When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
Many of us are familiar with Yeshua’s words from Matthew 12:43-45. It is possible, however, to read over this passage many times and yet miss some vital information. This is an important message for all of us, so it is wise to spend some time reflecting on Yeshua’s warning.
First, let us look at the rest of the chapter for context. At the beginning of the chapter, Yeshua, referring to Himself as Son of Man (Hebrew expression for a human being) is also declaring His identity and authority as Son of God, because He has authority even over the Sabbath. We know from other Scripture verses that Yeshua emptied Himself, or divested Himself from His power as the Son of YHVH (Phil 2:7) and relied solely on the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), as He expects His followers to do (Luke 24:49).
As the chapter continues, Yeshua performs miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. Beginning in verse 22, Yeshua casts out a demon from a man who is both blind and mute. The people consult with their leaders after this miracle, saying that surely Yeshua must be the Son of David, the Messiah. The leaders, who are against Yeshua, tell the people that Yeshua is not using the power of YHVH to perform His miracles, but the power of the prince of demons. They are denying the power of the Holy Spirit in their attempt to discredit Yeshua.
Now we come to Yeshua’s words concerning an evil spirit who leaves (or is driven out) from its dwelling within a person. After wandering for some time, the demon returns to its former abode, which has now been swept clean and is in order. This suggests that the person has repented, been forgiven, and/or had soul wounds healed. But Scripture also says that the abode is empty, or unoccupied. Who should be dwelling there now? The Holy Spirit. If there is any part of our souls (mind, will, emotions) that have not been yielded to Yeshua and filled with the Holy Spirit, they are prime areas for demons to move in.
In our efforts to quell demonic activity in our lives and repair the damages, we must be intentional in inviting the Holy Spirit to ensure that the former (or potential) dwelling of the demon is not only in order and swept clean, but occupied and guarded as well. In other words, we cannot truly improve on our own, but need the help of the Holy Spirit. In Mark’s version of this story (chapter 3), Yeshua tells us no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. On our own, we are not strong enough to withstand the enemy. The Holy Spirit is the “strong man” that cannot be overpowered by demons.
Yeshua purposely divested Himself of His power and authority as the second Person of YHVH in order to rely solely on the power of the Holy Spirit, thus demonstrating to us that we must divest ourselves of our own power and rely on the Holy Spirit.
Why did Yeshua say “that would be the experience of this evil generation”? Because the Pharisees wanted to be in control to the extent that they not only denied the power of the Holy Spirit when it suited them, but they gave credit to hasatan for the work of the Holy Spirit. Some believers today are still falling into that error. Some say that speaking in tongues is of the devil, for example. Many of us avoid the Holy Spirit out of fear or reluctance to relinquish control.
Where the Holy Spirit prevails there will be order, unity and love. Where the Holy Spirit is not welcome, there will be chaos, division, hatred or apathy. We cannot atone for our sins on our own, but need to rely on Yeshua’s sacrifice on our behalf. Likewise, we cannot steer our own course through this spiritual battlefield on earth, but must rely on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Aside from some practice runs, the apostles did not get started on their assignments in YHVH’s harvest until they had been filled with “power from on high” or the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)
Are there areas in your life that are confusing or chaotic? Are there broken or weak relationships in your life? How will you sweep these areas clean? Will you welcome the Holy Spirit to reign in that area of your life as your “strong man”?
 Yeshua did not cease to become the Son of YHVH at any time nor did He relinquish His authority as the Son of YHVH, but He operated only by the power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate to His followers what He expected of them.