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Tom Johns, Dallas, Texas

Luke 11:24-26 reads like this:

“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 swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes 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.”


Usually, most people take some decisive and constructive New Year’s resolutions to make their lives and the lives of others around them better. No matter whether they can keep those resolutions to fruition or they fizzle away in a few days or weeks, these are noble gestures and testify to our heart’s longings and aspirations.

Many a time we hear about people making resolutions to clean up some of their vices, and they make determined efforts to stay off such bad habits. These are all, to some level or other, projections of our mind to make ourselves better and be useful for our families, churches, or workplaces. The passage I quoted above from Luke 11, however, gives us some guidelines in this regard.

Here, Jesus is warning His audience about such efforts particularly when they are left unfinished, or when they had misplaced priorities to begin with.

Let us look at some of the key points to understand the essence of Jesus’ teachings here. He starts by talking about a person who had an impure spirit within him. We do not know how long this spirit occupied this person’s mind and physique. We do not read how this person got rid of this spirit. It could either be through exorcism or by the command of some godly people using God’s authority.

In this story, Jesus does not bother with such details. However, His message was very focused on an important warning to us. We seldom consider it and often gloss over it just thinking that this was just another fascinating story by Jesus.


The next part of His story is about the spirit that is searching for a dwelling place. It is looking for a comfortable place and not a dry place.

1 Peter 5:8 is warning us that our ‘adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’ Peter is more graphic about Satan’s ultimate intentions, whereas Jesus talks about the devil’s passive search for a dwelling place.

Nevertheless, Jesus’ primary focus is yet another one in this story. The same story we read in Matthew 12:44, where the spirit is deciding to return to the same place it was previously expelled from.

Here is a warning for those making resolutions but not finishing up with the process by relying totally upon the Lord to make them happen.

The devil will make frequent attempts to derail our faith and devotion to God. He is hopeful that someday he will crawl back into his previous residence in us.

The focal point of Jesus’ warning is found in verse 25 where we read; “when it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.”

This cleansing is not a bad thing at all. But what that person failed to do was that he kept the inside empty; so, the original spirit found liberty to invite seven other worse spirits and take up residence. This condition made it worse for the person or simply stated ‘it would have been better off not doing the sweeping and cleaning.’

The important lesson Jesus teaches us is that we clean the insides and keep filling our minds and bodies only with godly things. The cleaning is like our New Year resolutions, a human effort, which is bound to fail. However, when we fill our hearts with spiritual things, as we are instructed in Ephesians 5:18-21, God will produce lasting results in us.


In Eph. 5:18-21 we read;

 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Another key verse telling us what needs to occupy our hearts is found in Colossians 3:16

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Both passages speak of what needs to dwell in us.

Let me quote John MacArthur here:

“The word ‘dwell’ means to ‘live in.’ Because every Christian is indwelt and baptized by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation [1 Cor. 12:13], Paul is giving a command for believers to live continually under the influence of the Spirit by letting the word control them, pursuing pure lives, confessing all known sin, dying to self, surrendering to God’s will, and depending on His power in all things. Being filled with the Spirit is living in the conscious presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, letting His mind, through the word, dominate everything that is thought and done.”


Let our hearts be filled with spiritual priorities and never left empty for the devil to find a resting place in us.

Out of the twenty-four hours in a day, how much time is our Lord receiving? How much time are we devoting to entertainment? Do we spend more time surfing through the internet with unprofitable and silly things? How much time do we spend meditating on the scriptures and prayer?

Psalms 119 is a wonderful Psalm describing the longing of the heart for the laws of God.

I am challenging my own heart with these questions; perhaps you would too. Have a blessed year ahead!



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