Return of the Unclean Spirit

close up photography of beige concrete decor

In Matthew, Jesus gave a strange account of a person who has an “unclean spirit” who leaves him. Jesus said, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none” (Matthew 12:43-42 ESV). This is interesting, because it is in contrast to the story of the demons who entered the pigs and went into the water. Water, or the deep, is where demons were thought to live. What’s different here is the the demon passes through waterless places seeking rest.

The restless demon says that it will enter back into the “house” from which it came. But it finds it swept clean and put in order. So the demon goes out and “brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first” (vs. 45). Jesus said that’s what it will be like with this evil generation.

There are lots of points that can be made. First, people should never let their guard down. Just because we are living in a season of peace doesn’t mean the devil isn’t prepared to attack. Second, We shouldn’t be assuming. Evil people clean on the surface and assume they are cool with God. Clearly they are caught off-guard when evil comes back. Finally, it can probably be argued that evil people create an inviting environment for evil spirits. It’s not insignificant that these evil spirits chose a person as their home rather than the “deep” of the sea, where they belong.

In my opinion, Jesus is giving a stern warning that evil shouldn’t be tolerated. He previously said that a tree is known by its fruit. Jesus said, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (vs. 34). We’ve got to do good and be on the lookout for evil.