Focus: Redeeming the time
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NKJV) See then that you walk circumspectly (heedful of circumstances and potential consequences), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
These are difficult days to live in, if you have battled with depression and dependency. Ephesians 5:16 makes an honest statement; ‘the days are evil’. They are at least as evil now as they were in the first century, A.D.
Evil times oppose a person who is trying to make progress in their recovery, which is why you need to be especially heedful of your circumstances and the potential consequences, by not being careless about your own vulnerability at this point.
In Matthew chapter 12, Jesus told a short story in verses 43-45 (NKJV) , known as, ‘The Parable of the Swept House’.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
As I was researching this parable, I wanted to learn more about how Bible scholars would interpret the story. I was particularly looking for more insight on ‘the swept house’, when I came across an essay called, ‘The Empty House’, written by George Lyons. As I was reading what he wrote, I felt like I had ‘struck gold’, when I came across the phrase, ‘moral reformation without spiritual regeneration’.
Think about that. In other words, ‘the empty house’ could represent a person who had a problem with depression and dependency, and decided to ‘reform’. They turned from their habit, or evil spirit—but they didn’t do a proper job of filling the empty house with the Holy Spirit and with an ongoing healthy diet of spiritual nourishment.
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So, while the initial effort of sweeping the house clean was a good thing to do—the house was left ‘empty’ and the door was open, so there was room enough for even more evil to return and take up residence.
The concept of being seven times worse than you have ever been is frightening to say the least—but it need not happen to you, if you are wise and understand what the will of the Lord is. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (KJV) says, “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
It’s not enough to turn from our wicked ways. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, we need to humble ourselves and pray and seek the face of God without ceasing if we want to be forgiven and experience true healing.
If you have struggled with temptation and failed in the past but want to stay clean, you may not have the same options as other people. In order to keep your house clean, you may have to close the door and bolt it to keep the evil from coming back inside. Meanwhile, you are locked safely inside the house communing with the Holy Spirit, nurturing yourself with the life-giving Word of God, and becoming spiritually regenerated.
Some people think they can open the door to all kinds of evil influences and invite them to come in while they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They are fooling themselves. The Holy Spirit is Holy. Light and darkness can’t dwell together. When you invite evil to come on in—you are dismissing the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will not stand in the doorway of your house and refuse to let evil come in. You have to be the guard of your own gate. The Holy Spirit is a guest in your home. When you allow offensive influences to pollute the atmosphere—the Holy Spirit will step aside. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yolked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
I look at it this way, I’ve already wasted enough of my life by compromising. I want to spend whatever I have left, redeeming the time. Not that I can fix the past by living right—only the blood of Jesus can blot out my sin—I just don’t want to compromise any more of the present and future by being careless.
Declaration: I will find new strength by resisting evil. I will make progress by not wasting any more of my life than I already have. I will not leave my clean house ‘empty and vulnerable’. I will nurture myself with the Word of God and stay filled with the Holy Spirit. By doing these things, I will experience moral reformation and spiritual regeneration.
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