When we are motivated we can accomplish a tremendous amount. The old saying is true, “When there is a why, there is a way.” I have seen it many times in my ministry. Someone has a strong reason for getting their life in order; it may be to save their marriage, or avoid trouble with the law, or to keep from losing their job. They are very motivated. The person proceeds to make real changes, they cast their demon out and get their house in order.
Jesus tells a parable along a similar thought. It is about a demon who has gone out from a person. The person gets his life all clean and in order. But the demon returns and finds the house all empty and put in order. The demon basically says this is a better place to live now, it is clean and empty. So he goes and gets seven more demons who are worse than himself to live in the man with him. Jesus concludes his parable by stating, “the last state of that person is worse than the first” (Mat. 12:43-45).
Do you see the parallel with the motivated person and Jesus’ parable? How many times have you seen people get their life in order for a period, but then open themselves up to even greater dangers and misery in the future. They get comfortable. Life has returned to “normal.” But they haven’t really changed their heart. They aren’t committed to Jesus, they seldom read the Word of God or pray. Thus, they slowly slip back into old patterns, but this time they go deeper and farther down. Their is less motivation for recovery and pretty soon they are dealing with, not just one, but multiple demons in their life.
Jesus parable contains an important insight for us. It is not enough to just make an empty, orderly life. If we leave our lives empty, Satan will take opportunities through our evil world to fill up our lives. Jesus is saying we must cast out the demon and invite the spirit of God to indwell within us. We have to fill up our lives with the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). We must focus on the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). We have to constantly seek to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). We have to keep the demons out! A clean, empty, orderly life may feel good, but it means there is abundant space to be filled. What we allow to fill the clean space will determine our future!