When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Matt. 12:43 KJV
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One of the prominent features of the ministry of Jesus Christ was teaching. He used every available opportunity to improve on the knowledge of the disciples. The occasion in today’s scripture was one of them. In the course of question and answer session, something that became a norm between Jesus Christ and the Pharisees, Jesus Christ suddenly chipped in the teaching that resulted in the scripture for today. In that teaching, he made them aware that the life of a delivered person can go for the worse if he does not do the needful after experiencing deliverance. The next few devotionals will be spent meditating on this teaching that is covered in Matt. 12:43-45.
He started out in the book of Matthew, chapter 12, verse 43 to inform of the journey of an unclean spirit after leaving someone. Of course, his statement confirms the fact that indeed, an unclean spirit can and does indeed leave people in a process that is called deliverance. Deliverance it is because the spirit in man is what determines the action of a man. It can be very domineering and decisive in the life of a man. The spirit in a man helps to activate thoughts of a man. When an individual avails his/ her soul to be used by a spirit in a voluntary action, there can be no case of wrongful occupation but once an individual decides against the occupation of his/her soul by a spirit, then there is the case of wrongful or involuntary occupation and because of the domineering nature of spirits in men, it will require a spirit with greater ability to push this already settled spirit out of the man – Matt. 12:22-37. This process of ejection of this occupying spirit is what is generally referred to as deliverance.
There is no denying the fact that most people before accepting Christ into their lives and taking the decision to operate a life similar to his, they had a lifestyle which unknown to them was being run by a spirit. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour and taking a decision to live a new life implies that the individual is desiring to replace existing spirit with a new spirit that the Psalmist calls the right spirit – Ps. 51: 10. The decision to accept Jesus Christ and the resulting salvation may be instant, but the deliverance process needs to follow else the individual will be professing to being a candidate for salvation but the behaviour of the person will be very contrary – Jms. 1:22. It is a case of a soul saved from eternal damnation but a personality with character that differs. In such scenario, the spirit ties the person down to the character he/she was known with before accepting Christ but the soul is hungry for things of Christ. A typical case of a willing spirit and a weakened flesh – Matt. 26:41. Not weak in terms of what it is used to doing but weak to what it is expected to do.
Jesus Christ in Matt. 12:43 says when such a spirit which he called unclean leaves a man. Yes! It becomes unclean because it operates contrary to the supreme Will of God that Christ represents. To the individual before accepting Christ, the operating spirit is clean, positive and normal but accepting Christ becomes like a spiritual eye opener that reveals the negativity of such spirit and the need to change it.
It is very true that you may have been introduced into Christianity and got baptised eventually into it or because you were born into it, you got baptised at a young age and made to confirm your Christian position when you became an adult, but was any move made to identify and if necessary remove the operating spirit in you? If no, then no wonder you are still manifesting those negative traits that run contrary to Christian life. No wonder you always find it difficult to operate in biblical principles. Yes you have been enjoying the reward of a new life in Jesus Christ with all those breakthroughs but your person has not changed because you were not delivered from that spirit that was occupying you before you were introduced to Jesus Christ.
You cannot be classified as born again if the old spirit is not replaced by the new one which is the Holy Spirit and until that happens, it is going to be the case of new wine in old wine skin – Eph. 4:22-24. Until you are born again, you cannot manifest new character and attitude. It is an experience that must follow your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. If this has not happened you are still very much the old wine in action but the new wine in name only – Matt. 9:14-17. That will not be sufficient to make you see yourself as a Christian. The people in Antioch who first called the disciples Christian did not only hear what they said but also saw their conduct – Acts 11:20-21. Your conduct is what makes you a Christian just as Jesus Christ himself advised that we let our light shine before men that they may see our good works not hear our good works – Matt. 5:16. One who finds it easy to slide into pre-Christian life conduct at every opportunity is definitely still being occupied by that same old spirit. He or she needs deliverance.
Have you done an honest assessment of yourself? How easy do find yourself operating in all those old ways of yours without any form of regret? It may be an indication of your status. Plead with the Lord to help you complete your journey into Christianity. With divine direction, approach a trusted Christian leader and/or mentor of your choice because this is one act that you cannot do on your own. If you make a good choice of a spiritual mentor, one divinely directed, there is no doubt that old things will pass away and all things will become new in your life (2Cor. 5:17) and you will begin to leave a life of peace and comfort in the Lord.
May God help you complete your Christian journey in Jesus name. Amen.