Matthew 12:44 – “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.” NASB
I realize that this passage is talking about unclean spirits returning to the house (person) they possessed and reoccupying. But I want to use it as a catalyst and spring into a different direction and hopefully, you will not consider me violating the scripture in doing so. I ask that you give me a little latitude in this discussion and see if you can receive what I am offering.
I suggest that this could also describe the man or woman that is “empty.” Their hands are not dirty, they are not full of filth, they are empty. Consider for a moment the situation in which a person has had a phenomenal experience in God and received deliverance. The problem with this person is that they did not progress and allowed their cleansing to become more foul which results in a greater foulness than before (v.45).
This person has been set free but allows his freedom to be turned into far worse bondage. How could that happen? How could anyone allow that to happen? It is not by drifting into gross or blatant sin. It is by simply allowing himself to remain empty. The spirit returns and “finds the house empty.”
I have several questions regarding this person. The first is “Why did he remain an idler?” “Why did he allow his life to remain empty?” Those are questions that demand an answer if we are to avoid a similar peril. I am not suggesting that you are, have been, or will be demon-possessed but you can be influenced by the devil and even demonized if you allow the enemy to steal your blessing.
Did this transpire because the man was lazy? Probably not. Was it because there were no worthwhile tasks he could have pursued? Hardly. Was it due to indifference? Possibly but probably not. Okay, then “Why? What was the root cause?” I suggest that it is very possible and even probable that he, like many others, allowed a fatal misconception to rule in his heart and mind. A misconception as to what it means to be a follower of Christ and a Christian.
I believe he was likely void of true understanding or right understanding of what sainthood involved. He may have been eager to reach the goal of pious living, but his approach made that reality an impossibility. I believe there are some key elements and warnings that, if heeded, will prevent us from suffering the same plight.
His First Blunder Was in Thinking That Harmlessness is Holiness. He confused emptiness with saintliness. He appears to have thought that goodness consisted in doing no wrong. His mistake was a common mistake. There are many whose greatest satisfaction and testimony are they ‘do no harm.’ I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told, “Well, I’m not hurting anyone and I’m a good person.” Some seem to expect to sprout angel wings at any time because there are so many ugly things they do not do. The list of sins they do not participate in would fill a small encyclopedia, but the list of burdens and useful tasks they are doing would be a blank page.
That is not a picture of Christian living and Christlikeness. A bee is not prized because it does not sting but because it produces honey. A garden is not treasured because it has no briars or weeds but because of its flowers and fruit. A rose is not sought after simply because of a lack of thorns but because of the beauty of its roses and their fragrance. If doing no harm made one a saint, then we could make another Paul from a wax statue because it does no harm.
Jesus said, “Take up your Cross and follow Me.” He said, “Take My yoke upon you.” Christianity is action-oriented and following Jesus involves action. Jesus said, “If you love me, Keep My Commandments.”
The misconception of ‘doing no harm’ never seems to die. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day formed a religion of “Do Not” rather than “Do.” The “thou shalt not” were so voluminous they required experts to define and determine them. They were heavy burdens that no one could bear. There were so many things you could not do on the Sabbath that a man would have to be a virtual computer to keep track of them all. In fact, you could not even catch a flea without being guilty of hunting on the Sabbath.
This mentality and misconception produces ‘monasticism” and plunged the church into the dark ages of idleness. People sought to live a life of “sanctified selfishness.” This man’s evil was two-fold. The world needed the light He now possessed but he kept it hidden. He lost the strength and power he could have brought by giving light, but he kept it hidden.
I realize that I am being frank, and some may even consider me harsh, but we have a mission and a commission. Freely we have received, and the requirement of God is that we give freely. Peter and John said to the lame man, “Such as I have, I give.” Luke 6:38 tells us to give and it shall be given. What we give we get and the more we give the more we get.
God bless you and I want to address this a bit more in the next devotional. Have a fantastic day!