“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” 28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
You were made with a soul, so you have a spiritual, immaterial part of you called a soul and a physical, material part of you called a body. And your soul was meant to be Spirit-filled. That’s why Genesis 2:7 says that when God created the first man, our father Adam, he breathed his spirit into him and the man became a living being. But because of sin, we are not filled by the Spirit of God and that vacancy is sometimes filled with unclean spirits, demons.
For the non-Christian, this means actually that you can come to the point where you so yield yourself that your identity, your personality, your decision-making, your appetites, your longings, and your lifestyle are dominated by your enemy. See, in America, we call this freedom. It’s actually slavery.
For the Christian, you cannot be controlled, mastered, owned, filled by a demon, but you can be influenced through succumbing to temptation and believing lies and habitually practicing sinful unrepentance.
So to use Jesus’ analogy, assume that you live in a home. See yourself, picture yourself, position yourself living in a home in the midst of a war. And you do not secure your home. You leave the windows open at night. You leave the door open. You’re very foolish and unguarded. One morning, you come down and sitting on the couch is a soldier. One of the soldiers in the midst of this battle has decided he’s gonna live at your house. Tired of sleeping on a cot, in a tent. And so when he feels like it, he shows up at your house. He eats what’s in your fridge. He sleeps in your bed. He’s decided that he’s gonna be your roommate.
And at first, it’s not that bad. But after awhile, it gets very bad. He becomes abusive. He becomes harmful, becomes terrifying, becomes threatening. You feel unsafe and you realize, “I have to kick him out. I can’t live with this forever.” And somehow, some way, you kick him out and he leaves. But you’re foolish. You don’t shut the windows. You don’t lock the door. You don’t secure the house. Eventually, the soldier goes out looking for another place to stay and he realizes, “Where I was was a pretty good place. Now, if I go back there, I could get kicked out again, so I need to go get seven buddies and we’re gonna take siege of that home and we’re gonna overwhelm that resident and then it’ll be our house and we can live there and do whatever we want and he can’t stop us.”
For some of you, this parable illustrates your life. There is something dark in your life that you are living with, but it is destroying you. It could be a sin proclivity. It could be an unclean spirit. It is someone or something that works in alignment with Satan to destroy you. And you come to the conclusion, “I can’t live with this any longer. I need to get rid of this.” And so you get rid of it, but you don’t invite the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your life. To use the analogy, you don’t invite the Holy Spirit to move in.
See, some of you have tried self-help, self-esteem, which is just pride. You’ve tried morality. You’ve tried religion. You’ve tried spirituality. You’ve tried doing better. You’ve tried doing harder. You’ve tried to be more disciplined and more productive and more serious and more devout. And for awhile, you clean out your house. But you don’t know how to defend and protect it. So for some of you, the story of your life is this, “It started pretty good and then it got bad. But then I made a change and it got better. And then it got worse.” Then it got worse. Why is that? Because you can acknowledge there’s a problem, you can clean out the proverbial house, but if the Holy Spirit, the strong one, does not move in to defend you, the guy comes back with seven friends.
My heart trembles in fear. I know I've tried most of these things. Do better. Try harder. Be more disciplined. Trying to do it under my own power. Only in the last few years have I come to realize just how weak and incapable I am on my own. The only way we can become more like Jesus (which is really the goal here on earth, right?) is to be filled with the Spirit. It's often hard to even keep our focus on living for God. There's always this to do and that to do and this place to go, and it's easy to lose sight of why we're doing it all, but it's all for HIM. It's all for Him.
"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 11:29-32.