Three steps forward and two steps back. Or, we might say, two steps forward and one step back.
In the teaching before us this morning Jesus says, “Two steps forward, three steps back.” The difference here, the steps backward outnumber the steps forward. This isn’t the way things go, right? Don’t things eventually progress forward?
Here it is.
A man has a demon but that demon is cast out! He is free and liberated. That spirit now wanders about seeking another person to torment. If the spirit is unsuccessful, he eventually decides to conduct a return visit and see what has become of that person he formally inhabited. If he finds that person habitable, he goes out and seeks other spirits to help him inhabit that person again. These other spirits are stronger too.
But…what does it mean when that spirit “finds the house swept and put in order”? This it seems to me is the foundational question before us. If the state of the house is swept and in order, then the spirit and his cronies enter. It seems to me that when a person is liberated if he/she does not follow through with a godly repentance and put on works in keeping with that repentance, then their “house” is more or less open to spirits again!
On the other hand, if liberation is managed by contrition, a change in heart, and a specific action plan which gives expression to a new life, then the door is shut.
Here are a few thoughts. 1) The reprieve of a temporary liberation holds no hope. 2) You must work out your salvation with a sober-minded posture. 3) If not, your latter state will be worse then your former state.
This message comes from Luke 11:24-26. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.