Clean, But Empty
Matthew 12:43
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.…

A notion prevailed in Chaldea which presents a striking similarity to that appealed to by our Lord in this parable of the evil spirit returning to possess the empty house. It was thought that when once the possessing demons were expelled from the body the only guarantee was to obtain, by the power of incantations, an opposite possession by a favourable demon. A good spirit must take the place of the evil one in the body of the man. This is part of one of their incantations -

"May the bad demons depart!
May they seize upon one another!
The propitious demon,
The propitious giant, -
May they penetrate into his body!" We must try to see the connection in which this parable stands.

I. IT PICTURES THE HISTORICAL FACT CONCERNING. ISRAEL. The nation had, once for all and resolutely, turned out the demon of idolatry when they returned from Babylon to repossess their land. For a long time the land was clean from that sin, empty of that bad spirit; but as Jesus read the bad hearts of those Pharisees, and the mischievous influence of their teachings, it seemed clear to him that the old demon of idolatry had come back in disguise, and brought with him seven other spirits, worse than himself. That generation was more utterly corrupt than even the old ages of violent idolatry. Hypocrisy, self-will, hard-heartedness, pride, malice, were devils morally worse than idolatry.

II. IT REVEALS AN EVER-RECURRING FACT CONCERNING ALL MEN. They are easily satisfied with reforms that merely mean putting aside some evil indulgence. They give up certain habits, and so are clean; but they only turn out the evil and leave his place empty. A soul must be occupied, and if its interest in evil is removed, it must be interested in good. Religion should fill up all empty places, and leave no room for returning evil. The man who relapses into sin after being delivered from its power, almost always goes greater lengths in sin than he went in the early stages. Every relapse is more dangerous than the disease. "It is quite possible that a man who has conquered some old vice or besetting sin may, as a reformed man, pass under the dominion of spirits who are far more plausible and no less evil than the one he has subdued. Instead of one coarse spirit, think of eight subtle intellects crowding into a man's soul." - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

WEB: But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn't find it.

A Natural Improvement, not a Saving Operation
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