The Problems of Self-Reformation
“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. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45 (KJV).
There is not much talk of “Demon possession” in our modern or “Post-modern” era. We are too sophisticated for demons. We have psychiatry, and psychology to handle the things that tend to control us. We can’t have anything spiritual enter the picture. Then, we wonder, “Why can’t this problem be solved?” or “Why can’t George overcome his alcoholism?” or “Why can’t Cheryl quit smoking those cigarettes?”, or something we consider worse, “Why can’t Harold over come His sexual abuse of children?” According to the experts this final one is never overcome. My answer to that is NOT BY PHYCHIATRY, PSYCHOLOGY, OR SELF REFORMATION.
The idea of “self-reformation” is nothing new. Mankind has, since the fall of man in the garden, tried to reform and change himself/herself. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day were depending on their own merit and abilities to have self-restraint, and self-reform. They may have kept themselves from the physical act of some sins, but the sin was still quite active in their own minds and hearts. If the sin issue is not dealt with in the heart and mind it will still be a problem in the life of the one who desires to change. The only way to deal with it in the heart and mind is through faith in Jesus Christ; and receiving a new heart, a transformed mind (Romans 12:1-2). The end result of self-reformation is like what Jesus mentions in our text. You might sweep and clean out the place, but if you don’t fill it with the Spirit of Christ it is still empty and you will end up worse than you were before.
One of the fruits of the Spirit of God is “Temperance” or “Self-control” (Galations 5:22-23). This fruit is by the Holy Spirit, and He gives through His power the mind and heart to say no to cigarettes, liquor, overeating – gluttony, sexual immorality (which would include sexual abuse of children), etc.. These things can have a way of bindiing us all. They need not control us. By the power of the Spirit we turn them away, by seeing what this does to Christ, by seeing what these things do to the Body of Christ, and the harm they will do to our own. The Christian who is under the dominion of any of these things is not walking in the Spirit of Christ. You, however, cannot get control in your own strength.
We can see so many people involved in so much religious activity, ceremony, ritual, rules, regulations, etc. and their lives are in miserable shape before God. They have the appearance of happiness, but they are still far from God. Self-reformation is truly the downfall of our own age. If you listen to Oprah, and many gurus which she follows; the answer for us is positive thinking, lifting up yourself, visualizing a better you, or a better future. Our only true hope is found in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you want to be a real “positive thinker” think like Jesus, and through Him seek to do only those things that please the Father.
When we achieve through our own abilities, or when we think we have, we have a tendency of pride, prideful rebellion against God. Pride is a destructive path more destructive than the most horrid of sins. Sin will be the judge of those who enjoy their sin (Jeremiah 2:19). Your own sins will judge you. The wicked generation who seeks not the things of God through His Son Jesus is in the direction of God’s eternal judgment.
-Tim A. Blankenship