Swept and Garnished
Luke 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. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words in rebuttal of gainsayers who had just accused Him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils (LUK 11:14-15). The parallel account in MAT 12:22-45 shows that the scribes and Pharisees were the particular offenders and target of His rebuttal (see MAT 12:24; MAT 12:38). The sons of those wicked religionists were presuming to cast out devils themselves (LUK 11:19) but from the way Jesus' rebuttal was worded, there is a legitimate question as to whether they were casting out devils or if something else was going on. Mind that Jesus did not say, “When the unclean spirit is cast out...,” but rather, “When the unclean spirit is gone out...” (and he later returns to the house from which he “came out”). The phrase “cast out” implies an effectual removal of a spirit against his will but the phrases “gone out” and “came out” allow for the possibility of a voluntary departure which conceivably would look like a casting-out to an undiscerning observer. The person oppressed by the unclean spirit would appear to be relieved in both cases. Considering that Lucifer is the great ape of God who desires to be like God (ISA 14:12-14) and worshipped as God (2TH 2:3-8), it should be no stretch to conclude that a counterfeit casting-out of a devil would be part of his package of “...power and signs and lying wonders” (2TH 2:9) by which he and his agents deceive men. It is interesting that the departed unclean spirit in our text “...walketh through dry places, seeking rest...” It seems strange that an unclean spirit would seek rest since wicked spirits have such a knack for disruption and unrest. Consider what type of spirit would be in the thick of a schismatic upheaval in a gospel church where some might be “...giving heed to seducing spirits...” (1TI 4:1), for example. Yet here this unclean spirit seeks rest---but how? and from what? We know that the Lord Jesus Christ represents unrest to unclean spirits since they know that He represents their future torment (MAT 8:29) and they were very discomforted by His person and word at His first advent (MAR 1:23-24; MAR 3:11; LUK 4:41, etc.). We know that wicked spirits find no rest in a church or soul where the word of God is magnified as the measure of all things since John tells saints to try the spirits by the word which the Holy Ghost gave the apostles (1JO 4:1-6). Whatever represents Jesus Christ and His gospel would be a “dry place” to an unclean spirit looking for a house where he can “rest.” This may be saying something to the person who is looking for more garnish (adornment, decoration, embellishment) than gospel and who deems the services of a doctrine-emphasizing church as “dry.” Let compromising “seekers” and compromised “seeker-friendly” churches ponder this fact dryly: unclean spirits (per our text) can be seekers. But what is “dry” to an unclean spirit is precious moisture to such as “...thirst after righteousness” (MAT 5:6), who know Christ is their righteousness (1CO 1:30; 2CO 5:21) and who will accept no substitutes for the ungarnished gospel which declares His love and His will nor for an ungarnished church which preaches it. Such as these find water that is numbing “dry ice” to unclean spirits: “...Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive...” (JOH 7:37-39). They find in a “dry” church with a “dry” gospel what unclean spirits do not find there: rest in an ungarnished Savior Who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you [that's duty, TB], and learn of me [that's doctrine, TB]....and ye shall find rest for your souls” (MAT 11:28-29).