“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 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. 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” (Matthew 12:43-45).
Our Lord had a quick eye for moral tragedies, and in the pictorial setting of these verses He has delineated one of the saddest of them all. Do you see what this man’s danger was? It was the peril of an empty heart. One may gain an apparent victory by overcoming bad habits, or in “turning over a new leaf.” But it is not sufficient to merely expel the wrong. We must allow God to fill the empty heart with nobler things, or else we will end up in a worse state than before.
And so I bring you face to face with the great mystery of an indwelling Christ. It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), that saves you from the peril of the empty heart. The gospel does not merely come to you and say, “Dear sinner, you must give up that sin.” It does not bid you empty your heart of evil, and leave it empty. God knows the danger of a soul unoccupied, so the gospel is prepared to give you something far better than what it drives away. It is prepared to inhabit the temple of your heart with the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Now “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17), and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is life. And it is that new liberty and life within the heart that make us strong when old things sneak back to tempt us again. “I can do all things,” cried the apostle Paul—not through a barred door and an empty heart—“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Dear unsaved friend, you have been fighting to evict your sin. But what you need is a new power in its place. I wish to ask you seriously and simply, have you ever made room for Jesus Christ, to take Him in? There is love, there is power, there is liberty in Christ. It is in Him that we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). It is in Him that our last state shall be our best. Open your heart. Receive the gift of God.
—George H. Morrison, adapted.