Robert Wurtz II
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it 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.”
And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:24-28)
Our passage is a profound revelation of individuals serving as a house for spirits. The Lord Jesus had just cast a demon out of a person in the preceding verses. This is our context. Understand that often times demon spirits become entrenched in a person’s life because they have given themselves over to a particular sin. This is not always the case, but it often is. This “entrenching” (often called “demon possession”) happens when demons are at home in the lives of people. I am using the words carefully. Demons can be as “at home” in a person as we are “at home” in our living room. This often happens as a consequence of ongoing rebelling against God.
In some strange and mysterious way, demonic spirits drink from the lives of rebels. Notice what the Lord Jesus said, “(…) when the unclean spirit goes out of the man in walks through dry places seeking rest and finding none.” The implication is that the demon spirit was not dry (thirsty) when it was possessing his victim. I can see in my mind’s eye the common picture of a person traveling through a hot desert with no water. The demon spirit is thirsty and tired — seeking for a place to rest and drink. Clearly, this is picture language and not literal. The “drink” motif is found throughout the New Testament to describe partaking of something (Matt. 20:22, 26:42; John 4:10, 6:53-55, 18:11, et al). Moreover, the rest motif is another common theme in both the Old Testament and New Testament. It suggests a place where one can be in peace and harmony with their surroundings.
A Place of Rest
We have covered the concept of being a place of God’s rest in many different teachings and writings. So, I will just briefly mention that in Isaiah 66:1-2 God tells us where His place of rest is. It is not in a building or any kind of structure. He looks to a person who is of a broken and contrite spirit and that trembles at his word. Stephen took up this topic in Acts chapter 7 and ran with it. God rests in people who are humble and take His word seriously.
However, there is also a place of rest for demon spirits. Luke 11 tells us that demons walk through dry places seeking rest. We have within this context the Greek word topos from which we get our word topography. When the demon cannot find another place of rest – or in other words – another person that they can feel comfortable either around or in – they return back to the person that they inhabited before. When they return they find that their old house has been cleansed of all of its defilements. Notice that God is not there either. The place is empty. So the demon seizes the opportunity to defile what God set in order — not by himself — but with a team of demons more wicked than the first demon. They return to this house (person) and enter in and dwell there. What a dreadful situation! The blessing of being cleared of demonic troubles became a curse to them.
Making Use of a Distraction
While Jesus was telling this story a woman blurts out some flattering words that Jesus used to declare the solution as to why this person who was demon possessed never went forward with God. The clear implication of what Jesus was saying contextually is that the person heard the word but they did not obey it. He said, “Blessed are they who hear the word of the Lord and keep it.” You will recognize that this is the second half of the qualification for being a place of God’s rest… trembling at God’s word (Isaiah 66:2). Because the person did not keep God’s word, they did not become a place of God’s rest. In other words, God never entered into them by the Holy Spirit. So when the demon returned he didn’t find God there, he found an empty house. There was no “strong man” to defend it (Luke 11:21).
There is no new thing under the sun. I have known of people who did not want the vexation of demons but they also did not want to keep God’s word. And it was only a matter of time before the work that God started in their life was completely ruined and the enemy came back in a much greater force that he was before. Why did it happen? Because the person mistakenly believed that they could remain unaffiliated (if you will) and serve neither God nor the devil. It was a dreadful miscalculation.
A Great Question
We need to ask ourselves a great question. What kind of house am I? Am I a place where God can rest? Or, am I a place where demons can rest? Is God “at home” around me or are demons “at home” around me? What or who are we entertaining by our actions? If we are in rebellion against God we are a place where the enemy can come and drink (as it were). That it to say, the enemy will come and partake of and even participate in our rebellion. The enemy is a willing partaker of other men’s sins. He is “at home” in that environment. James takes up this topic from a different angle.
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:20-25)
James speaks of a person who looks into the mirror of the word of God and rather than doing what it says they forget what kind of person they are. Rather than allowing God’s word to do its work — they ignore it just like the person who was cleared of demons in Luke 11.
Notice James 1:20 that says to be swift to hear and slow to wrath. In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul warns us not to allow the sun to go down on our anger because it will “give place” place to the devil. Here, again, is our Greek word topos from which we get topography. Wrath and anger create a platform (environment) for demonic activity. We must be very careful in that regard. When anger turns to sin we are on dangerous ground. Why? Because the devil is right at home in an angry and bitter person. This is one example of how sin can become a beachhead for the enemy to enter our lives.
Our Lord’s words now are coming into focus, “(…) blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:24-28) How we respond to God’s word will determine whether we are blessed with His Holy Spirit or cursed with a band of demons bent on our destruction. We choose the kind of “house” we are going to be. God sets before us life and death… blessing and cursing. It behooves us to choose life.