Contradictions, Part 4: Demons and Disciplehood

Go ahead. Try not to think about pink elephants now. (

So far, we’ve mostly ignored the pink elephant in the room, which is arguably the most disturbing part of the apparent contradiction: If the hypothetical false disciples in Matthew 7:21-23 are operating outside God’s will, how are they able to drive out demons in His name?

Jesus seemed to pooh-pooh the possibility in Matthew 12:25-26 (the same speech in which Jesus declares, “Whoever is not with me is against me”. We glanced at this passage in the first post in this Contradictions series), when Pharisees accused Him of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons:

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?”

I’m not the only one perplexed by these two passages, but in my Googley-eyed activities on the subject, I only found one commentator who provided meaningful insight (sez I).

In a fairly lengthy exchange on a website called Biblica Hermeneutics, about the best conclusion I could find was that the Matthew 7 exorcists were either pretending they’d performed miracles when they knew full well they hadn’t, or they were mistaken.

Now, why didn’t I think of that?

The first theory certainly holds some water – who wouldn’t ‘puff up their resume’ to try to weasel their way into heaven if they thought God was ‘on the fence’ about them?

The second one –  that the Matthew 7 characters were mistaken –  also makes sense. But it’s not particularly comforting.

In fact, it brings us back to a question not unlike the one that launched 2,000 words the other day: If it’s possible to be mistaken about miracles, does that include the miracle of my salvation? And if so, how do I know I’m not mistaken? And does the fact I have to ask the question suggest rather strongly that I am?

Rather than looping back to these same three passages and continuing what is apparently an unproductive cycle, let’s invite one of the Zebedeesons back into the discussion:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that all who believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16 (NKJV)

As my friend A.R. noted recently when discussing this verse, people don’t go to hell because of sin (neither an excess of bad deeds, nor a deficiency of good deeds), they go to hell because they don’t believe.

Fine. I believe. But do I believe the right things? Do I believe enough?

Before we address those questions, let’s hear also what Saint Paul Saith, in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

If I (and Pastor David Curtis of Berean Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, featured prominently in Contradictions, Part 3: A Dark Place) read that right, even our belief is a gift from God. It’s not even up to us to have enough faith.

I wonder if, in a sense, we’re called to simply have faith that we have faith. It couldn’t be that simple, could it?

I think maybe it is.

We’re tempted to ask if we have enough faith, but let’s be careful. If we even ‘go there’, do we risk putting our Salvation back in the category of ‘our job’ – and doesn’t that bring us back to a gospel of salvation by works?

Maybe this line of thinking is a demon that, by the Spirit of God, Jesus is ready, willing and eager to drive out of is, if only we’ll let Him.

Peace be with you.

(Pink Elephant url: (


About robpetkau

Communications professional by day, amateur musician by night, worship leader (at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Calgary) on weekends and aspiring Bible teacher in my dreams. Grateful husband to the woman who completes me. Doing-the-best-I-can dad to the son and daughter who keep me on my toes. Striving disciple of the GodMan who came, taught and died for me. Thanks for stopping by!
This entry was posted in Christianity, Exorcism, Faith, False Prophets, Grace, Insight, Sin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Contradictions, Part 4: Demons and Disciplehood

  1. Pingback: The W-Word, Part 3 | Disciplehood

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