The Devil You Know

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26, ESV)

The other day as I was driving home from work I was thinking about cars. This was a little unusual for me. But I thought back to a time when my son was thinking about getting a different “beater” from the one he had. I remember advising him from a bit of wisdom gleaned from my father. “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t.”

He meant, of course, that when we are having problems, such as with a car, we are better off dealing with the problems that we know as opposed to inheriting other problems, the depths of which we cannot foresee. It got me thinking about habitual sin.

No one likes to admit that they have habitual sin in their lives. We don’t want others to see that side of us. But for the vast majority of us there are things about ourselves that we try to hide.

James wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law”  (James 2:10-11, ESV). Often we try to justify ourselves, that we do not commit that sin. “That sin is far worse than my sin!” What we are really saying is that we are sticking to the “devil we know.”

Somehow we find validation in thinking that we are better than some. But James made it clear that any sin is all sin. If we break part of the vase, the entirety of the vase is broken. This is the part that we tend to overlook about the power of habitual sin to break us to pieces one little bit at a time.

We may “clean house” from time to time, finding within ourselves a strength to resist habitual sin for a while. But when we have cleaned our own house, trusting in our own strength, “the last state is worse than the first.”

Today I am not presenting any answers. I’m not entirely sure that I have any to offer as yet. I’m going to live with this post for a week or so. Maybe longer. I’m going to trust in the efficacy of my New Year’s Resolution: surrender. I’m going to allow the Holy Spirit to give me a spiritual check-up, a diagnosis, and a prescription. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”  (Psalms 139:23-24, ESV).

Please join me, prayerfully, and together we can grow as mindful disciples. Blessings on your week…and on your surrender!

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels

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