This wa…s made clear to me in studying Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 12:43-45
and Luke 11:23-27: “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
The lesson, which looks an awful lot like a picture of relapse, shows us that we cannot simply be purged of the negatives of the past and leave our souls “unoccupied, swept clean, and put in order.” Nature- physically and spiritually-abhors a vacuum. So, in detox and early recovery our lives are cleaned up…and we may be able to keep it so for a while….but unless we strive to “know and follow hard” after the things of God…truth, virtue, godly values, moral character, fruit of the Spirit……in short, the attributes of God reflected in the life and ministry of Jesus Chirst….those “impure spirits” that oppressed us before will return…multiplied and more destructive.
The way to fill our hearts, minds, and all areas of our lives with good things is to intentionally seek association with those who are part of that same journey to the heart and mind of God…..in healthy, welcoming teaching churches, small groups, accountable relationships with those who can instruct and encourage, friendships, recreation activities, entertainment, reading, etc. The practices that foster this new direction in life are called spiritual disciplines and include Bible reading, study and memorization, scripture meditation, worship, prayer, fasting, self denial, simplicity, giving, serving, silence, Sabbath rest, submission, celebration, and solitude.
From time to time we need to examine our lives to assure that we have not settled into lax or even unproductive habits or thought or behavior. Today would be a good day to do a personal inventory.