So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. Mark 3, verses 23-26.
If you’re a student of history, you’ll note that these verses in Mark 3 were quoted by Abraham Lincoln. He used them in a famous speech, given in his acceptance of his party’s nomination for an Illinois Senate seat in 1858. Lincoln quoted the verses and put them in the context of the Union at that time. “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free,” said Mr. Lincoln. Lincoln had spoken eloquently before, and already had something of a growing national reputation when he gave the ‘house divided’ speech. Isn’t it fascinating – and telling – that some of the Great Orator’s most famous words quoted Jesus of Nazareth? That reminds me of a story that Jesus told. It certainly reminded Lincoln, whose religious affiliation and belief set we have debated since the day he died, but who, in fact, was a well-versed and largely self-taught scholar of the Bible.
The story that Jesus told was one He told in refuting the Pharisees who were, once again, goading Him. They had said He was possessed by the devil. Isn’t ironic that, when someone challenges something which we hold dear, we find it very easy to go personal, to attack them for who they are instead of just what they are saying? That’s what the Pharisees did to Jesus. They tried to hit Him where He hurt. Yet instead of simply smiting them or hurting them – as Satan surely would have done– Jesus reasons with them, appealing to their minds and their hearts with logic that stands the test of time.
At least that’s what Abraham Lincoln thought. And did.
Isn’t it true for us as well? How often do we read stories of people who said God told them to do outrageous or terrible things? Had they been more steeped in the Scriptures, could they not have seen how God does not ask us to do things that are contrary to His nature? It would be natural for Satan to delude us into thinking that the person with whom we have an affair is actually who God put in our lives forever, yet tell me just when has God considered adultery to be a good thing? And maybe a jury would understand why one man killed another in a ‘justifiable’ way, but just when has Jesus endorsed murder?
Those things would be contrary to God’s holy nature, meaning that, if He thought, said, or did things that are contrary, His house would be divided against itself and could no longer stand. That means something for us, especially when we are trying to determine what God is saying to us in everyday events. Would God ask us to do things that are contrary to Him? Would He put us in positions where our only choice is something sinful? You know the answer. So did Abraham Lincoln. So did Jesus.
Lord, let me follow only Your will, testing temptation by comparing it to Your words and Your will in my life. Praise be to You for Your mercy and teaching.
Read Mark 3, verses 23-30.