FAITH: Even Worse Than Before
By Tyler Warner
The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus casting out demons. These evil spirits variously caused sicknesses and deformities, drove their victims insane, and compelled them to commit unspeakable evils. And yet these fearful spooks were sent packing at a word from Jesus. In Luke 11:24-26, Jesus gives an intriguing insight into the world of the spirit. He says that a cast-out demon will try to return to its victim, bringing along as many as seven other stronger spirits to retake the body that it lost. “And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Let’s leave aside the theology that is revealed here and examine the principle. We learn from this lesson in demonology that our struggles and sins have a tendency to come back with a vengeance. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. You have a life-changing moment, whether at church, on your own, or at the word of a loved one, and you swear to get your act together. You put down the bottle, you put a filter on your computer, you break up with a boyfriend. For a while, things are great; you’re a new person. But fast forward six months, and you’re right back where you were before – in fact, you’re even worse.
Why does this happen? Often it is because we fail to handle the real issue at the bottom of the behavior. We don’t confront the reason why we’re addicted or handle the pressures that drive us to blow up at our spouse in the first place. Jesus often told those He healed to, “Go and sin no more” – go and don’t make the same mistakes again. When we come to our senses for a moment, we often have enough energy and shame to make a positive change. But you must leverage that clarity to tear out the roots, not just the branches of the problem.
The trouble is, we convince ourselves that we can keep walking on thin ice and not fall in. You cannot. Your toxic friends will keep dragging you down, your bad habits will lead to abuse all over again, and the stress of maintaining your carefully crafted image will depress you once more. You may have had a few tearful trips to the altar only to abandon the Lord as soon as your issues calm down. Until you can let God correct the fundamental flaws, you will keep falling back worse than before.
But Jesus brings us to the cross, where He calls us to die to ourselves along with Him. When you’re dead, when you’ve got nothing left, only then can you be reborn to newness of life with Christ.
Tyler Warner is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville. CCT currently meets on Sunday morning at 9:30am, in the Cahaba Room of the Hilton-Garden Inn on 3230 Edwards Lake Pkwy. Listen to Tyler’s verse-by-verse Bible teaching at CalvaryChapelTrussville.com or Sundays at 2:30pm on WXJC (101.1 FM).