“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.
Maybe that's why it seems impossible to be successful in all areas of life. Just when I think I've got the mother thing figured out, I fail at the wife thing. When I get the wife thing figured out, I fail at the work thing. When I get the work thing figured out, I fail at the exercise thing. When I get the exercise thing figured out, I fail at the mother thing... and so on and so forth.
There's obviously a fine line here though. Quite honestly, I'm a little tired of hearing things like "let the Holy Spirit do it through you" or "just move over and let Jesus take over" because WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???
I can't just sit and do nothing and expect to somehow live like Jesus. We DO need to practice self-discipline, holiness, godliness. So where is the dividing line between my efforts and His power? How do I know when I'm putting in the right amount of effort or when I'm striving too hard on my own and not letting Him work through me? If I'm not victorious over besetting sins, have I been striving too long in my own strength, or have I been doing nothing, expecting God to miraculously handle it all?
Argh, I find this particular subject very frustrating. I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation of how this is supposed to be lived out in everyday life.
(Sorry for the rant!!)
I know exactly what you mean, Tammi, about the every time you get one area sorted out, you mess up somewhere else. Story of my life too. And I don't think that it says anywhere in this post that we're to just not do anything and let the Spirit do all the work. (At least, I didn't mean that, if that's what it sounds like.) Obviously we do have to put in effort, often a lot of it, ourselves.
I think what I got from the paragraph that I put in bold, is that I put too much emphasis on my own capabilities and doing things according to my own priorities, or my own ideas (too often based on worldly philosophies) of what is important, and not what I would be capable of if I focused more on my relationship with God, on His priorities, on doing things for HIS glory and not mine. We still have to DO the stuff ourselves, but spend time with God and work on our relationship so that the Holy Spirit can help us keep our priorities sorted out and our attitudes in good working order. We're better at Martha if we spend some time being like Mary, you know?
For me, I think it comes down to putting too much emphasis on things that don't last and not enough on the eternal things.
That last line probably pretty much sums it up, eh? Lately, I've been reminded again that the advice "do what you feel is right for you" is all to prevalent, even among Christians. Our priority needs to be what's right for the sake of the Gospel. That changes things a fair bit quite often!
This is exactly why morality is so dangerous. Morality without Jesus is dangerous because it gives you the illusion that you don't need saving.
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