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. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself . . . .

Matthew 12:44-45a (ESV)

The older I get and the more I study the Bible I am progressively more convinced of its God-breathed, authoritative message to challenge, inspire and transform lives. Yet, there are times when I believe we make the Gospel far more complicated that it was intended to be. The moment we believed in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and committed our lives to Him, we may have experienced a rush of peace, joy and freedom unlike anything we have ever known as the reality that we have become a child of God begins settle in. Then, a horrific thing happens—and it happens to all of us—we get up the next day and we STILL have to live our life. Oddly enough, our new life as a Christian has the same temptations and pressures it had the day before—or worse! 

Does this sound familiar? Our students at Adult & Teen Challenge could write a book on this subject. They understand (more than most) what it means to have Jesus Christ apply His mercy and grace to their broken, hopeless lives and realize they have always been loved by Him. They also understand that their hearts and minds, now washed spotless by the blood of Christ, must be reestablished with words, actions and attitudes that will not only be pleasing to God, but will clearly communicate that their past life is something they NEVER want to revisit.

But we know that this is not something that only drug addicts or alcoholics have to deal with, don’t we? No, every time we try to “do better” or, to use a common churchism, “rededicate our lives,” we often experience even more difficulties than before. Jesus’ simple words to the Pharisees that were challenging Him still ring true today. Kicking out the bad habit, sin, or relationship is useless unless it is replaced by time in God’s word, encouraging friends, and renewed attitudes regarding how we approach life. 

The Holy Spirit has no desire to produce lives that are clean but empty!