Text: Luke 11:14-28 | Listen to Message
Presence, Not Performance
Imagine your city is being invaded by a murderous foreign army hell-bent on your destruction. Each passing day, the enemy lines inch closer and the sounds of war grow louder. The air is filled with the stench of gunpowder, smoke, and death. Soon, you can see the conflict from your front porch. Knowing you need to take decisive action, you rally your family together: “All right, everybody, here’s what we’re going to do: we need to clean the house like we’ve never cleaned before!”
Whaaaat?! That’s absurd! Everyone knows a clean home isn’t a good strategy against the enemy that’s come knocking at your door.
So if you wouldn’t prepare for physical warfare this way, why would anyone prepare for spiritual warfare this way? Here’s what I mean:
In Luke 11:24-26 Jesus tells a short story warning of the perils of self-reformation. A person who finds himself recently liberated from demonic oppression responds by engaging in a regimen of moral improvement. He decides this is the perfect time to clean up his life by sweeping, taking out the trash, and putting everything in order. On the surface, his self-reformation is a success: his life appears neat and tidy. But Satan is undaunted by his moralistic cleanliness. In fact, he considers it an invitation to come right in and make himself and seven of his minions right at home.
Jesus’ point is clear: Moral reformation without Gospel regeneration is a complete disaster.
See, nature might abhor a vacuum, but Satan loves the emptiness created by morality for morality’s sake. In fact, cleaning up your own life is a surefire way to ultimately lose the invisible battle between Light and darkness. Let’s face it: we’re simply no match for an adversary we can’t even see!
Consider another analogy. Let’s say you got tired of having weeds in your yard so you decided to spray your whole lawn with Roundup – the Agent Orange of the botanical universe. What do you think would happen? You’d get rid of the weeds in the short term, but that bare dirt would become like a blank canvas and your weed problem would return with a vengeance! The best way to control weeds is by having a thick, healthy turf in the first place – and then weeds get crowded out and don’t have any room to take root and grow.
This is like what we need spiritually: We don’t need to be good for goodness’ sake; we need the presence and power of God’s Spirit living in us. Satan is greater than us, but Christ is far greater still. And when God takes over our lives and fills us with His fruit, there’s simply no place for Satan’s schemes to take root.