In Matthew 12:43-45, we find Jesus describing the spiritual condition of the generation of His day. He described them as “evil and adulterous” (Matthew 12:38, 39). He also commented how that generation would be condemned by the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba in the Day of Judgment (verses 41, 42). In our present text of study, they are described as “this wicked generation” (verse 45).
Using the example of demon possession, Jesus warned that it is not enough to go through the process of having one’s sins forgiven. Unless reformation continues and something positive is put in its place, the end might prove worse than the beginning. Such had been the case with the Jews of Jesus’s day.
There is an important lesson to be gleaned here that applies to us today, a lesson on the evils of neutrality—we must replace evil with good.
I. THE DANGER OF AN EMPTY HOME
A. Our heart is like a home. In it can reside things that produce much harm (Matthew 15:19). But it can also be the source for much good (Matthew 12:35a).
B. Our house can be cleansed. For our heart is cleansed (Hebrews 10:22; Acts 15:8, 9). Our conscience is purged from dead works to serve God (Hebrews 9:14).
C. We are expected to “fill” our home. Through faith Christ Himself is to dwell in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17). God’s peace and grace are to fill our hearts (Colossians 3:15, 16). Even God’s law must be written in our hearts (Hebrews 8:10).
D. What happens when we do not fill our home? Nature abhors a vacuum, and if we do not attempt to fill our homes with good things, evil things are likely to return—with a vengeance! Consider the example of the Corinthians. They had been washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Corinthians 6:11), and yet they later engaged again in sinful conduct (2 Corinthians 12:20, 21). The false teachers had escaped the pollution of the world through the grace of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:1), but they became entangled again: “The latter end [was] worse for them than the beginning” (verses 20-22).
E. How do things become worse than at the first? In the case of the false teachers, they had forsaken the right way (2 Peter 2:15). Their eyes were full of adultery, and their hearts were trained in covetousness (verse 14). They even denied the Lord who bought them (verse 1).
Our hearts can become so hardened through willful sin (Hebrews 3:12, 13) that we trample the Son of God, count the blood of the covenant a common thing, and insult the Spirit (10:26-29). We can reach the point where it becomes impossible to be renewed again to repentance, and then we again crucify the Son of God and openly shame Him (6:4-6). In such a case, the following statement is all too true: “The last state of that man is worse than the first.”
How important it is, then, that we do not let the home of our heart remain empty and thus invite worldly things to take up residence! We must fill our homes with good things.
II. FILLING THE HOME OF YOUR HEART
A. Fill it in principle. “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). The word “sanctify” means “to set apart.” Set aside a special place in your heart for God as the Ruler of your life.
Be selective about what goes into your mind. Set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:1, 2). Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (verse 16). Follow David’s example (Psalm 101:3, 4). Think upon things that are good and wholesome (Philippians 4:8). Remember, transformation of character starts with a renewed mind (Romans 12:1, 2).
B. Fill it in practice. Utilize every opportunity to study God’s Word (2 Peter 2:1, 2). Attend all church services. Participate in the Bible study programs that are offered. Read your Bible daily (Psalm 1:1-6). Fill your heart with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “For this is how you let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18, 19). Sing at church, at home, in the car; sing alone and with others. Let your mind dwell on things that are worthy of praise and virtue (Philippians 4:8).
Be selective about what you watch on television or at the theater. Choose your books, periodicals, and magazines carefully. Choose your friends carefully (1 Corinthians 15:33); they will either help you to be strong or hinder your efforts (Proverbs 13:20). We cannot have communion with darkness and expect the light of God to dwell in us (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
What is the condition of your “home” (heart)? Are you filling it with things that are good? If not, then your heart becomes an abode for every evil thing—and the condition of your heart may become seven times worse than before!
Have you experienced the initial cleansing of your “home” (heart)? Have you been cleansed by the blood of Jesus in baptism? Don’t be deceived into thinking that you do not need to be concerned about filling that dwelling with the presence of God and all that is good!
“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
General Conference Ministerial Association