Steven Furtick - Healing A Cynical Heart
For many of us, cynicism has become our strategy. It's how we deal with disappointment. We don't get our hopes up. Then no one can bring them down. For many of us, cynicism serves as a shield to keep us from ever exposing ourselves to the elements of mystery which are the essence of faith in God. These cynical scribes. They had a lot of knowledge, but they didn't have real wisdom. They had a lot of knowledge. Information was their specialty. They were trained in the law and disciplined. These were not pornographers. These were valued members, esteemed members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling counsel. These were them who should have known the one who was the fulfillment of the law they had expertly divined was standing right in front of them, but they criticized the very one they spoke of, and they didn't even know it, because Jesus was doing weird stuff…healing shriveled hands, packing out crowds.
I wanted to tell you this. In Mark's gospel, it says crowd 13 times, and it's never positive. As a preacher, I always wanted to draw a crowd, but when Mark records his gospel, the thing most preachers are trying to create was the thing that actually got in Jesus' way of doing what he came to do. That's not just for preachers. A lot of the times, the things the world celebrates actually get in the way of God doing what he wants to do in your life. Everybody wants to be busy. That's another way of saying crowded. Sometimes our busyness is the very thing that keeps God from doing his work, his business. Jesus said, "I have to be about my Father's business". Not what the crowds or the consumers wanted him to do. He had to be about building what he called in this passage his Father's kingdom or the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven. It was a phrase that was unique to Jesus. He came to inaugurate that kingdom, and he was doing it. In order to do that, he had to drive out Satan.
So, this man comes to him (we don't read about him in Mark's gospel, but we read about him in the other gospels) who was possessed with a demon, and he couldn't speak. He was mute. And he couldn't see. He was blind. The Bible says Jesus dealt with both of those issues. Since we're talking about inside voice, it's significant that the man left speaking, that the man who could not speak now could speak. Hold that for a moment. Now here come the Pharisees, the scribes. It was their job to interpret the law, and now they can't even interpret the actions of the one who stands in front of them to fulfill the law. What God showed me in this context is that the cynicism of the scribes was one thing. They had too much knowledge, and it blocked wisdom. Too much noise, too much of how we think things are supposed to be, too much of our mastery of God closes us from the mystery of God. It makes you cynical. It makes you start to think you know God better than God. Before he died for our sin, he had to deal with their cynicism.
Now can I really freak you out? Go to Matthew 12:25. This is the same account. He heals this demon-possessed man, and the scribes don't like it. It threatens them. So, they do what we do when we get threatened. They criticize. They become cynical. They don't want to learn anything. They don't really want to experience what God came to bring. They just want to defend themselves. You know how you hide your own dysfunction? I'm not breaking it down fine enough for you. You know the thoughts you have when you go through your Instagram feed about other people? A lot of those are designed to keep you from having to be alone with you. The scribes had their scrolls, and they interpreted the scrolls. What's it called when you're on your phone? They accuse him of doing the Devil's work, but they don't do it out loud. This is what I want to show you.
Verse 25: "Jesus knew their thoughts…" If that happened every time you came to church, you'd stop coming. Be honest about it. Come on, tell me about your inside voice. I've told you about mine. Mine will tell me the most horrible things about myself, about others. It is unthinkable. It is not PG-13 what my inside voice says to me. I'm sorry, but it's not King James English. It's not Greek. It's compound cusswords. It's cusswords in tongues. It's cusswords that bypass cultural cusswords. I'm talking about my inside voice. Jesus heard what they said in their heart. It goes to show you can have all of the words right. You can sing all of the songs. You can do all the stuff. You can call yourself a certain label. Jesus knew their thoughts. We think he came to deal with our external values. He came to deal with your inside voice.
I want to talk about your inside voice. I want to talk about the temptations you don't bring up in eGroup. They are not Zoom-appropriate. They are not church-appropriate. You don't need to tell anybody. But he knew their thoughts. The Word was made flesh. That means he already knows. He knows it before you speak it. It's so silly what we try to hide from God when he hears our inside voice. One Scripture says his Spirit interprets your groans. When you don't know what to pray and you can't find anything to pray and all you can barely do is move your lips, he interprets that. The scribes can't do it. The Savior can. He knows how to interpret the events of your life. He's good at that, but we're not. So they see him. He makes a mute man speak, and they go, "That must be the Devil". Because you know in church we love nothing more than to blame the Devil. We should do a word count on one of my sermons one day and see if I say "Jesus" or "the Devil" more in my sermon. I might be embarrassed. We do it all the time when we give the Devil credit for something God is actually trying to do. That's what they were doing in the passage.
"Oh, the Devil did that. The Devil attacked me. That was the Devil". It wasn't the Devil. The Devil didn't do it. Sometimes your decisions did it. The Devil didn't wreck your car. You trying to turn the radio station at the same time you tried to return the text… That wrecked your car. That wasn't the Devil. That's what Jesus said. The Devil didn't do this. In fact, it was Jesus doing it, but they blamed the Devil. It's like this voice that always makes you a victim, this voice that always tries to give the Devil credit for things God is actually doing. Isn't it crazy that the kingdom of God was coming but their cynicism stopped them from participating in it? Oh, the number of times you and I have missed the God who was in our midst and the miracles he was performing because of a cynical spirit. I'm going to show you where all that comes from in the text.
See, in the text you have a contrast. It's the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Did you notice that? He said, "If Satan's kingdom is divided it will fall". The crazy thing about it is Satan is more strategic about his kingdom than a lot of God's children are about God's kingdom. We do all the time what the Devil knows better than to ever do. He says Satan won't fight Satan. He's bringing a kingdom. But we, as God's children, don't have enough good sense, so we embrace strategies of cynicism and call it wisdom. So, let me tell you something. Cynicism is counterfeit wisdom. It looks like wisdom. It looks like that TAG Heuer watch I bought for $30 in New York. It looked like a TAG. It wasn't a TAG. It looks like the truth; it isn't the truth. It looks like righteousness; it's not righteousness. It looks like faith; it's really manipulation. Cynicism is as fake as that Louis V or Gucci bag you picked up online from… It's as fake as that. When you go through life with a cynical spirit, that is not the Spirit of God.
Let me just tell you something right now. I don't intend to run this pulpit with a spirit of cynicism no matter what happens in the world. Gospel means good news. Freedom! I'm going to preach that from this pulpit. How about your pulpit? Whose report will you believe? What's your inside voice? So, he's building this kingdom, and the contrast… At first, I thought it was God versus Satan. Then I thought, "Well, that's kind of it, but it's something else too". Then I thought, "Well, maybe it's about the strong man versus the weak man," because that's in the text too. Then there's this verse people worry about where it says, "If you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven". People are thinking, "Oh no. Have I done that"? If you're even asking, "Have I done that"? you haven't done that, because that is the Holy Spirit convicting you, which means you are not denying his work inside of you. So, when he says, "Anything you say or do can be forgiven," that's based on the finished work of Christ that he was completing. What cannot be forgiven is a sin you will not deal with, and that's why he mentions the Holy Spirit.
So, on one hand, you have the kingdom of Satan versus the kingdom of God. On the other hand, there's a division. He says, "A house divided against itself…" He's talking about the eternal versus the temporal, the eternal versus the ephemeral, what lasts forever versus what's going to wither and fade, the word of the Lord versus the values of the world. But here came the real thing for me, and it went all the way back to the beginning. Do you remember how when I started reading the text in verse 20, I stopped, and it said, "Then Jesus entered a house"? You're probably thinking, "Come on, man. Get on with it. Don't make a big deal about…" No, no, no. Everything significant that happens in this text happens on the inside. He entered a house, probably Simon's house, Peter's house. That's where he stayed in Capernaum. Yeah, that's where he stayed. They probably just got done repairing the roof, because in Mark, chapter 2, there was a big crowd, and the man who really needed help couldn't get in, so they tore off the roof to get the man down to Jesus.
So, now the roof is freshly repaired. There's another crowd. Peter is telling Mark… He's the one who gave Mark the account to write, and Mark wrote it for Peter. Peter puts in there, "We didn't even have a chance to eat". I think that's probably due to what he was really focused on. Of all of the things to remember. Jesus is driving out devils and Peter is like, "And we missed lunch". You know how we get focused on the temporal. But really, the contrast I want to bring up is external/internal. Not only is Jesus receiving criticism and opposition from the scribes, but his own family?
I never heard more people tell me than this year in 14 years of pastoring how they're not even speaking to their own family. It has us so divided with different things that are going on. Yet when I preach the passage, everybody thinks they're Jesus. If I preach this and I say, "His family was standing on the outside of the house," everybody thinks they're Jesus in the passage. I came with something really deep to tell you: you ain't Jesus. I see a wife elbowing her husband right now on a couch in Minnesota, saying, "You ain't Jesus". I did not tell you to tell your neighbor that. But listen to me when I say this. The secret to Jesus doing his Father's will, and the secret to you doing the will of God, and the secret to you not going crazy in this season of life and with what the world is going through is going to be the voices you respond to. The voices you respond to are going to come mainly from what you surround yourself with.