Church of Christ
at
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3) Matthew 12:28 and following
Matthew 12:28 but if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons then is the kingdom of God come upon you.  Luke has
"finger of God" (Luke 11:20; see Exodus 8:19; Deuteronomy 9:10).  Here in the verse we have an explanation of His
mysterious power:  I cast out demons by the Spirit of God.  This is the reason why Jesus sounds the dreadful alarm
(Matthew 12:32) against blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

This is not merely an interesting, academic alternative; it is a direct warning that they have just been confronted with
the presence and power of the rule of God Himself.

Jesus refers to the tangible evidences that fairly shouted for all to hear that God was taking over from Satan!  Satan
is being bound even now!

Bind the strong man.  By His perfect submission to the will of the Father, Jesus had been tying Satan's hands ever
since the beginning of His ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).  Since Jesus refused to indulge Himself along the lines
suggested by Satan, the tempter found himself completely helpless, because the devil could not force Jesus to sin.  
By stating well within the will of God for man, Jesus was perfectly protected by the power of God that obliged Satan
to respect those limits.

But in this context, Jesus' argument assumes the fact that Satan has already been defeated, because His own
miracles prove it.  That is, if Jesus has already triumphed over demons, it is proof that He had defeated their master
as well.  Those Pharisees were standing in the presence of the Conqueror and Destroyer of Satan's dominion.

The reason the Son of God came into the world was to destroy the works of the devil! (1st John 3:5, Colossians
2:15, 1st John 4:4).  So, his argument is:  By the very fact that I am doing my best to unchain a demoniac enslaved
to Satan, I prove myself to be his enemy.  By succeeding I prove myself his Master.

His appeal is to the undecided in this audience.  If this expresses His intended application, then He insists that no
once can remain neutral when right and truth can be known.

Matthew 12:31 Therefore I say unto you.  If a man cannot recognize the good when he sees it, he cannot desire the
good.  If a man does not recognize the evil as being evil, he cannot be sorry for it, hate it and wish to depart from it.

So, Jesus says that this sin will absolutely never be forgiven.  It is difficult to imagine how He could have stated the
eternality of future punishment in more unequivocal terms.

The Pharisees had expressed the maliciousness in their hearts when they accused Jesus of having a secret alliance
with the Devil.  Jesus is perfectly justified in pointing out the true condition of their lives.

Jesus warned the skeptics of His day that a religion that only makes a man empty and unable even to discern the
obvious evidences of God's working in his own generation, is false, regardless of all else that might be said for it.  It
is incapable of filling life.

Their right to request this is the proper safeguard against imposture (Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
Because of the Mosaic regulations granted to the Jews on the importance and nature of supernatural credentials,
they were so ahead of the rest of the world that Paul could safely generalize, describing his people.  Jews demand
signs and Greeks seek wisdom (1st Corinthians 1:22).

In demanding of Jesus a sign, the scribes and Pharisees denied by implication that any of the multitude of signs
which He had wrought were real signs; and their demand was for one of a different kind.

His own resurrection, after entombment for three days, is called the sign of Jonah, because of the similarity of the
two miracles.  This view is confirmed by the consideration that it was undoubtedly a miraculous sign which the
scribes and Pharisees demanded; and the word sign in His answer must be understood in the same sense.

But why would the Ninevites condemn this generation?  Because Christ's preaching was based upon far better
attested evidence than that of Jonah's.  Did God accompany Jonah's ministry with the variety and abundance of
undoubted supernatural evidences of the divine authority of his message, as He had done for His Son?  If not, those
Gentile Ninevites had far more reason to demand signs of that foreign prophet from a tiny subject kingdom than did
this generation of God's chosen people, nevertheless those godless pagans repented and this nation of
"God-fearing" Jews did not.

The Queen of the South (1st Kings 10:1-13; 2nd Chronicles 9:1-12) plus of the wisdom of Solomon, shows the
second illustration is not exactly equal to the first.  Rather, Jesus has moved to an illustration involving a pagan who,
though deeply moved by her contract with Hebrew monotheism, apparently did not become converted to it, in
contrast with the Ninevites who actually repented.
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