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The Return of the
Evil Spirit


             CHAPTER 29


              Jesus  does  not  identify  this  passage  as a parable,
         because it is not at first.  Jesus teaches how an  individual
         becomes demon possessed after he has a single demon cast out.
         He then uses a house in a parabolic  statement.  Next, in the
         scriptural  and historical context, Jesus uses the truth in a
         parabolic way.  The Parable of the Return of the Evil  Spirit
         is found in Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26.

The Story

                            "When  an evil spirit comes out of a
                   man, it goes through arid places  seeking
                   rest and does not find it.  Then it says,
                   `I will return  to  the  house  I  left.'
                   When  it  arrives,  it  finds  the  house
                   unoccupied,  swept  clean,  and  put   in
                   order.    Then  it goes and takes with it
                   seven  other  spirits  more  wicked  than
                   itself,  and  they  go in and live there.
                   And  the  final  condition of that man is
                   worse than the first.   That  is  how  it
                   will  be  with  this  wicked generation."
                   (Matthew  12:43-45,   New   International

                          "When an evil (unclean) spirit comes
                   out of a man, it goes through arid places
                   seeking rest and does not find it.   Then
                   it  says,  `I  will return to the house I
                   left.'  When it  arrives,  it  finds  the
                   house swept clean and put in order.  Then
                   it goes and  takes  seven  other  spirits
                   more  wicked than itself, and they  go in
                   and live there.  And the final  condition
                   of  that  man  is  worse than the first."
                   (Luke   11:24-26,    New    International

              Ralph  Earle  provides a good outline of Matthew  12  to
         show  the  context of this parable [WESLEYAN BIBLE COMMENTARY
         (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press), MATTHEW,  by  Ralph  Earle,
         p. 61].  His outline with my material follows:


              1.  The Cause (12:1-21)
                   a. Harvesting on the Sabbath (vv. 1-8)
                   b. Healing on the Sabbath (vv. 9-14)
                   c. Helping the Sick (vv. 15-21)
                      [The  Pharisees criticized Jesus for "harvesting
                      on the Sabbath" and healing on the Sabbath].

              2.  The Criticism  (12:22-30)
                  [The Pharisees were so blind that they accused Jesus
                  of  casting  out  demons by Satan's power.  If true,
                  this would be self-defeating for Satan].

              3.  The Curse (12:31-32)
                  [Jesus  warns against blaspheming the Holy Spirit--a
                   sin that will not be forgiven].

              4.  The Contrast (12:33-37)
                  [An evil heart produces evil speech and conduct.  A
                  good heart produces good speech and good conduct].

              5.  The Craving (12:38-42)
                  [Some of  the  religious leaders wanted a miraculous
                  sign  from  Jesus.   Jesus  had  already done enough
                  miracles--he would not do a special one for them].

              6.  The Consequences (12:43-45)
                  [Jesus tells of the consequences of rejecting God].

              7.  The Clan (12:46-50)
                  [Jesus  places  in  perspective natural human family
                  and spiritual family].

              Demon   possession  is   a   reality.  In   our  day  of
         "enlightenment," some would dismiss the existence of  demons.
         In  some  ways,  the  existence of evil or unclean spirits as
         they are called in the New Testament is out of the  realm  of
         science.   How can you observe a spirit?  How can you control
         a situation so that anyone can do an  experiment  that  would
         prove the existence of demons?  You cannot!  However, you can
         examine the facts and do critical research.  I believe that a
         scientific  approach  will confirm the Biblical teaching that
         demons  do  exist.    For  a  more detailed approach on demon
         influence and possession and how to be set free from  demons,
         write Kenneth E. Hagin, P O Box 50126, Tulsa, OK 74150-9988.

                   The Interpretation
            This  passage  of scripture first of all, applies  to  the
         individual.   A person can be delivered of demon influence or
         even total possession, and be repossessed completely, if  the
         Spirit  of  God does not dwell in the heart of the individual
         delivered.  Reformation and "turning over a new leaf" will
         not suffice:

         Reformation without regeneration is no use.  (Morgan,  THE PARABLES
        AND METAPHORS OF OUR LORD, p. 41).

             We must accept Christ as our personal  Savior  and  then  the
         Holy Spirit will take up his abode in our house (heart).

              In Jesus' time, the  present  religious  generation  had
         been purged of idolatry.  However, it had not received the
         Messiah and the new truths that he brought.  Farrar comments:

              The parable was an allegory, not only of the  awful
              peril of relapse after partial conversion, but also
              of the History of the Jews.  The demon of  idolatry
              had  been  expelled by the Exile; `but had returned
              in  the  sevenfold  virulence  of   letter-worship,
              formalism,    exclusiveness,    ambition,    greed,
              hypocrisy  and  hate;'  and  on  the  testimony  of
              Josephus himself [a Jewish historian] the  Jews  of
              that age were so bad that their destruction  seemed
              an inevitable retribution.  (Carr, CAMBRIDGE  GREEK
              Farrar, pp. 265 ff.).

              Earle adds:

              ...when   the   Jews  rejected  Jesus,  they  found
              themselves in  a  worse  state  than  ever  before.
              Wicked  demons  drove them on to their doom, in the
              destruction of Jerusalem in  A.D.  70.    [WESLEYAN
              BIBLE  COMMENTARY (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press),
              MATTHEW,  by Ralph Earle, p. 61].

              When  enough  people  in  a culture become controlled or
         possessed by demons, the whole culture is moved toward
         destruction.  This is what happened  in  Jesus'  time.    And
         sadly, this appears to be happening in the United States.

              Barclay sees three truths in this parable:

              1.  The evil spirit is banished from  the  man  and
              not destroyed.

              2.  A negative religion is not enough.

              3.  The  only  cure  for  evil  action is Christian
              action. (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, MATTHEW
              pp. 56 ff.).

                              Central Truth



         Let us take the good news of the Gospel to those who are
         controlled  and  manipulated  by  the  devil  and his demons.