The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 The house left vacant

Scripture:  Matthew 12:43-45

43 "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. 44 Then he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation."
Meditation: What is the point of  Jesus' grim story about a vacant house being occupied by some evil force?  If you knew that someone had a life-threatening disease, would you let that person into your house without proper protection?  Sin and evil are like deadly viruses.  They are especially contagious when we get close to them and allow them to infect us. Jesus warned his followers about leaving their homes and lives unprotected from destructive and evil forces.  It's not enough, however, to simply" clean house" by banishing evil thoughts and breaking with bad habits .  Something has to take their place to fill the void that has been created.

God wants to fill the void in our lives with himself and with the good things he provides for our well-being.  Augustine of Hippo said that our lives have a God-shaped void which only God can fill satisfactory. If we attempt to leave it vacant or to fill it with something else, we will be worse in the end.  What do you fill the void in your life with? Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties.  We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it.  There are two kingdoms in opposition to one another— the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness under the rule of Satan. If we  disobey God's word, we open to door to the power of sin and Satan. If we want to live in freedom from sin and Satan, then our house must be occupied by Jesus where he is enthroned as Lord and Savior.  Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to God and his word?

"Lord, be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home.  May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship."

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(c) 2003 Don Schwager