When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.
This word from Jesus can be frightening. His purpose for the warning is not to cause us to cringe and worry about unclean spirits coming back. It’s a warning to tell us that it’s not enough to get rid of wrong thoughts—we must keep the door locked so our enemy can’t return. Not only does evil come back, but it comes back worse than before. I once read an article about diets, and the author said that most people who diet actually lose weight—until they stop dieting. Then they regain the weight they lost and about 5 percent more. When they stop working at the problem, they not only stop losing, but they’re worse than before they started. The author went on to say that the only way to win the battle of being overweight is to make a lifestyle change—by becoming aware of the danger areas and guarding ourselves against making wrong choices. It works that way spiritually, as well. One way to keep wrong thoughts out of your mind is to keep the mind active and alert and full of right things. You can cast out the devil, but then you must remain alert, always aware of his tricks. As I point out in my book Battlefield of the Mind, there are aggressive sins (or sins of commission) and there are passive sins (sins of omission).4 That is, there are things we do that hurt a relationship, such as speaking careless words. But it is just as true that we hurt relationships by the omission of kind words, those thoughtful words that express appreciation, affection, or awareness of kind deeds others have done. When confronted, passive individuals yell, “But I didn’t do anything!” That’s exactly the point. It’s what they don’t do. Their lack of action actually invites the devil back into their lives. That’s a strong statement, so I will say it a different way. You can win any time you take action and push away the thoughts and desires that don’t come from God. You may do this on your own through prayer, reading the Bible, or even by resisting the passivity that may be natural for you. But once you’ve been set free, that’s only the beginning. It’s not just one victory that lasts forever. It’s an ongoing battle—it’s constantly rebuking the devil. The best, easiest, and most effective way to rebuke the devil is to fill your mind and your heart with praises to God. When you worship and praise God, you’ve slammed the door in the enemy’s face and put up a “No Trespassing” sign. I don’t want to make it sound as if you have to fight demons every second of your life. That’s a trick of the devil himself to make you think like that. But when you fill your life with praise and positive, healthy thoughts, you can live in victory. Please read this verse again—aloud—and hear the message of the Holy Spirit: “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 CEV). Victory over passivity is just that simple: Focus your mind on the good and you will have no space left for the passive or the bad.
God, thank You for showing me the way to win over passivity and live in victory every day. In the name of Jesus, I ask You to remind me each day so that I can fill my mind and heart with only worthy thoughts.