A kingdom or house divided; binding the strong one
Matthew 12:22–30 (and Mark 3:22–27, Luke 11:15–23)
Then one demon-possessed was brought to Him, blind and mute; and He cured him, so that the blind and mute both spoke and saw. And all the crowds were amazed, and said, “Is not this the Son of David?” But the Pharisees hearing said, “This Man does not cast out demons except by Beelzeboul, the ruler of the demons.”3
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said to them,4 “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzeboul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons in the spirit of God, certainly the kingdom of God has come upon you.
“Or how can anyone enter into the house of the strong one and plunder his vessels, unless he first bind the strong one? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.”
AE 586. “Demons” are evil cupidities, because by “demons” infernal spirits are meant, and all spirits that are in the hells are nothing but evil cupidities. For all spirits that are in the hells, as well as all angels in the heavens, are from the human race; and every man after death becomes such as his life has been in the world, consequently such as his affection has been. Therefore after death man is wholly his affection, a good man the affection of good and truth, and an evil man the affection of evil and falsity. Moreover, every man after death thinks, wills, speaks, and acts in accordance with his affection. The affection of evil and falsity is what is called cupidity, and is what is signified by “demon.”
Satan, Beelzeboul; the spirit and kingdom of God
AE 740:10. Here the term “Satan,” and not devil is used, because “Beelzeboul,” who was the god of Ekron, means the god of all falsities, for “Beelzeboul” by derivation means the god of flies, and “flies” signify the falsities of the sensual man, thus falsities of every kind. This is why Beelzeboul is called Satan. So, too, the Lord said, “If I in the spirit of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you;” “the spirit of God” meaning Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and “the kingdom of God” thence signifying heaven and the church that are in Divine truths.
Evil and good are opposites.
DP 221. Man is admitted interiorly into truths of faith and into goods of charity only so far as he can be kept in them until the end of his life....
- A man may be admitted into the wisdom of spiritual things, and also into a love for them, and yet not be reformed.
- If he afterwards recedes from them, and passes over into the opposite, he profanes holy things.
- There are many kinds of profanation, but this is the worst kind of all.
- Therefore the Lord admits man interiorly into the truths of wisdom and at the same time into the goods of love only so far as he can be kept in them until the end of his life.
DP 233:2. It may be seen by the rational man without explanation that evil with its falsity cannot exist in man's interiors and at the same time good with its truth; for evil is the opposite of good, and good is the opposite of evil, and two opposites cannot exist together. Moreover, there is in all evil an inherent hatred of good, and there is in all good an inherent love of protecting itself against evil and removing it from itself. Therefore it follows that one cannot be together with the other. If they were together there would arise first conflict and combat, and then destruction, as the Lord also teaches in [these parables].
Two opposites cannot exist together in one substance or form without its being torn asunder and destroyed. If one should advance and draw near to the other, they would certainly keep themselves apart like two enemies, one of whom would retire within his camp or fortifications, and the other would remain outside. This happens with the evil and the good in a hypocrite. He harbors both, but the evil is within and the good is without, and thus the two are separate and are not mingled. From this it is now clear that evil with its falsity and good with its truth cannot exist together.
3 See Matthew 9:32–34 for a similar story.
4 Mark 3:23: “And He called to them and said to them in parables....”
Questions and Comments
- Abraham Lincoln quoted these verses in a speech in 1858, saying that we could not continue as one kingdom partly slave-holding and partly free. Do you see another such fundamental issue over which this nation is in danger of being brought to desolation?
- What might be a present-day analogy to being demon-possessed, that is, possessed by evil cupidities or a false ideology? Can you see how such a state would make someone spiritually blind and mute, unable to see and acknowledge the Lord?
- Who is “the strong one”? Who is strong enough to bind him? What might be meant by his vessels being plundered? Were they rightfully his vessels?
- We have such mixed motives! How does the Lord keep good and evil separate in us?