Jesus said that when an unclean spirit goes house hunting he finds the heart “empty, swept and garnished” (Matthew 12:44).
These represent the three major perils in religious people’s lives.
First, “empty” is a terrible condition. An empty gas tank gets you nowhere. An empty heart creates a vacuum that can cause one’s whole world to implode. Too much of a bad thing on the inside, whether anger, frustration or jealousy can cause an explosion. But too little on the inside conversely can cause an implosion. Many hearts are hollow. You can see it in the blank stare. There is no glimmer in the eyes. Hope is gone. If out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks then these live in muted silence because there is no “abundance” within. David cried, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me”. He had a “within”. Do you? Being full of praise, David never ran on empty. Soul-emptiness works just like gas in the car; you can only go so many miles on one filling. That’s is why people need to refuel with worship and the Word.
The next peril, he finds the house “swept”, which implies at best a surface dusting off of the soul but no in-depth scrubbing and scouring. A swept house is not necessarily a clean house. Sweeping just moves the filth from one place to another. It removes what is visible to the eye but things like dust mites and cold germs are microscopic. They need a coat of Lysol. So many people take the easy route of sweeping issues under the rug, which only masks the filth. Man is made of dust and is destined to return to dust (Genesis 2:19). So dusting is an important part of soul-care but it is not enough. Paul defined the new birth as “the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). That requires a sponge, not broom bristles. Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the word…” (John 15:3) Don’t just sweep it, swab it, use a disinfectant.
Third, “garnished” then speaks of the soul that has been redecorated, tidied and all dolled up with religious accoutrements. Curtains are hung and the pictures on the wall are perfectly plumb. A garnished house might even have the scent of air freshener wafting throughout the rooms but even that is just a cover-up. It’s all just religious garnish. A family Bible rests on the end table. A Mother Mary statue dons the dashboard. A lunchtime chant is recited, “God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our”, etcetera, etcetera. None of which scares the devil in the least bit.
We have to ask then, is your tank empty? Pastor Tommy Barnett reasons, “The absence of the unholy spirit does not guarantee the presence of the Holy Spirit”. Check your fuel gauge.
On the Day of Pentecost they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Fullness leaves no room for intruders. Second, swept is not good enough, the heart needs mopped. It needs a thorough scrub down. And third, it is not enough that the spiritual house be garnished.
It needs a complete makeover, what Jesus referred to as being born again.
Have you been born again? Empty, swept and garnished, that all will change the moment Jesus moves in.
Rev. Kris Jackson