“When an evil spirit comes out of a person, it travels through dry places, looking for a place to rest. But when it finds no place, it says, ‘I will go back to the house I left.’ And when it comes back, it finds that house swept clean and made neat. Then the evil spirit goes out and brings seven other spirits more evil than it is, and they go in and live there. So the person has even more trouble than before.” Luke 11:24-26 (New Century Version)
Are you noticing, as I am, that Jesus really didn’t stick to fluffy, benign topics when He taught? Hear these words again, from The Message paraphrase of the Scriptures:
“When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can be-devil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”
Jesus did a lot of exorcisms in His day, sending the demons packing who were camped out inside the lives of tortured people. It happened everywhere He went. He was known for it! People would seek Him out for the express purpose of having a demon cast out of a loved one.
There must have been great rejoicing every time one of these spirits of evil left the life of a God-created individual!
With some notable exceptions, we don’t really talk much in terms of ‘demons’ and ‘possession’ in our day, do we? We just don’t go there very often. In our world of scientific and medical explanations for just about everything, our need for a supernatural perspective is regularly quenched by a preference for ‘Just the FACTS, Ma’am.’ Only the facts.
Yet, if we look long and hard at our personal issues and struggles, we might find some demons residing within. Demons with names like ‘addiction,’ ‘anger,’ and ‘greed.’ Demons with friends known as ‘materialism,’ ‘lust,’ and ‘pride.’ Demons who are likely to become quite comfortable in their human homes unless we take the work of Jesus seriously and seek His participation in our emancipation from the claims they’ve staked in our territory.
And once we’ve been set free – as many of us have – from the tendrils of sin and death, what’s next?
Our celebrations of healing and recovery last only so long before those same addictions and temptations find their way back to us. And, if what they find when they return home is a neat and tidy EMPTY nest, well, Jesus told us what would happen.
When we do the hard work of cleaning house and making room in our lives for MORE, we must remember that it is absolutely necessary for that space inside to be filled with God-given housewarming gifts. Otherwise, it will be returned to its original squatter (and he won’t be coming back alone).
Some of us are nodding our heads, having seen or experienced this very thing in lives that are close to our own.
We master that addiction.
We get our anger under control.
We overcome our greedy ways.
We shed the harmful habits and behaviors, but we fail to adopt the ongoing healing and restorative process offered by God through faith in Christ.
We gut out the old and decaying interior, but fail to give the Contractor access for the remodel.
Maybe the urgency just isn’t there to do things differently.
Maybe the anticipated cost of renovation is much higher than we originally thought.
Maybe the starkness of a life without the negative influences is enough for now. Why rush out and buy the farm when we can just rent for awhile, right?
Letting down our guard in the aftermath of healing is exactly what the enemy would love to have us do. He knows that we’re tired of fighting. He knows that we’re finally breathing easily and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. But what he also knows is that, unless that LIGHT is ushered INTO our lives, the darkness has a foothold and can always slip back in. Possibly undetected. Probably in the company of like-minded companions. Either way, as Jesus tells us, we’re worse off than we ever were before.
The solution? Let Jesus move in!
Let’s pray that the real presence of the Spirit of God would inhabit our lives from this day forward.
Let’s choose to hang a hefty ‘No Vacancy’ sign on the door to our hearts, notifying all prior inhabitants that LOVE HAS COME to reside within us!
Or, as in the immortal words of TobyMac:
“Love is in the house and the house is packed, so much soul I left the back door cracked. Mama always said it’s a matter of fact, when love is in the house, the house is packed.”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!