Looking at a short parable of Jesus with big implications for all of us. The story of a man and his demon…
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. This man had a demon, some kind of a hurt, habit, or hang up which he has kicked out of his life and claimed personal victory over. The thing about our demons is that they never rest, they are always ready to creep back in if we open the door a crack, if we have that moment of weakness, when we fall to the lie that this time I can handle it. I can take that drink. I can take that pill – after all, my back hurts. I’ll have that cigarette – it’s just one! What’s it going to hurt to sit at that poker table?
Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. Here is a basic truth of life – a man can not leave his soul empty. You can not just give up old “bad” habits, give up your evil thoughts and old ways of living, and just leave your soul and your mind empty. An empty soul is always in danger. You’ve got to fill a man with something, but as Paul tells us – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18 ESV. It’s not enough to drive out evil – good must come in.
Another basic truth – Christianity can not be just a religion of negatives. So many churches spend so much time focusing on all the things they believe we can not do. A newcomer trying to find a better way of living might very fairly ask “Well, just what can I do?” And unless we tell him, unless we give him something to do, then we are condemning him to idleness, and Satan is very good at giving idle hands something to do. And the man will be worse off than before.
The best way to avoid evil is to do good. If you have a flower garden, it’s not enough just to pull up the weeds. You have sow and plant more flowers to fill up the space, or the weeds will keep coming back worse than before. So it is with our minds. It is never enough to tell ourselves “I will not think about that anymore. I won’t drink anymore. I won’t look at that website, I won’t drive past my dealers house anymore.” When we do this, we just think more and more about what we are trying to avoid. We’ve kicked out our demon, but our soul is just empty. We have to fill our life with something else. Fill our minds with God’s word, fill our time with service. We never become good, righteous, by not doing things, but only by filling our souls, minds and time with good.
So also will it be with this evil generation. This might be the simplest, yet most profound part of this short story. Many of those hearing Jesus speak had rejected His bringing of the Kingdom of God. Rejecting His offer of grace leaves an empty space in our souls that demons will quickly fill.
So many today are seeking God. They are looking for anything “spiritual” to fill the empty void they just feel and know is there. Yet they continue to reject the claims of Christianity. Aldous Huxley once said – “I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” We are searching, but we want to be able to do it our way. But when we reject the spirit of Christ in our souls, we leave all that space for the demons to come. It seems as though Jesus is saying that if we hear His word and reject it – we are worse off than before we heard it. Those demons are waiting.
“”When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.””
Matthew 12:43-45 ESV