We have already looked at Matthew 12 and Mark 3 when we discussed how Satan acquired the name Beelzebub, but let us look at these passages again to discuss some of the hints that Satan’s house is divided, a subject that we will return to at least a couple more times later on. Indeed, this passage is rich when discussing the matter of demonology and so it is worthwhile to focus on different elements each time. Let us show the passages from Matthew 12 and Mark 3 once again and then discuss the hints we receive from these passages about the matter of Satan’s house divided and discuss at least a few possible ways to see these indications in the rest of scripture and what sort of evidence would allow us to come to the reasonable conclusion that one of the reasons why Satan’s kingdom will fail is because of its internal contradictions.
Once again, Matthew 12:22-30 tells us: “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.””
Likewise, Mark 3:20-27 tells us: “Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.””
These two passages tell us the same thing, and let us focus this time in our look on the passage at the way that Jesus answers the false accusations that He cast out demons by Beelzebub. It would have been sufficient to deny that He cast out demons by the Spirit of God within Him, as that would have been the truth. However, he chose to do more than this. It would also have been sufficient for him to point out that his Jewish adversaries also cast out demons (something that we have biblical evidence for, which we will discuss later on when we look at what the Bible says about demons), and this Jesus did. But Jesus did more than that. He invited His listeners, who probably were not inclined to take him up on his remez (hint) that if Satan’s kingdom was divided that it would not stand, that it would have an end. This particular verse has had a surprisingly important historical importance in the United States, as it was cited by Abraham Lincoln appropriately to state that the United States was, thanks to slavery, a house divided, and that eventually the United States would become all slave or all free and so cease to be divided. And so it was. If we follow the hint of this particular passage, we will see that Jesus Christ is implying that Satan’s house is divided.
How then might we follow up on this hint? Let us look at several lines of evidence that would allow us to recognize that Satan’s house is divided. First, let us examine what sort of evidence would suggest that the Bible indicates this to be a fact. Do we find demons serving the plans of God consciously and willingly and not only unwillingly? Do we have evidence of demons that have no interest in showing hostility or opposition to God but do show hostility and opposition to other enemies of God? Do we have evidence of demons fighting against each other in scripture, showing obvious division? If the answers to any of these questions is yes, then we know that the Bible affirms that Satan’s kingdom is divided and that while it was deeply wrong and unjust to claim that Jesus Christ cast out demons by Satan, the Jewish enemies of Jesus were correct in stating that Satan’s kingdom was divided.
What other sort of evidence would suggest that Satan’s kingdom is divided? Besides biblical sources there are extrabiblical sources of information that would indicate that Satan’s realm is divided, some of them coming from a very unusual source. To give one example of this extrabiblical evidence, the discussion of the planes in the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game indicates that a violent division of Satan’s division is an important aspect of the design of the game. For example, there are parts of the planes that correspond to the entire 3 x 3 moral universe of the game, with axes involving good and evil as well as lawful to chaotic. Even if one only takes the evil realm to refer to the realm of the demons (and this is being generous), one still finds that Satan’s realm is divided against itself and therefore will not stand, because devils are to be found among the lawful evil, seeking power through institutions and domination of others, while demons are found among the chaotic evil, and seek to be free to do evil without restraint.
Nor is it only in role playing games that we find this divide between lawful and chaotic evil. The history of mankind, not only in the current age but spectacularly obviously there, demonstrates that mankind has operated under two contradictory yet frequently united tendencies, and that is showing the face of anarchy to higher authorities and tyranny to those viewed below. So we find people rebelling against governments that seek to restrict their immoral conduct but then seek to silence dissent and rule despotically in their own states, communities, and homes, as in the American Civil War and other such conflicts. Contemporary feminists decry the authority of men in households or institutions and resent mansplaining when they are uninformed but seek to rule over their wombs despotically, rejecting any right of unborn to live without their approval as harshly as any Roman pater familias did with newborn children in his household. This attitude is one of double standards and rank hypocrisy, but it demonstrates the division in Satan’s kingdom between the tendency to rebel against higher authorities whose restrictions are intolerable and the simultaneous desire to be despotic and tyrannical towards those views as under one’s own authority, not recognizing that others may find oneself to be as tyrannical and illegitimate (if not more so) than the authorities that one is rebelling against.
Given that we are fallen beings warped and twisted by sin, we can use our own self-awareness of our own internal divisions and divides as a way of inferring the division that exists within Satan’s kingdom, given that we are all born into this kingdom in one or another of the divided realms that exist within it. Nor is it only in matters of chaos as opposed to order that Satan’s kingdom is divided. We see that Satan’s realm is divided in many intentional ways, such as when different aspects of virtue are pitted against each other. So it is that we see law and grace pitted against each other, even though both are aspects of godliness. And so it is that public and private morality are pit against each other, so that people who restrain themselves personally are vied as the enemy of those who believe in the importance of justice towards others, even though both justice and personal morality are aspects of godliness in a society. Pitting fragmented ideals of righteousness against others as if they were in competition is one of the main ways that Satan’s kingdoms are divided here and now. And as this sort of problem shows no signs of ending without divine intervention, we may therefore see that the divisions of Satan’s kingdom are fatal and that they mean that Satan’s kingdom will have an end, thanks to the words of Jesus Christ on the subject. And the promises of God, who cannot lie, are to be relied upon.