I have been a little late in getting all the spring cleaning completed that I want to get done. I have a great helper in my son, though. He can help me move heavy furniture and can help do a lot of the cleaning. I think it is important for everyone to know how to clean their home. We have dusted walls and ceilings, dusted every inch of furniture, vacuumed corners as well as the middle of the carpet and we have washed windows and cleaned showers and toilets and all the things we need to do to have a clean home. Are we finished yet? No, but that is because we take one day or two-day breaks in between the dirty heavy cleaning! I imagine when we finish this cleaning project it will be time to vacuum and dust all over again! That is the way of things in a person’s life, isn’t it? We never finish with cleaning. Messes come even if we have not used a room; dust from the air filters into a clean unused room still makes it dirty. This reminds me of the mind that has been washed clean but not used; do you know that story from the Bible?
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:38-45, (New International Version or NIV).
I don’t know about you but I sure could use some explanation about this passage. I mean what does a group of Pharisees and teachers trying to trap Jesus by asking for a sign have to do with the demon leaving and then coming back and finding his place empty and moves in with even more demons. The best way to study passages like this is to compare them with a similar passage. Fortunately there is a similar passage to this one in Luke, so let’s take a look at that passage.
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:14-26, (NIV).
Oh, now it is making more sense to me and I hope to you as well. Apparently prior to the Pharisee’s asking for a sign Jesus had just driven a demon out of a person who couldn’t speak. The Pharisees must have been watching from a distance. I can assume this because that was their normal pattern, to follow Jesus around and spy on Him. So Jesus is teaching the crowd that witnessed the mute man speak after the demon left his body. Some of the people were thinking that Jesus must be from the devil and doing some kind of evil magic. Those people thought Beelzebul, another word for the Satan or the Devil, was working some trick magic through Jesus. Boy were they wrong! Jesus teaches them quite an interesting teaching here and proves that this miracle is from God because He is the Son of God. In other words Jesus revealed who He is to the crowd by casting out the demon from the man. This act of kindness did not set well with the high and mighty Pharisees who did not believe that Jesus was the son of God. Apparently seeing is not believing for these guys!
So what can we learn from these passages. Since they are recorded in two different New Testament books there must be something that we are to learn. I think that it is an important passage to remind us that our life before we committed to Christ was full of many sins and some of us may have been controlled by demons and didn’t even realize it. Evil is powerful when the Holy Spirit is not indwelling a human being. I mean what else explains all the horrible things that people do to each other and to themselves? But when we come to Christ and we ask Jesus into our hearts and are cleansed from all unrighteousness the demons have no place to go but out into arid places looking for a new place to reside. If we don’t continue to seek God through Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to continue the important work of renewing our hearts and minds (Romans 12:2) if we don’t fill up our mind and heart by reading scripture and applying it to our lives then that demon may return with his pals to move back into us. Why would a demon return to a “Christian” that has been cleansed by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior you may ask? How do you know that they are Christians? After all Jesus cast out the demon of the mute man but if the mute man did not accept Jesus as his savior then the demons would most likely return. I think that is the point of the story here. Jesus states clearly in Revelation 3:16 that there will be some who think they are Christians yet Jesus will not acknowledge them. He says the same thing in Matthew 7:22-23. I know this may sound a little far-fetched to some of you but I really believe that it is true. Let’s look at another scripture.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24, (NIV).
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:13-15, (NIV).
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Luke 11:23, (NIV).
I purposely quoted from Luke 11 again because I wanted to show that even though Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13-15 both follow a teaching of Christ about money and possessions; they have an important point to make. I believe that the meaning is clear that there are only two masters in this universe, either we are a follower of Christ or we are a follower of the world which really is following the devil. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit resides inside of me and inside most of the people who I personally know. I am thankful that God has allowed me to be a Christian. I want to clean my heart and mind by accepting Christ as my Savior and to continue allowing Him to work in and through me so that the demons that were thrown out of me never to return ever! I want to be a servant of Christ. So how can I be sure that I am not deceived into thinking that I am a Christian when Jesus says I am not? Some of the outward signs of a Christian are that they attend Sunday School and Church, read and study the Bible and learn all they can and try to apply it to their life. That is only a small part of a sign that one is a Christian. Take a good long look at yourself and compare your attitudes and behavior to the fruit of the Spirit (Matthew 7:16. Galatians 5:22-26, Romans 8:5, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5:8-20) listing to be certain of your own salvation. There will be good fruit produced from you. I am joy-filled and thankful that Christ is my Master. Who is your Master?