|Return of the evil spirit|
|作者 John Chan|
Topic: Matthew 12:43-45
The Return of the Unclean Spirit
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”
What does this parable mean?
To understand this parable, we must understand the context behind it. This parable is at the end of the chapter, there are 42 more verses before the parable that we must read! There were actually 5 encounters Jesus had with the Jews leading up to this parable.
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guitless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
- Jesus and His disciples have no home, foraging for food. (Matthew 8:20: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”)
- Pharisees point out that Jesus and His disciples are breaking the law of Moses (Exodus 31:14-15: “You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.”)
- How does Jesus respond? Using scripture (beating them at their own game)
- David eating the holy bread- 1 Sam 21:1-9
- David running away from King Saul who is attempting to murder him - Meets priest Ahimelech, asking for food- Priest Ahimelech only has holy bread that is reserved for the priests in the temple (Levites)
- But Priest Ahimelech ends up giving the holy bread to David. “So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.”
- Priests in the temple breaking sabbath
- Jesus points out how flawed and imperfect the OT is
- How are the priests expected to worship God and do works in the temple on the sabbath if all work is forbidden during the sabbath?
- Subliminal message that the OT is imperfect (foreshadowing the NT)
- The Jews were stupid to try to make a big deal out of this! Deut 23:25: “If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.”
--- verses 1-8 lead to the 2nd encounter between the Jews and Jesus---
“He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.”
- Jesus again refers to scripture? Deut 22:4: “You shall not see your neighbor’s donkey or ox fallen on the road and ignore it; you shall help to lift it up.”
- Now the Pharisees are mad, twice Jesus has beaten them at their own game. Pharisees seeking to destroy Jesus! (v14)
Between encounter #2 and encounter #3, verse 15 happened? “When Jesus became aware of this (Pharisees trying to plot against Him), he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them.” *keep this verse in the back of your minds*Encounter #3
“Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the rule of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his
kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me
scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
- The Pharisees continue to try to find any little fault Jesus may have but Jesus outsmarts them again and proves that he is innocent.
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil?
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
- Jesus asks the Pharisees why quote scripture if your intention is evil? (v34)
- The good person brings good things out of a good heart… the evil person brings evil things out of an evil heart (v35)
- There is a greater, underlying issue with the Pharisees? their hearts! (*very important in understanding the parable of the unclean spirit*)Encounter #5
“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth…”
- Pharisees asking Jesus for another sign. What were the Pharisees' hidden motive here?
Was it to really witness a sign and believe He was Christ or try to trap Jesus again?
Remember, many signs were already performed in verse 15! (“many crowds followed him and he cured all of them). And even before chapter 12, Jesus had already performed many signs!
- Jesus cleanses a leper (Matthew 8:3)
- Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:13). This was the story when the centurion tells Jesus he is not worthy enough for Jesus to come under his roof to heal his servant so Jesus heals the servant without even seeing him.
- Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law (who had a fever, and just by touching her hand) and many who were possessed with demons (Matthew 8:14-17)
- Jesus stills the storm (Matthew 8:26)
- Jesus banishes demons into a herd of swine (Matthew 8:31-32)
- Jesus heals a paralytic (Matthew 9:6-7)
- Jesus heals a woman who touched his cloak (Matthew 9:21)
- Jesus resurrects a girl (the girl was the daughter of a leader of a synagogue!)
- “But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district” (Matthew 9:25)
- Jesus heals the blind (Matthew 9:29-30)
- Jesus heals the mute (Matthew 9:32-34)
- The Pharisees here had already begun to accuse Jesus of being the ruler of demons. “But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.” (v34).
- How many more signs do the Pharisees need to see from Jesus?!
- The Pharisees were unhappy they kept losing to Jesus at their own game! Pharisees are supposed to be well versed in the OT, the top of their class, but why do they keep losing to this Jesus guy? Just imagine how the Pharisees were feeling!
- The Pharisees didn’t want to see a sign! They just wanted another opportunity to TRAP
Jesus! (Matthew 12:14)The parable
Pharisees vs. Jesus
- Insincere, jealous, prideful, fear of losing authority, seeking revenge - Do not want to learn, solely want to trap Jesus
- Difficulty with personal ego vs accepting truth - Hearts filled with malintention, selfish ambition, evil Jesus: - Constantly defending Himself against the Pharisees and proving He is innocent - Carrying out God’s mission despite Pharisees disapproval and accusations - Sounds like Jesus is angry at the Pharisees (“you brood of vipers!..”- Matthew 12:33)
All these encounters above (5) lead us to the parable of the unclean spirit, starting in verse 43.
Let’s read this parable again: “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’
When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”
Now since we know the context of what’s going on, what does this parable mean?
Why did Jesus tell this parable to the Pharisees after everything that went on before? After all 5 encounters?
- The Pharisees are like this person!
- The Pharisees believed they were always in the right… they thought they were 100% absolutely righteous!
But instead their hearts were plagued with jealousy, revenge, pride, and seeking power!
- They believed they had “good” hearts and believed they were using scripture correctly but they had underlying issues with jealousy, pride, and authority! These evil traits prevented the Pharisees from fully accepting God’s words (OT at that time and Jesus’ teachings during his missionary). They only portrayed a superficial meaning of quoting
scripture with the wrong intention to trap Jesus!
- This parable is speaking about our hearts… when we choose to make a change in our lives and to believe in Jesus… it is a 2 step process… 1) getting rid of our badhabits and selfish desires and 2) making sure we are filling that void now with God’s words
- The Pharisees were unable to rid themselves from jealousy and pride. They attempted to do step 2 (filling their hearts with God’s words) but were unable to do so because they couldn't accomplish step 1 (cutting out bad habits and selfish desires from their hearts).
- The Pharisees had a fear of losing authority. God’s words were unable to fill their hearts because there was no room for them to be implanted! Their hearts were plagued with evil! God’s words just superficially touched their hearts and they only understood the do’s and don’t and could only quote them without fully understanding them.
- Like Jesus said in Matthew 12:33-35… “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers!
How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure.”
- Jesus perfectly sums up the Pharisees’ hearts and character:
- Matthew 23:23-27: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without
neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
How the parable connects to us
- When we choose to make a change in our lives and to commit to God, it is a 2 step process:
- 1) getting rid of our bad habits and selfish desires
- 2) making sure we filling that void now with God’s words Real world examples:
- Painting: must remove old paint first before applying new paint. Removing old paint is a headache! Most time consuming part! Requires the most effort - Flooring/cement: must remove old flooring/cement before applying new
flooring/cement. Removing is the hardest part!- If we don’t remove the old paint or the old flooring, the final project will be a disaster! More prone to deteriorate. A waste of materials!
- An abscess. For an abscess, need to do an I&D (incision and drainage) and drain the abscess. After draining or removing, need to pack it with packing (packing looks like a long piece of shoelace that is coated with antibiotics). Packing, in this sense, is like God’s words. If we don’t pack the dead space properly, bacteria will
grow and a new infection will occur! (like this parable- 7 more evil ghosts will come!). And the last state is worse than the first state!
- The idea is when we remove something, we have to fill the empty space or else more bad things will grow. 2 step process!
- Are we practicing this 2 step process in our own lives?
- We attend church every Sunday but is God’s words really penetrating our hearts or just superficially touching it? What is the point of us sitting here every Sunday for God’s words to just scratch the surface of our hearts?
- Are our hearts filled with distractions, worldly desires, selfish ambitions that prevent God’s words from being implanted? Are there abscesses in our hearts that we need to remove?
- Whether it be the desires of money, fame, glory, lust, jealousy, worldly pleasures, we must get rid of them
- James 1:21- get rid of ALL moral filth - “Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of
wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save souls.”
- Need to understand and be aware that we may have an abscess or even multiple abscesses in our hearts. If we aren’t aware of them and do not try to remove them, then everything we do is meaningless, Jesus’ teachings will just touch the surface of our hearts… we won’t be able to grow.
- Have our hearts become callused and to the point of being numb to our bad habits? Do we even care anymore? It might even be hard for us to realize how much evil we have in our hearts because society says it’s ok. “David, it’s ok to get drunk, it’s fun to get drunk. David, it’s ok to smoke weed, it’s legal now. David, it’s ok to vape, it’s ok to smoke. Fornication is ok, everyone is doing it. David, you’re young right now, make as much money as you can, and forget about everything else.” It’s sad because we live in a society where all these things that are considered evil in the eyes of God are deemed ok. But let me ask you, are we to follow man’s standard or God’s standard? I don’t know about you, but I want to follow God’s standard.
- Bottom line, how can we ever grow as God’s children if our hearts are bombarded with a jungle of bad habits, selfish worldly desires, and ugliness?
- Removing is painful, but needs to be done. Requires a lot of work (removing old paint vs putting on new paint)
- Matthew 16:24- “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
- What does it mean to deny ourselves? We must give up what we want vs what God wants for us! We must give up our worldly desires to serve God!
- You might ask, David, isn’t that kinda crazy? I want to accomplish things in life!
- Matthew 6:33
- “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you”
- If we put God first in our hearts, I truly believe God will take care of us
- James 4:17
- “Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.”
- Are we making the effort to pull out the weeds and plaque in our hearts?
Do we even care?
- How do we remove the filth in our hearts?
- For starters, we must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16)
- For the brothers and sisters who have already been baptized, we must continue to pray for forgiveness if we sin (1 John 1:9)
- We must make the effort to do so!
- And when we finally succeed in removing our bad habits, we must now fill our hearts with God’s words.
- John 10:27-28
- “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”
- We must store God’s words in our hearts to regulate our human behaviors. Sometimes we become too selfish, too greedy, and we might end up unknowingly denying Jesus (like what Peter did three times). We might lose sight of what’s worth fighting for in this world. I truly believe that without God’s words, we are lost in this world.
- Jeremiah 31:33
- “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
- Again, how can God’s commandment be written in our hearts if there is no space in our hearts?
- There are only two things that should be filling our hearts- blood and God’s words. And without them- we are dead. Both physically and spiritually.
Conclusion Matthew 13:1-9
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rock ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no
depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
It’s so fitting that on the very same day, after Jesus’ 5 encounters with the Pharisees and the parable of the unclean spirit, he mentions the parable of the sower in the start of the very next chapter (chapter 13). *This is how the Bible should be read- there is a natural, pragmatic flow of the Bible.
We should not be fishing out scriptures to fit our own agenda!*
I mention this parable because I want to ask ourselves… Where are our hearts right now?
Are our hearts filled with fertile soil? Or are they filled with rocky ground? Thorns and bushes?
Whatever the environment, we must make sure to pull out any weeds that may be preventing us from giving our best to God
Written by David Chen. Presented to brother Chan July 10, 2021
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