The Dark Heart of the Critic: Mark 3:22-27
“22) The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23) And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24) If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25) If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26) If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27) But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭3‬:‭22‬-‭27‬
The reasoning of the critics was getting pathetic. They could not deny the fact that Jesus had authority to cast out demons. That was obvious to all. But they themselves offered no help to people who were tormented. The fact that they were void of power was equally evident. So they opted for another strategy. They became critics!
In verse 22, they alleged; “… He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Sometimes your effectiveness can be measured by the irrationality of your adversaries. Such became the case in this story.
Jesus simply called the people together and laid out His response. He started with the question; “How can Satan cast out Satan?” What an intriguing question. Why would he do that?
He followed this with four lines of reasoning. First, any kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Imagine, Jesus just divided the kingdom of darkness. I would say that was a big win for Jesus!
Second, Jesus noted that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Infighting in a family is a major indication of trouble. If Satan’s inner house was imploding, I would chalk that up as another win for Jesus.
Third, he noted that “if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished.” To credit Jesus with finishing off Satan is actually a major compliment! (By the way, that’s exactly what Jesus did through the cross and His resurrection!)
Finally, Jesus noted that “no one can enter a strong mans house and plunder his property unless He first binds the strong man.” The gospel Jesus was preaching, His miracles of healing and casting out unclean spirits amounted to plundering Satan’s house. The lost were being saved, captives were being set free and people were being healed. Wow! What amazing fruit!
Matthew recorded the same dialogue in Mathew 12:22-37 with a few additional points. Comparing these two texts adds depth to the case Jesus was making.
The bottom line was that Jesus flipped the case against them. (See 33-37) They were the ones doing evil and speaking evil. They were like bad trees producing bad fruit. They were speaking very careless words. They were becoming mean, grumpy, bitter and desperate. That usually happens to critics!
It amazes me how quickly different Christan groups pick up the rhetoric of the Scribes and Pharisees when criticizing others. I fully believe in exposing blatantly false teachers and deceitful workers, but stepping into the shoes of a jealous critic is dangerous. Some Christian’s are carelessly dividing God’s Kingdom and the family of God.
I have always focused on diligently fulfilling my own calling rather than criticizing others. I believe in planting and cultivating my own orchard rather than chopping down others.
I have learned much from others with different gifts and biblical views over the years. Yes, I measure the message and fruit by Scripture, but I am very slow about stepping into the shoes of the critic.
Preaching the truth in love is my calling. It is a full time job. To do it well requires my undivided attention. I have always focused on cultivating my own heart and spirit. I’ve had my share of weeds to uproot in my own life over the years.
I have observed that those who become self appointed critics of others soon develop heart trouble themselves. Their hearts become dark. Their personal fruit turns bad. Agape love fades from them. They soon start shooting their own soldiers. Many churches self destruct from within because of the pride, arrogance, jealousy and bitterness that feeds a critical spirit.
Jesus was into healing and not hurting, building up and not tearing down, casting out demons and not castigating team members. He was compassionate and not critical. He defended the woman caught in adultery rather than throwing stones at her. In the end, she was saved and radically changed. The Pharisees wanted to kill her. Jesus imparted life to her!
Truth delivered with agape love in holiness is powerful. Criticism fired from a judgmental cannon is destructive. The Scribes and Pharisees distribute their sandals free of charge. But finding godly people walking in the shoes of Jesus is a premium! They are welcome at my campfire anytime!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global