|Life-Study of Mark, Chapter 29|
Concerning Outward Formality
In this message I would also like to impress you with two maxims uttered by the Lord Jesus, the first in Matthew 12:30 and the second in Mark 9:40. In 9:40 the Lord says, “He who is not against us is for us.” This maxim speaks of outward formality in practice regarding those who are not against the Lord (v. 39). According to verse 38, someone was casting out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus, although he was not following the disciples who were close to the Lord. Here we have a matter of outward formality. Both this person and the Lord’s disciples were casting out demons. However, that one did not follow the Lord in the same way the disciples did. Here we see a difference in formality. The disciples’ formality was to follow the Lord Jesus, but the formality of this other party was not to follow Him with the disciples. The disciples cast out demons by following the Lord; this other person cast out demons not by following the Lord but by being in the name of the Lord. What we have here is a difference in formal practice, a difference in outward formality.
Concerning differences in outward formality, we need to be very open. The person mentioned in verse 38 was casting out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus. It was right for him to do this, for he was doing the same thing the disciples were doing. Likewise, believers today may preach the gospel in a way that is different from our gospel preaching, but both they and we are still preaching the gospel. This is a matter of outward formality in practice, and we need to be general in our attitude regarding it.
Concerning Inward Unity
The second maxim is in Matthew 12:30: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who is not gathering with Me is scattering.” This word concerns inward unity for purpose, and it was spoken regarding those who were against the Lord. In particular, it was spoken concerning the Pharisees, who said, “This man does not cast out the demons except by Beelzebub, ruler of the demons” (Matt. 12:24). The Pharisees were not one with the Lord Jesus; rather, they were against Him. Instead of gathering with Him, they were scattering away from Him. Hence, they were absolutely separated from Him and joined to His enemy, Satan.
We need to see that the maxim in Matthew 12:30 is related to inward unity for purpose. This maxim surely applies to us today in the Lord’s recovery. Because we are here for the recovery, we must be one with one another. It is not possible for any among us to say, “Even though we are not one with you, we are still for the Lord’s recovery.” We do not believe that someone can be for the Lord’s recovery and yet not be one with those who are in the recovery. There must be an inward unity for purpose.
With respect to these two maxims, we need to see the difference between practice and purpose. Regarding practice, we need to be general. But regarding purpose, we need to be particular. Concerning outward practice, the Lord says, “He who is not against us is for us.” But regarding inward unity for purpose, He says, “He who is not with Me is against Me.”