It is interesting to notice the references to demon possession in the Bible. Search the Old Testament, and there doesn’t seem to be any references to such happening. When we come to the gospels, it seems to be a common occurrence during the time of Christ, but then as we continue to read in the New Testament, through the book of Acts references to demon activity wane, and are non-existent in the epistles.
I don’t know how many demons the Lord cast out in the days of His earthly ministry, except to say there were many. He met some along the road as He walked from town to town. Some were brought to Him by their loved ones. He even cast out some in the short time He spent on the east side of the sea of Galilee in Decapolis.
Jesus used the cleansing of a demon from a man as a parable. Notice:
When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds non. 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. 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. So shall it also be with this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45)
In the greater context, we see the Pharisees spoke against Jesus’ work of casting out demons, claiming that He did so by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of demons. Jesus demonstrated the foolishness of such a charge (Matthew 12:25-27), and then proclaimed,:
…if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Matthew 12:28)
Were these accusations levied against the Lord because He had just case out a demon in their presence, or were they upset with Him doing so on a previous occasion? We cannot know for certain. What we do know is that Jesus cast out many demons, and that He did so by the power of God, not the power of Satan.
When Jesus gave the parable, is it possible that there were some present
from whom He had cast out demons? Was it perhaps a warning to them, lest they allow an unclean spirit back into their lives? Of course, the application of the warning extends beyond demon possession, but to life in general.
Remember in John 5, a multitude of sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people waited at the Sheep Gate for the waters to stir. The Lord came to a lame man and asked, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ He then told the man to rise up, take up his bed and walk. Jesus saw the same man later that day at the temple, and said:
See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you. (John 5:14)
When one has been healed, when one has been cleansed of a demon, when one is given new life and a fresh start, it is imperative that there is a focus on good things and a purging of evil things. We don’t know what caused the man’s infirmity—Jesus did. And the Lord warned him to abstain from sin, lest something worse come his way. Neither do we know the circumstances that resulted in unclean spirits coming into the lives of the people whom Jesus cleansed, but the Lord knew. His words to them were much like His warning to the healed man of John 5—do something positive with your life. Don’t leave an open door for wickedness to return.
This is a truth, not just of those who were healed or cleansed of an evil spirit, but for all who come to the Lord. By the precious blood of Christ, those who are Christians have received the forgiveness of sins. We need to fill our lives up with the good things available in Christ Jesus. No longer should our focus be on wickedness; the Lord has purged the evil from our lives—how dare we invite it back in. But it is not enough to just not go back to our former wickedness; we need to fill ourselves up with the goodness of the Lord; we need to become
diligent students and avid doers of the will of God. If we have not filled our heart with good things, then we’ve left an invitation and open door for wickedness to again take charge of our lives.
Jesus said that the unclean spirit came back to the empty heart, and brought with him seven other spirits, more evil than he was. Though the man was cleansed, the end result was worse than the beginning. Hear the words of the apostle Peter regarding those who have come to Christ, but afterward turn back to the world:
…if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:20-21)
Let’s receive the cleaning of our souls, and then fill our lives each day with the will of God. If we’re filled with the good, there will be no room for the evil to enter again.