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883. The Insufficiency of “Thou Shalt Not”

What we shouldn’t do must be replaced with what we should do.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERINGunclean-spirit

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through water-less places seeking rest, and does not find it.

‚ÄúThen it says, ‚ÄėI will return to my house from which I came‚Äô; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.

‚ÄúThen it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it ¬†will also be with this evil generation‚ÄĚ (Matt. 12:43-45).

Perhaps you too, have found this to be a strange and perplexing passage. You’re probably also wondering what it has to do with “Thou” Shalt Not.” Actually, it has everything to do with it. From the passage, we see that the evil spirit is cast out of the man, but it is not destroyed. It lives to return another day. In the same way, evil can be driven away but not destroyed. We see this in the three facets of our salvation:

  1. In our justification, we have been saved from the penalty of sin.
  2. In our sanctification, we are being saved from the power of sin.
  3. In our glorification (in heaven), we will finally be saved from the very presence of sin (and evil).

In the meantime, we are in a constant battle with sin and everything that is evil. This ever-present power is always seeking an opening to return and counter-attack in an attempt to regain the ground that it lost. It is the satanic lion who prowls about seeking someone to devour (See 1 Peter 5:8).

AS I SEE IT

thou-shalt-notApplying these verses to our lives, it is a picture of those who in the name of religion, focus on the “thou shalt nots.” Such a view will never end well, because just like the evil spirits, the thoughts or behaviors that were mentally condemned will eventually return to fill the void. Such a negative endeavor may temporarily cleanse us from our evil actions, but it can’t keep us clean.

If we’re trying to kick a habit or an addiction that has been destroying us, we must replace it with something else‚ÄĒsomething that God would approve‚ÄĒsomething that will fill the void with godly behavior. Otherwise, we will soon return to the old pattern. Any teaching that stops at telling us what we should not do is doomed to failure. It must also tell us what we should do. Even the Ten Commandments include positives along with the negatives.

Is there anything in your life that is dragging you down? How about focusing on the needs of others. How has God uniquely equipped you to fill a void in someone else’s life? What act of service can you perform? How can you practice generosity? What ministry can you join? What positive step can you take that will ensure that the evil you have cast out will not return? Since the victory has already been won, isn’t about time we all start acting like it?

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

At a wedding ceremony, the pastor asked if anyone had anything to say concerning the union of the bride and groom, it was their time to stand up and talk, or forever hold their peace.

The moment of utter silence was broken by a young beautiful woman carrying a child. She started walking toward the pastor slowly.

Everything quickly turned to chaos.

The bride slapped the groom.

The groom’s mother fainted.

The groomsmen started giving each other looks and wondering how best to help save the situation.

The pastor asked the woman, “Can you tell us why you came forward? What do you have to say?”

The woman replied, “We can’t hear in the back.”


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