READING: Matthew 9-10
Jesus cast out demons, and He gave His disciples the authority to do the same. They would continue His work to “cast them [demons] out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matt 10:1), and He sent them out to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Matt 10:8). More specifically, they were to proclaim the message that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:7). Jesus the Redeemer had come.
Several truths about spiritual warfare are apparent in today’s readings. First, it is the proclamation of the message that ultimately frees people from bondage. The disciples were given authority over the demonic, but they would address the demonic in the context of their teaching and preaching — just like Jesus did: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction” (Matt 9:35, cf. Matt 4:23-24). The disciples were to focus on teaching rather than exorcisms; their authority to cast out demons did not mean they were to become demon hunters.
Second, some sickness may be caused by demons, but not all. Jesus healed a mute man by casting a demon out of him (Matt 9:32-33), so some physical ailments must have a demonic origin. On the other hand, Jesus differentiated between healing the sick and casting out demons (Matt 10:8, cf. Matt 4:23-34), indicating that some sicknesses were not healed through exorcism. Any teaching about warfare and sickness must keep this biblical balance in mind.
Third, Jesus gave the disciples this authority, and nothing in the text (or others, in my opinion) assumes that we lack that same authority. Exorcisms and healings may not be as normative today as we see in the New Testament when God’s kingdom collided with the enemy’s world, and it may be that such events are more common on the front lines of the mission field — but I don’t doubt that God works such miracles today. Our responsibility is simply to proclaim the Word and follow the direction of the Spirit when such situations present themselves.
Finally, authority over the devil does not preclude the reality of persecution. Even when Jesus told His disciples to cast out demons, He also warned them to “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues” (Matt 10:17). Thus, victory in spiritual warfare is not escaping the battle; it is enduring through the battle. God gives us the authority to win, even if winning comes through death.
- Go back and review the main points of today’s devotion. Today, be alert for anyone who seems to be living in defeat. Proclaim the good news of victory.
- On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being the lowest score), rate your willingness to endure persecution for the sake of the gospel.
PRAYER: “God, I praise You for the victory and the authority You give me. Grant me faith to trust You even if persecution comes.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Matthew 11-12