THOUGHTS FROM MATTHEW

April 6

Text: Matthew 12:43-45

"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it.  Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.  Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation." (NASB)

Many learn with sorrow that destroying the undesirable is only half the battle in confronting a personal problem.  Many parents have thought eliminating a childís addictive behavior would destroy addiction.  Many people have thought they could destroy dependence on pornography by eliminating a desire for pornography.  How often have loved ones decided that paying fines, or bills, or hiring intercessors would end a personís thrill in chasing greed?  The result is consistently the same: ending the immediate situation does not solve the continuing problem.

Ending a personal problem requires the following basics.  (1) Recognize the problem actually exists.  (2) Admit that you have the problem.  (3) Destroy the basis of the problem.  (4) Replace oneís focus on the problem with a focus on something more important. 

Destroying the basis of the problem is insufficient.  For example, the love of highs does not mysteriously disappear because it is impossible to be high at the moment.  Or, the love of fantasy does not dissolve when one has to face harshness in his or her reality.  Or, eliminating immediate consequences does not end the thrill.  There must be focus on a goal that is more important than the problem.

Jesus had a fundamental disagreement with the Pharisees and their scribes.  They said the way to destroy evil in oneís life was to eliminate evilís problems.  Jesus said eliminating evilís control in oneís life required eliminating the problem AND replacing focus on the problem with focus on righteousness.

When we ONLY eliminate problems, we create greater opportunity for evil. Elimination is only half the solution in moral problem solving.

Suggestion for reflection: Do your life goals focus on eliminating or being?  (Read 2 Peter 2:20-22.)

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