What Gives a Demon Rest?
43. When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through arid, desolate 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.
A demon takes rest within a person who believes its lies, and will help promote its lies. We open ourselves to its lies, and so it takes up residence within us, and it begins to work its lie in and through us.
If a person receives Jesus, who is called The Truth, and they begin reading and accepting the truth of God's Word, then the demon and its lies are driven out, and it wanders through arid places. Water in Scripture represents grace; and when we receive the demon's lies, then we show it grace, and we graciously give it a home. But, when we stop showing it grace and we stop the lies, it leaves and goes out into arid places, or rather, where its lies can't readily get a foothold and find acceptance.
So a person receives Jesus and begins to read the truth of God's Word and to hear the Holy Spirit instruct him, and all the lies he once believed are swept away, and the light of truth enters. His mind and heart, like rooms, are swept and put in order.
However, in this passage, this house is "empty", though swept and put in order.
The person should not be empty; he should have the Holy Spirit dwelling within him; but this person has received the Word joyfully for a time, but he hasn't entirely committed himself to Jesus, and he doesn't have the Holy Spirit living within himself, or "his house". Jesus refers to this kind of believer in Matthew 13:21 when he says, ". . . and because he does not have firm root within himself, he lasts but a short time."
The demon leaves and tries for a time to find a new home, a new person, to inhabit, but it can't right-off find one who believes its particular lies, so it goes back to the person it had left, and it takes seven other lying demons more evil than itself, and they lay siege to the person's mind and life in order to bring him back under demonic control. They push the person through intrigue to surrender to the old lies again, and because there are now many demons working to regain this one person's mind, the person is being pressured from all sides of his life.
If the person isn't serious about Jesus, then when the demons begin to incite persecution and trouble for him because of his newfound faith, then the original lying demon will most certainly get its house back. And so, "Since [the person's faith] has no root, he remains for only a season; but when trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, he quickly falls away."Matthew 13:21 But if the person is serious about his newfound faith in Jesus, he will suffer for a while, but he'll have God's Holy Spirit within him, giving him determination and strength to press on with the Lord.
Paul said in Hebrews 10:32-39, "Remember the early days of your conversion to Jesus, how you endured a great conflict of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly ridiculed and persecuted; at other times, you were partners with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you yourselves had a better and permanent possession. So do not throw away your confidence; it holds a great reward. You need to persevere so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For it says, 'In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls."
Martin Luther said in one of his sermons in the 1500's, "For where faith begins, there also begins war and conflict."
On the other hand: the unsaved believer may not leave Christianity entirely just because seven or eight demons re-enter him. But since he hasn't fully surrendered himself to Jesus and received the Holy Spirit to lead him into all truth, the demons enter his "empty" house, and they start corrupting the truth of God's Word within the person's mind. They lead him to follow false doctrine and false teachers. In this case, the words are true that the man's situation is many times worse than if he had never heard the Word at all, because now, he's corrupting the truth of Jesus while he's still claiming to be a Christian, and he's leading others within the church to do the same. He's now religious, but he's still unsaved.
Corrupted Christianity is created by people who do not want the offense of the cross, and they don't want to suffer with Jesus, they only want his glory and benefits here and now. These are people who didn't count the cost of following Jesus, but imagined they could receive only good things from his name (i.e. Joel Osteen). But Paul said, "All who would live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." 1 Timothy 3:12
In conclusion, lies are where a demon finds rest, and unrepentant liars are where it finds a comfortable home. The truth of Jesus is what sweeps a person clean and puts their mind and heart in order, just as Jesus said to his disciples, "You are all clean because of the Word I have spoken to you." John 15:3
But having been swept and put in order by God's Word, a person should not be an empty house, but he should dedicate all of himself to Jesus so that the Holy Spirit will abide within him and lead him into all truth. John 14:26