In Luke 11:24-26 and Matthew 12:43-45 Jesus describes the plight of a demon who leaves its habitation. We must keep in mind that the manner of teaching in the Jewish society is not as it is in the Greek or gentile world. The Greeks might say: “The Lord is my Leader,” but the Jews would say: “The Lord is my Shepherd!” Where the Greeks would say: “What I believe is based upon the teachings of the word of God,” the Jews would say: “I am built upon the Rock!” The Greeks would use many words to describe a situation, while the Jews would use word pictures or parables to describe a circumstance.
Jesus taught in a manner that his audience, the Jews, would understand. When he spoke of the dry places, he was not saying that a demon has the ability to walk or seek out or speak or defend its position by taking other spirits or demons back to its former dwelling. He was describing a situation in metaphor, just as Paul did concerning the assembly of the people of God in 1Corinthians 12:14-20. Here Paul described the value of diversity of ministries within a group of believers by expressing the value of the different functions of the members of a physical body. He even attributed the ability of speech to the foot and the ear to get his point across. God uses metaphor frequently in his word as a valuable tool of expression.
The Preacher says, “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14). Here we have life compared to a fountain of water. Death would be the opposite or the dry place as in Luke 11:24 or the desert wilderness, also referred to as the “shadow of death” in Jeremiah 2:6. When I find that I have a habit born in the life of Adam, and it is hindering my growth in Christ, I pray that I might be enabled to remove it from my life. I can say this habit has a means of demonstration in my life as long as I give it place. Once I deny the habit access to my body, it is no longer in the land of the living. One might say it is in the “dry places” of which the Bible is speaking here in Luke 11:24, or Matthew 12:43.
In Luke 11:25 we see the demon returning to find its former dwelling cleaned and looking really great. The picture here is that of a person who got rid of whatever consumed his life before, but never filled the vacancy with Christ. He is just living a clean and morally good life. Sooner or later boredom will come without a relationship with Jesus, or there will appear an ache for something more (Romans 8:20-23). Without knowing how or with what to fill this void or ache, one reaches back for what seemed to satisfy at another time. One tends to forget the pain and errors of the past during a time of crises. When one is hungry long enough, one will devour just about anything. This next time, however, one’s life is consumed to a greater degree than at first (Luke 11:26).
I believe we all have our demons, and we have addressed them at one time or another. Under ordinary circumstances, the demons will be cast out by the Spirit of God through prayer and filling our hearts and minds with the word of God. It is the Holy Spirit who accompanies our prayers and our studies (Romans 8:26). Fear is a demon and God’s word says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1John 4:18). Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” It seems not only that a Christian can be overcome in a fault, but also that there is a need for another to come beside the weaker Christian in order that he may help him win the spiritual battle within his heart.
If we are to consider only the facts as revealed in the word of our God, can we honestly say that we are troubled by an unseen spirit world? Would our God give permission to an ungodly, horrendous and unseen spiritual entity to inhabit and possess an infant child? The words used in Mark 9 for this little boy are paidion (G3813) translated “child” and paidiothen (G3812) also translated “child” but with reference to an even earlier period in the boy’s life. In Matthew 19:13-14 and Mark 10:13-15 the same word (G3813) is used of the children that Jesus blessed, taking them up “in his arms” (Mark 10:16). For the same account in Luke 18, they are called “infants” (G1025), and Jesus called them children (G3813), saying that “Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child (G3813) shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:15-17).
Adam rebelled from God’s authority and brought upon our race untold horror, pain and fragmentation. It is he, not God, who is responsible for the terrible state in which some children are born. It is the sin of rebellion that brought upon all of us the horror we see in our world. Jesus came to cast it all out and to establish the Kingdom of God in our hearts. If God doesn’t rule in our hearts, he’ll never rule anything in our lives. The Kingdom is within man. Such was the case in Genesis before the fall, and such is the case in the New Testament with those born again. It is spiritual warfare and the entire struggle is within man. We are bound up in spiritual evil from birth, and Jesus has come into our lives to give us the victory over Adam’s realm within by bringing us to the cross. We die with him, and are raised a new creature. The Kingdom of God is ours, but we need to learn how to live in this new realm. Little by little the demons are cast out, and more and more we learn to abide in Christ. Praise God for his mercy and patience.