"Tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless." - C.S. Lewis: (1898 –1963: was a British novelist, poet, and academic)
Gospel Text: (LK 11:15-26)
When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”
What happens after a person accepts salvation from Jesus? Can he or she live a good Christian life without working hard at growing in holiness daily? It's easy to get lazy on the path to heaven. It's also easy to give in to the impulses of our flesh-nature. It takes conscious and conscientious forward momentum to stay close to God.
While we're still here in this sinful world, we suffer from the Law of Chaos. Everything decays, disorder is natural and order is unnatural and requires great effort. So, too, in our spiritual lives. Growth in holiness takes effort, and without that effort, our holiness decays. Daily. And demons try subtle and not-so-subtle ways to entice us onto the easy path. Daily. As Jesus points out in today's Gospel reading, we can end up worse off than before our conversion.
Jesus is the "someone stronger". He overpowered Satan by dying on the cross for our sins and then by overcoming death. It was our death that he took to the cross, and it was his life that he gave us in his resurrection, but we can only benefit from this if we choose to live in him, with him, and through him. Jesus has swept our houses clean, but now it's up to us -- with his help of course -- to keep it clean.