongerthan Satan overcame in my soul! Five years, moreor less, was there a conflict. Sometimes my proud heart would not yield to Sovereign Grace. At another time a willful spiritwould go astray after vanity. But at last, when Jesus showed His wounds and said to me, "Look unto Me and be you saved, allthe ends of the earth," I couldhold out no longer and the evil spirit could resist no more!
The wounds of Christ had wounded the old dragon and the death of the Savior became the death of sin. Oh, there are many ofus who know what it is to be conquered, to be subdued by a power other than our own! And in every case there must be thisexperience, or there is no real life. Dear Hearer, ifyour religion grew in your own garden it is a weed and good for nothing! If your grace springs up as the result of yourown willing, your own acting, and your own seeking, it is good for nothing! Christ must seek you! It must be a power far aboveyou-mightier than you, farstronger than you and the devil put together-which must deliver you from your sins.
As soon as ever the stronger man has conquered the enemy, what does He do? He takes the sword of rebellion, snaps it acrossHis knee and pulls the armor from the back of the unclean spirit. Prejudice, ignorance, hard-heartedness-all these are pulledoff the old enemy. I think I seehim-I think I see the Savior stripping him to his shame and ejecting him from the heart with abhorrence. There, let himgo among the dry places and again seek rest and find none. Happy day! Happy day for the palace which he once defiled whenhe is cast out and cast outforever!
Christ Jesus then proceeds to divide the spoil. "There is the man's heart, I will take that," says He. "That shall be a jewelin My crown. The man's love I will set as a jewel upon My arm forever. His memory, his judgment, his power of thought, utteranceand working-these are all Mine," saysChrist. He begins to divide the spoil. He puts the broad arrow of the King upon every room in the house, upon every pieceof furniture. The garnishing He pulls out, "I will adorn it far better than this," He says. "There shall be no pictures offaith, but faith. There shall be noornament in yonder grate except the ornament of the glowing fire of fervid zeal. There shall be no borrowed flowers, butI will train round this window the sweet roses and jasmine of love and peace of mind.
"I will wash what was only swept, with My blood. I will make it white and sweet and clean. And I will strike the lintel andthe two side posts with the hyssop and with the blood mark-and then the destroying angel, when he sweeps by, shall sheathehis sword-and the black fiend, when hewould enter, shall see the mark there and go back trembling to his accursed den."
This is conversion, the other was only conviction! This is change of heart, the other was only change of life. I do trust,if you have been content with the former, you will now bestir yourselves and never be satisfied without the latter-
"O Sovereign Grace, my heart subdue, I would be led in triumph, too. Drive the old dragon from his seat, With all his hellishcrew."
Sinner, cry to the stronger than you are to come and help you. You groan under your slavery-I am thankful for it! Cry to theGreat Deliverer! He will come! He will come! Is there a conflict going on in you? Remember faith gets the victory. Look toJesus-look to Jesus and the battle iswon! Cast your poor spirit upon Jesus. Now burn that broom-it is of no use to go on sweeping! You need washing-washing withblood! Come, now, spare that money of yours with which you are going to buy garnishing-they are all rubbish! Buy no more.I counsel you buyof Him gold tried in the fire.
Come to His precious blood and be made really clean. Your Church-goings, your Chapel-goings, your prayers, your almsgivings,your fasting, your feelings, your good works are all nothing-so much dross and dung-if you try to sweep and garnish your housewith them. Cast them all away! Flyfrom your good works as you would from your bad ones! Do not expect to be saved by anything that you can feel that is goodany more than you would expect to be saved by anything that you feel that is bad-
"None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good."
My Lord Jesus, if You are passing by, traveling in the greatness of Your strength, come and show Your prowess! Turn aside,You heavenly Samson and rend the lion in this vineyard! If You have dipped Your robes in the blood of Your foes, come dyethem all again with the blood of my cruel sins! If Youhave trod the wine press of Jehovah's wrath and crushed Your enemies, here is another of the accursed crew! Come and draghim out and crush him! Here is an Agag in my heart, come and hew him in pieces! Here is a dragon in my spirit, break, O break,his head and set me free from myold state of sin! Deliver me from my fierce enemy and unto You shall be the praise, forever and ever. Amen.