“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26
Many times when I know on short notice that someone is coming over to my house, I will do a few things to try to make up for not doing a full house cleaning. I will sweep the floors and put everything in its place. That goes a long way towards giving the appearance of a clean house, but just a little bit of a closer inspection will reveal that things are not as they seem. A layer of dust on a table or a cobweb in a corner reveals the true state of things. The man in verses 24-26 had done just such a thing with his life. He cleaned it up a bit, got it in order. The world would have applauded him, but it was all superficial. There was no heart purity, no filling of the life with the Spirit of Jesus. And when the tempter comes again, there are no resources for resistance, for everything is merely smoke and mirrors, an illusion that brought a degree of comfort or sense of achievement in the improvement of the life. It’s like someone who goes through rehab and gets free of an alochol addiction only to find themselves soon a slave to pills. Swept and put in order, but still empty. Something will come to fill it.
Many times we find ourselves in this condition. Rather than the effort and sweat and tears needed to get before God for a complete work, we find ourselves content with a quick pass of the broom and shoving everything into the spiritual closet. And so things are not dealt with, only suppressed and hidden. We are not healed and cleansed and the enemy retains his access into our lives. We have not submitted to God, and the enemy will not flee. We want merely to be free of the bad feelings of conviction. We refused to be thoroughly and completely dealt with by God. The fullness of life that He desires to give us, we do without…..and remain empty.
And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? Luke 11:37-40
The Pharisees would have appeared to everyone to have it all together. Their lives were so carefully lived in obedience to the law that few would have looked beyond that. But Jesus saw into the heart and He knew that even with all their outwardly righteous living, they were most unrighteous on the inside. We see this demonstrated over and over as they raged against the good works that Jesus did and His help to the people. The true state of their heart was revealed in the fruit of their life and their attitude toward Jesus and His works. ( Luke 6:43-45) When confronted with a true holiness, superficial religious performance lashes out. Jealous over the beauty of it but unwilling to submit to the obtaining of it.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.” Luke 11:44
On the surface everything appears to be fine. And maybe people can get very close and still not realize the uncleaness because it is so prettily covered up by religion. But just beneath the surface there is something of death that will contaminate those who come in contact with it. (Num 19:16). If the people had known who these Pharisees really were in their heart they would never have held them in such high regard or sought to be taught the things of God by them, but would rather have avoided them lest they also be one contaminated by the pollution of their unholy and unclean hearts.
The true condition of our heart can be disguised and hidden from most people, but God sees through all our attempts at deception. And He desires to bring us into the reality of everything this life is meant to be. It won’t necessarily be easy. The dealings of God rarely are. But the outcome is glorious, for it is “that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Amen!