By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
You cannot help but notice the sharpness of criticisms Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Not only did Jesus call them wicked and adulterous (Matthew 12:39), He compared them to a man who was repossessed by demons due to his own shortcomings.
Matthew 12:43-45 (NIV): “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 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. 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 person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
There is a lot we can learn about the relationship between man and demon from these verses. Once an unclean spirit was excised from a person, it travels through dry places seeking rest without victory (v. 43). If you consider that the gospel of Jesus provides the water of eternal life, it is no surprise the void of God would be a waterless, desolate, and barren place.
John 4:14 (ESV): But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
It is humorous how the demon states it is going to return to the house it left as if it chose to leave in the first place. The reality is the demon was thrown out by God when the person dedicated their life to Christ. Unfortunately, this person lost Christ along the way and when the demon returned, the house was still clean, but empty (v. 44). In an attempt to strengthen its hold on the man, the demon brought reinforcements (v. 45). The number seven in this verse should be considered “many” as seven denotes perfection, whether good or bad. Considering that Christ described the demons as “more wicked”, we are able to observe that demons appear to have degrees of wickedness. Throughout the Bible we see passages that speak on a saved soul straying from righteousness would have been better off to have never known Christ (2 Peter 2:21).
2 Peter 2:21 (NIV): 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.
This parable is consistent with that lesson and a humble reminder that salvation is a marathon we cannot win on our own.