In Matthew 12:24-31, Jesus says:

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” 25 And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house...31 Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven." Matthew 12:24-31 (NASB)

The context of Jesus' remarks regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit seem to indicate it is related to attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.

It appears to me that Jesus' words do not deal with the possibility of deception on Satan's part (a being whose very existence is devoted to misleading human beings) . That is, Satan could "fake" an exorcism by releasing someone from demonic influence, only to influence that person in more subtle and dangerous ways, as well as misled witnesses.

The possibility of Satan being the source of powerful works is commonly appealed to in order to explain or denigrate miracles, even exorcisms, that occur in groups whose theology contradicts one's own, and especially those acts of power (that might bring relief to someone, such as healing) which occur outside the context of Christianity.

This seems to be the very sin the Pharisees were committing, since an act of power that visibly brought relief to a human being challenged their commitments and beliefs, and thus came their attempt to protect their worldview by calling that which was visibly good, wicked. It is also altogether plausible that they would have appealed to Satan being a deceiver to further their argument against Jesus.

On the basis of Jesus words, are we to conclude that a Christian must admit that a powerful work that has evidence of bringing healing, relief, or freedom from some sort of wicked spiritual influence, especially one performed in the context of Christianity, is from God, otherwise he or she might be blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?

Does Jesus' argument that Satan cannot cast out Satan indicate he is unable to exorcise a demon as a kind of ruse with some wicked intent such as deception?

  • 1
    See also 2 Corinthians 11:14.
    – Lucian
    Aug 24, 2018 at 5:03

1 Answer 1


I think, the immediate context of the argument provided by Jesus excludes the possibility that demon is expelled only apparently, just for a temporary relief, that is to say, not really expelled, or expelled by head of demons in order to lead this man to a greater evil (for instance, a demon-possessed man cannot write - while he is possessed - graceless, talent-less poems, and Beelzebul would order the demons to leave this man, so that he, lead by vain-glory may prolifically write bad poems and mercilessly torment his neighbours' taste by them, which will be far greater evil both for him and humanity than him just being demon-possessed and foaming from mouth during periodic fits); on the contrary, Jesus argument in this concrete case implies a real expulsion of demons, and this real expulsion of demons is impossible to be done by Beelzebul - the head of demons, whose sole purpose is to support presence of his subjects in human heart, thus if Beelzebul wants to remain a head of demons and not betray his profession, he is necessitated not to expel demons from human heart, lest his kingdom is ruined; this being absurd, excluded is the possibility that Jesus expels by any other power than God's power (for there is nothing in between opposition of God's and Beelzebub's kingdoms), and if Pharisees call this power stupidly and calumniously "Beelzebul's power", then they commit a sin of calumny on God's power, a sin of blasphemy.

Moreover, Jesus claims also His divinity when asks them with an apparent irony a rhetorical question: "if I expel demons by Beelzebul, then by whom your sons expel them? So, they will be your judges" (Matt 12:27). That is to say, if Beelzebul is the principle through whom to expel demons, the disciples of Jesus would also invoke Beelzebul, in imitation of Jesus, in order to exorcise demons, but they do not do so; rather, they invoke name of Jesus in order to expel demons, whereas Jesus does not invoke any other name but does it out of His own authority, for this authority is equal to His Father's; thus, for disciples it is enough to invoke Jesus and not His Father, for both has the same effect, both having the same divine sovereign authority over all spirits - fallen (demons) or unfallen (angels).

As to whether healing or exorcism is real or only apparent and deceptive, this is another question. Thus to answer your question: if healing/exorcism is real, then it is a blasphemy against Holy Spirit not to acknowledge this and, on the contrary, give credit to demons for this benefaction; however, if healing/exorcism is only apparent and it is 100% clear for a penetrative observer, then this observer not only can say that this is a false and un-Godly healing/exorcism, but must say this, if he is a conscientious person. And finally, to ask a question whether healing/exorcism is real and truthful or only apparent and deceptive is a very legitimate question, for "even satan masquerades himself as an angel of light" (1 Cor 11:14), so what a surprise if his naughty servants would masquerade themselves as healers and exorcists? Critical reasoning is not only permitted but required from Christians and all human beings regardless their religion or irreligion.

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