43 "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 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. 45 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 man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."

Matt 12:43-45 (NIV)

Jesus’ Words of warning in our verses for today speaking of a once cleansed demoniac again re-inhabited set my mind thinking upon Peter’s words regarding the sow returning to her wallowing in the mud or the dog to its vomit. While Pete is referring to the false teachers of his day in his passage, the end results he writes could be used for the cleansed and empty demoniac re-inhabited as well. The final condition of both being bleak:

17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." 2 Peter 2:17-22 (NIV)

Scripture tells us we are held accountable for what we have heard and seen and experienced yet consistently choose to remain void or unchanged regarding faith in the Lord Jesus. Make no mistake about it, the time of opportunity is always the present – it is the gift. True believers do not remain empty or neutral regarding faith in the Lord Jesus. We either have His powerful Spirit indwelling - sanctifying and convicting - within us or we do not. We do ourselves no service in deluding ourselves regarding this. Paul clearly states in Romans:

9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9 (NIV)

“Now, you may have a dead faith which will ruin your soul. The faith that will save you is a faith which sanctifies. That faith which saves the soul is a real faith, and a real faith sanctifies men. You cannot have faith, and yet live in sin. To believe is to be holy. The two things must go together.” Charles H. Spurgeon

The indwelling of the Spirit gives the believer a totally different life enabling them to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel – not perfect – yet more and more like Jesus. That is really the crux of sanctification. The eternal, spiritual life of God is planted in the believer of the Lord Jesus by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to conform them into the likeness of the Son Who was to be the first among many brothers:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17 (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)

Simply put, attempts at reformation – living a Christ-like life – apart from God’s power end in sterility. It’s not going to happen – no matter how the external appears. Indeed, the wording our Lord uses today when He states the unoccupied house was “swept clean and put in order” actually means it was made beautiful, decorated and dressed up. It was getting the “outside of the cup” – the part of the life the world could view – beautified yet the inside remained empty and dead. Sadly, our churches are full of the like. It is far easier to make the outside look appealing to onlookers yet no amount of fluff on the outside will change the heart on the inside. Only God can do that. In speaking to the Pharisees Jesus refers to this very thing and with this I close:

25 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Matt 23:25-26 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • True faith will produce a changed life. It is not me who changes me rather Christ in me who sanctifies me. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing of eternal value. Christ is my Master not me.
  • There is no time like the present for embracing Truth.
  • If I am in Christ, I am a new creature.