Swept and Garnished (2)

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Friday, February 13, 2009
Luk 11:24-26 (24) When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. (25) And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. (26) Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. In the previous meditation we noted that the language of this text allows for the possibility of an unclean spirit voluntarily exiting his host as a counterfeit of being cast out by a greater power. Note how that this unclean spirit still claims possession of the man that he has left in that he says, “I will return unto my house....” That the unclean spirit still has a claim on the man is evident in that he enters him without resistance and brings seven other spirits more wicked than himself to dwell with him in the man. A further indication of such voluntary departure by unclean spirits may be found in ACT 19:13-17 where some vagabond Jewish exorcists presumed to capitalize on the name and fame of Jesus Christ in their trade. But the evil spirit denied them and their authority over him and far from being cast out by these exorcists instead compelled his host to cast out the exorcists naked and wounded from the house. Now, if they had actually had authority over evil spirits before, why not here? A characteristic of a casting out of a devil/unclean spirit by Jesus Christ is that the devil/unclean spirit was barred from returning to his “house.” For example, when Jesus cast out the unclean spirits which possessed the two tomb-dwellers of the Gergesenes (MAT 8:28-34), they thereafter had to opt to indwell swine. When Jesus healed a tormented, self-destructive child by casting out the evil spirit which afflicted him, He made it permanent: “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” (MAR 9:25) NOTE: Many on Judgment Day will futilely claim to Jesus, “...have we not....in thy name cast out devils?” (MAT 7:22) to whom Jesus will say, “...I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (MAT 7:23). The unclean spirit of which Jesus speaks in our text returns to his house and finds it swept and garnished. MAT 12:44 adds “empty”---nobody else had taken up residence there and so the unclean spirit moved right back in, bringing his companions. Vacant homes are an invitation to vermin. This may serve to remind us that it is inadequate to only “Purge out...the old leaven” (1CO 5:7) or “...cast off the works of darkness” (ROM 13:12). Nature may abhor a vacuum but sin does not. The bad needs to be not only expunged but replaced with good. Cast off the works of darkness, indeed. But also “...put on the armour of light....put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ...” (ROM 13:12-14). “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (EPH 4:28). See also EPH 4:29-32 for further examples of this concept. It is also interesting that an unclean spirit found a “swept and garnished” house to be an attractive dwelling place. Perhaps an argument could be made here against the home in which is never to be found a speck of dust and which is beautifully decorated yet is void of family happiness and/or joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. The form of a nice home is all that is there---it is little more than a museum whose curators value stuff more than souls and may consider pornography to be appropriate garnish. Such a home would be a likely magnet to dark influences which can do great damage amongst family members whose interaction is corrupted by warped priorities and a lack of true love. Solomon put it this way: “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” (PRO 15:16-17) “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” (PRO 17:1)

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