Not becoming a habitat for evil

This weekend I preached on the parable of the unclean spirit who departs and then returns to find the home empty. He finds the empty, clean and swept house to be a wonderful habitat for evil.

Mt 12:43–46 ESV

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes 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. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

I do not want my body and soul to become a habitat for evil. I think that repentance is good. It is good and honorable to turn away from sin. I should be sorrowful that I have sinned against the Lord and against my neighbor.

But now I am also concerned that I do not sweep and put in order my soul so that I can fill it with my own good works. The righteousness of my own good works is empty in the sight of God. If I repent of my sin and seek to build my life on a foundation of doing good deeds, I have become a desirable habitat for evil. The habitat for evil is a dwelling place where God is no longer considered necessary. When I attempt to build the foundation of my life on my own good works, I am living a life empty of God’s promises of hope and mercy.

Jesus tells this parable to show the empty, fruitless promises of attempting to live a life that is absent of faith in God and filled with faith in our own good works. He is specifically addressing the message of the Pharisees. Jesus is also addressing the falsehood that the ultimate expression of the Christian faith is a moral life that abhors evil and seeks our own good works.

When Amos commanded the people to hate evil and do good, he was pointing the people to do the good of God. We miss the point when we hate evil and seek our own good instead of the good of God.

Praise God that Jesus Christ goes to the cross and the tomb. On the cross and in the tomb the vanity of attempting to defeat evil and death on the basis of our own good works is revealed. In our suffering and in our death evil tries to squat and take up residence. When Jesus defeats sin, death, and the devil, he kicks out from our lives the power of evil to squat and shows to us the fullness of life in his love and promise.

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