Luke 11:24-26 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him 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.
I understand that my thoughts are a secondary application here. And yet, I was reminded of this truth this morning as I read this passage. My dad called it the “principle of replacement”. The more the Lord works, and the longer I walk with him, the more He desires to remove unwanted things from my life. Over the years, I can think of many different areas that needed fixed or removed for me to be right with the Lord.
I remember quite a few years ago now, when the Lord began to speak to me about using pirated software. We’re good at justifying ourselves, but He won that conversation. I began to get rid of the operating systems, apps, and programs that I hadn’t purchased. I un-jailbroke my phone. And I visited the “add or remove programs” window on my laptop. I further remember, a few years back now, when I realized I was too engulfed in listening to “conservative” talk radio. I almost wanted a reason to drive, so I could get my sound bits of Sean Hannity, Rush, Beck, and others. I downloaded the interned radio app on my phone so I could listen to them at home, or on the job site. And yet on a walk in the mountains, the Lord spoke to me about this, and it’s been years since I’ve listened to one of them. Further, three years ago, I realized that I was into sports radio far too much. And then I realized that these sports radio personalities were anti Bible, anti morals, and anti who we were, and infused their sports analysis with their paradigm on “life”. So I quit it. And it’s been three years now since I’ve listened to one of them. I had to delete the Fox news app so I wasn’t checking it every time I opened my home screen. And the list could go on.
However, here’s the problem. As I visited my phone, or sat in the driver’s seat of my car, or went to perform certain tasks on my laptop, I realized that there was a void in these areas. When driving to and from Huntington Beach every week, the car was quiet. When going onto my phone to open a certain app, I found my self staring at it and wondering what app to open instead. And so this principle comes into play. What would I replace them with? Because to be fully honest, before I began to replace these things with good things, there were temptations to go back. In my car, there were temptations to turn on other things that shouldn’t be on. On my phone there were temptations to begin using other time wasters that I shouldn’t be wasting time on. And I’m certain if I had gone back, the “last would be worse than the first”. And so many times, when I open my home screen, instead of the Fox app, I open the Kindle app, and read a book or biography that feeds my soul. On the way to hunting beach, when I am alone, I listen to good preaching, a good clip, or music that feeds my soul and draws me closer to the Lord. I’ve gotten good, inexpensive software that has served me and the purpose of my life very well. But I had to replace what I had before with something – and something better.
Many of those things above aren’t bad, but I knew the Lord wanted me to get them out of my life. And I know that as I serve Him and seek to please Him, there will be other things that He will ask me to remove from my life or from my schedule. My prayer is that I’d, first, be willing to remove those things that should be removed. But secondly, is that the Lord would give me wisdom to replace them with better things that conform me to the image of Christ, as well as that bring glory to Him and serve the purpose that He has for my life.
This principle is important for those we work with too, as they give up music, habits, thoughts, and items – we must help them to replace them with good, godly things. If not, most likely, they’ll go back, and the latter will be worse. There are plenty of Scripture from which we can draw this principle, but for sake of time we’ll stop here. Let us remember the principle of replacement.