Today in my Bible reading, one verse flashed neon lights at me while I was reading. I’m not really sure why, because it really doesn’t have anything to do with my life at the moment, but I thought that it would make a good blog post.
Today’s post deals with a topic that many of my readers may be uncomfortable with— exorcism. From what I can gather, a majority of Western Christians prefer not to think about demons. We want to believe that demons do not inhabit people in this part of the world, or at this modern time in history. We want to say that belief in demon activity is antiquated and unscientific. We want to tip-toe around the issue, close our ears and our eyes to anything but the material world, and we want to label Christians who regard demons as a very real threat as “weird,” “ungodly,” “fanatical,” etc. This can be expected in a society like ours. America is extremely materialistic, as is most of the Westernized world. We like to consider ourselves extremely scientific and above such “superstitions.” We don’t like it when Christians talk too much about supernatural events like miracle healings and the casting out of demons (which, by the way, go hand in hand—physical problems are often really demonic presences; check out Luke 13:11). However, the reality is that demons are very real and very present. If you don’t like what I’m saying, too bad. I’ve never been one to apologize for what I believe or cater to the watered-down worldview of modern Christendom. I don’t plan on doing so now. If you have a problem with this, don’t complain to me, go open your Bible.
That being said, let us get to the point of this post.
Luke 11:24-26 reads (NASB): “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there, and the state of the man becomes worse than the first.”
An unclean spirit is, of course a demon. To paraphrase: When a demon leaves a person, it looks for a place to settle. When it doesn’t find one, it returns to the person it left. It finds the person empty and clean. So, it moves back in with some of its fellow demons.
The point of the parable is that when a demon is cast out of a person, the person should not be left empty. The void left by the demon must be filled. Filled by what? The Holy Spirit. If the demon tried to return, it will find that the person is totally occupied. God is in the house; there’s no room for the evil. So, if you perform an exorcism, don’t just cast out the demon. Save the soul as well. Remove the evil and share the word of Christ. Chances are, if you just cast out a troublesome spirit in Christ’s name, the person will be very likely to embrace Christ. They have seen His power.
You might be wondering where I am going with this. Chances are, you have never performed and exorcism, and you never will. That is not to say that you can’t, that you won’t have an opportunity, but that it in this part of the world Christians generally do not. I never have. If I were writing to an audience of Christians in India, China, Bengal, or another such country, it would be different. But most of my readers are American, and for us this just doesn’t really apply to us.
Or does it?
Let us replace the words “unclean spirit” with “bad habit.” If you are a recovering Facebook, alcohol, porn, cigarette or drug addict, you can’t just quit the habit and leave the time and energy you spent on your habit empty. You have to fill it with something. You can read, paint, or play golf when you used to get on Facebook. You can chew gum when you used to smoke. You get the idea. A lot of prayer, a lot of effort, and a lot of replacement. It will help the habit from returning. Or suppose you have a friend who is accustomed to hanging around with a bad crowd. If you help him or her to get away from the bad influences, but do not teach him or her how to live for God, he or she will eventually go back to the bad friends to find acceptance and fulfillment. To sum it up: out with the bad, and in with the good.
Hopefully, you have gathered a few things from this post. First off, the principle “out with the bad, in with the good.” Secondly, that Westerners do not often experience heavy and obvious spiritual occurrences simply because we are in Western society. Perhaps I will write more about this later. Thirdly, don’t take for granted what culture, society, and even churches teach or imply. Always search your scriptures with prayer before coming up with conclusions about the truth.
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.