“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Matthew 12:43-45).
Christ’s comment here is a continuation of His discussion on the unpardonable sin (vs. 31–37). The instruction regards those who have accepted the gospel message joyfully at first, but refused later to submit to the transformation of the Holy Spirit. These had not yet committed the unpardonable sin, and Jesus warns them not to.
The Christian who has received the love of God has a role to play to maintain his connection with God. For the Christian walk does not consist mainly of staying away from evil, but rather to applying the mind and the life faithfully to that which is good. It is not enough that demons be cast out of them but the Spirit of God must come into the life and transform it (2 Chron. 6:16; Eph. 2:22).
Submission to Christ gives a new power to resist all evil (Rom. 6:16), and the unclean spirits can never enter the heart. Our only safety is in complete surrender to Christ, in order that He may enter in and live out His perfect life within us (Gal. 2:20; Rev. 3:20). This parable is a warning against passiveness; Christians must actively “seek those things which are above” (Col. 3:1, 2). Failure to do that results in a worse condition of affliction than the original one. For the evil spirit gets 7 (complete number) more evil spirits to make sure that the weak one will not escape again.
This same condition also resembles a physical health relapse which happens when a patient fails to realize his physical weakness. Likewise, too often those who have been healed of the disease of sin suffer a spiritual relapse and get weaker than they were at first. They don’t realize how careful they must be not only to avoid temptation but to allow God to daily transform them. King Saul is an example to that. Saul, at one point, was filled by the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 10:9–13), but later failed to yield completely to God, and as a result was exposed to the control of an evil spirit (1 Sam. 16:14) that finally drove him to commit suicide (1 Sam. 31:4).
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In His service,
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