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The Gospel According to Matthew

Matthew 12:43-45 - Demons leave and come back

Postby Jess » Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:23 pm

Jesus tells the story in Luke 11 and Matt 12 about a demon who leaves a dude, and then comes back with 7 of his meaner homies and re-inhabits the dude. In every case where Jesus or the disciples cast out a demon, there is no mention if they demon ever came back...and therefore signifying true conversion right?

They cast the demon out...and that was that. There isn’t evidence of the demon coming back after Paul or Jesus cast it out the first time. It usually just says, “the demon left” or something of that sort.

I’m trying to figure out...if I demon is cast out, but the soul of a man is still empty, can the demon re-inhabit that person? Like in Acts 16 when that little girl was making money fortune telling, Paul gets annoyed and casts out the demon. Can that demon come back “and return to the house I just left” (Matt. 12:44)? Or, is that demon done and dusted and wanders around looking for pigs to drive into a lake somewhere?

I’m not posing the question perfectly, but you might be able to tell what I’m asking

Re: Matthew 12:43-45 - Demons leave and come back

Postby jimwalton » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:51 am

This kind of stuff is always fun to talk about.

Our first clue to meaning is the context. This teaching, in both Mt & Lk, is connected with the accusation of Beelzebub and the teaching about the sign of the prophet Jonah, which means it has to do with the rebellious unfaithfulness of the Jews as represented by their leaders (Mt. 12.39). Therefore it’s not about salvation and losing your salvation. He even caps it off with the “moral” of his story: “That is how it will be with this wicked generation” (Mt. 12.45).

Jesus is returning the accusation. It is they, not he, who are the servants of Satan. Jesus’s point is that although he is casting out demons, this wicked generation is inviting them right back in. Two steps forward, two (or three) steps backward.

The text is like a parable. It’s not teaching us anything about demon possession, rehabitation, or conversion. It’s about a wicked generation that rejects the message of truth and gets worse for it—as when Jesus says that he says things in parables so people will fall away. For some people, the more truth they hear the worse they fall into lies. Weird, but true.

Their accusation of Mt. 12.22-37 shows how little they understand about demons. But Jesus answers not about demons but about the condition of the people (12.45)—just as to Nicodemus he was talking about spiritual things, not birth, in the parable of the sower he was not talking about farming, and to the woman at the well he was talking about spiritual life, not water. In Mt. 12.43-45 he’s not talking about demons but about the conditions of the heart.

Jesus, as teacher, is removing the unclean spirits from their souls and minds. This godless worldview, however, can find no rest unless it is deceiving and menacing. It returns to the shallow soil and finds life and growth there (notice the Parable of the Sower comes in the next chapter, Matthew 13). It chokes out the growing life, and they become more entrenched in their blindness and more aggressive in their hostility against the truth.

So it is with those who fall away (Heb. 6.4-8).So it is with those who harden their hearts (Pharaoh). So it is with the spiritually blind and darkened (Rom. 1.18-32).

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