Vol. 8, No. 7
~ Page 13 ~
In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus gives a parable that was directed toward that wicked generation. However, like most teachings of Jesus, there are principles that apply to any generation or person. The principle we want to emphasize now is one of particular value to new converts and elders. The passage reads like this: "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."
When we have a baptism, we presume there has been a conversion and "the unclean spirit is gone out of the man." We rejoice that the "old house" is "empty, swept and garnished." We need to understand that getting rid of the old thoughts and sinful activities is only the beginning of the task.
When our father bought an old farm that was covered with rocks, trees, briers and weeds, we spent many hours loading rocks into a wagon and many more with a grubbing hoe and axe clearing the ground. But even as little boys, we noticed a very simple thing. Having done all those things, unless we planted a crop and kept other activities going on to keep it healthy and productive, a new crop of weeds and briers always came back.
The lesson is so plain and simple it cannot be missed, but is too often ignored in our spiritual lives. If the leaders of the congregation do not provide wholesome and profitable activities for new converts, the converts should provide it for themselves. But to expect this to happen is about like expecting a baby to prepare its own bottle or change its own diaper.
Even when there is a sort of awareness of the importance of that principle, we need to know that a spiritual vacuum cannot be filled simply with fun and games. A spiritual hunger for the bread of life cannot properly be satisfied with junk food. Building a fellowship hall to meet and eat or building a gymnasium to meet and play will not solve the problem. It is true that babies need milk instead of strong meat, but cotton candy and ice cream will not provide the proper nourishment. We also need to realize that babes in Christ do not need to stay babes and simply have milk for several years. May God help us to live and teach so that the last state may not be worse than the first.