A few miles northeast of Burlington, Iowa lies the tiny unincorporated community of Dodgeville. I spent some of my earliest years just outside of the main town located on what is now called the Dodgeville blacktop. The house I got my first electric train set in now sits abandoned with a large oak tree growing right out of the middle of it. The house pictured above is not that house, but it does remind me of it in some ways. I bring it up because I enjoy finding old abandoned houses, buildings, or even towns, and then trying to piece together what happened that caused them to become abandoned or left in disrepair. I remember my Grandpa Dale taking me with him to an old tavern in Dodgeville that now stands like my old house that I told you about. The lives that inhabited those places are gone. I shared them with you because today, they reminded me of a story that Jesus once told about spirits and empty places that is not only relevant to individuals, but to an entire generation and nation as well, and we all would do well to think about what he said.
The Story Of The House Of Spirits
Mat 12:43-45 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (44) Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (45) Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Intellectualism has taken hold in America to the point that some have no use for talk of a spiritual realm. That in and of itself is tragic. It reminds me of another passage in the Bible from the book of Romans:
Rom 1:19-22 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
In a nutshell, the passage basically says that the VISIBLE creation teaches us about an INVISIBLE Creator, just as a work of art testifies of an artist who may not be standing there at that moment. And like a piece of art can tell you a lot about the artist, so too does creation tell us a lot about the Creator, right down to the Godhead, or what is called the Trinity – one God, three persons. Ever heard of a proton, neutron, and electron (3 elements) making one atom? But the real issue boils down to this:
Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (fitting);
Man has come to the point where his intellectual smarts have no room for God, much less, a spiritual realm. For those who have concluded God and spirits are real, Jesus told a story about an unclean spirit coming out of a man and finding no other place of rest. Interestingly enough, in the story, as Jesus tells it, the spirit refers to the man as, “His house.” Man is, after all, called a “vessel”, and vessels are usually not meant to be left empty. They are meant to carry something. The vessel of man is to house the Holy Spirit of God so that with the Holy Spirit guiding him, he can be like Jesus. Unfortunately, there’s this matter of unclean spirits. And since we are talking about a spiritual, unseen realm, Jesus teaches us about it by giving us examples of what we do see – people moving in and out of houses.
In this story, this spirit, goes back to the man and finds him “empty, swept, and garnished.” When a house is empty, swept, and then garnished, it is usually because another tenant is expected. And so is the case here. This spirit is so delighted that we are told he goes and grabs seven of his buddies and we are told that the last state of that man is worse than the first. He is now home to an unclean spirit frat party!
The House Of Spirits Applied
So think about this with me: if someone “puts off evil”, but then fails to fill the void with something, the evil will come back SEVEN TIMES WORSE THAN BEFORE! I’ve known people who have had their problems, who then “dabbled” in the teachings of the Bible, but who never really believed, received, or learned what it taught. Those same people went on to not only “not believe it”, but actually moved to “set themselves against it!”
Have you noticed that, especially concerning religion, economics, and politics, the world is growing more and more POLARIZED? It’s not that we haven’t had issues, but its the INTENSITY of the issues that’s growing. That’s when I noticed something about what Jesus said:
Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Not only does that story have a personal application, but it also has an application for a generation or civilization! Whether or not America was founded on the principles of the word of God is less of an issue than “will America make the word of God its foundation now?” Even if one doesn’t believe that America was founded on the word of God, there is no concluding that the word of God has not at least come here! And it’s hearing the term “post-Christian nation” that makes my hair stand on end. Why? Because of the story Jesus told about the evil spirits – it applies to a generation, a civilization, not just to persons.
Whether you believe it or not, America has had the peace and prosperity it has had precisely because it honored the principles of the word of God. For a long time, we as a people have lived by “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We’ve also been “one nation under God”. Presidents have taken the oath of office, swearing on a Bible, which some now, want to do away with. Post-Christian implies a turning away from what is Christian, what is Christ-like! And Jesus told us what the last state of that would be like!
Before I conclude, I want to share something about all of this. I know about all the atrocities done, both nationally and personally, in the name of God. God himself said people would commit such things in has name. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people being like Jesus – caring, compassionate, healing, refreshing – I’m not talking about those who misuse the Bible or his teachings. Just because people do that, it doesn’t make the word of God, rightly applied, untrue or unreal. America has known very little of the sufferings that have impacted the rest of the world – ask someone who has been to the middle east. More people who profess Jesus have been persecuted and martyred in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined – it’s a statistical fact! What we call “oppression” in America is almost laughable! But I do think oppression is coming, especially if we’re going to go the Post-Christian route. Just think about it, and remember, even if the whole civilization goes that way, YOU don’t have to. Jesus gave many promises to those who would believe and receive Him for who he was – our Creator come to us in human form! He is our hope when all seems hopeless.
Have a great week everybody!