Summary: Message regarding Jesus’ teaching about a spiritually empty house.
The Right Kind of Full House
July 23, 2006
How many of you know what a “full house” is? And no, I don’t mean the TV show from the 80’s and 90’s.
It’s okay to admit that you know that it’s a poker hand! And I won’t even ask how you know! Honest!
In poker, a full house is when you have 3 of one kind of card, say three 5’s or three Jacks, and also a pair of another kind of card. So if you have, say three Jacks and two 5’s, that’s a full house – three of one kind and two of another.
You know where I first learned about a full house? Yahtzee. You know, the dice game. Some of you aren’t sure if you should think its worse to talk about cards or about dice in church…
Have you ever tried to play that game quietly? It’s just about impossible. The dice are noisy in the cup, then noisy on the table. About the only way to make it quiet is if you decide what you want to roll, then just place the dice on the table. On a towel.
Today’s Scripture passage talks about another kind of full house.
Matthew 12:43-45 (p. 690) –
"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ’I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
The obvious thrust of this passage deals with people who are possessed by demons.
We don’t talk a lot about demons in the Wesleyan church. But they are real, and they do live in some people. If you’ve ever met someone who has been set free from something like this, you’ll never forget it, believe me.
I’ve never encountered a situation where I’ve had to try to drive out a demon, although I’ve been in situations where I had to deal with a young person who had been dabbling in stuff and was having bad experiences with demons.
It’s real stuff. And the person described by Jesus here is miserable indeed.
But I think we can also look at this passage from a broader perspective by looking at just what we should fill our lives with.
It’s important that we understand that nobody has a spiritual vacuum in their lives, at least not for long.
“A life reformed but lacking God’s presence is open to reoccupancy by evil.” (NIV Study Bible)
You might be able clear out some of the bad stuff, but unless you intentionally fill that space in your life with something from God, then other things will find their way in there, and it can be even worse than what you were dealing with before.
So today I want to show you 4 steps you can take to make sure you’ve got the right kind of full house.
This won’t help your poker or Yahtzee games, but it will help you as you go through life.
4 steps to having the right kind of full house:
1. Bring in a new tenant: the Holy Spirit.
Are any of you landlords? Have you ever had a tenant that you simply had to get rid of?
And when you get someone there who really takes care of the place and pays their rent on time, it’s a huge relief, isn’t it?
Jesus says here in this passage that the first step in having the right kind of full house is to have the right tenant.
And in this case, that right tenant is the Holy Spirit.
The antidote to this whole issue here in this passage is the Holy Spirit.
We need to allow the Holy Spirit to come in and live in our lives. This brings the presence of God into our lives.
We allow the Holy Spirit to live in our lives when we call on Jesus for salvation. At that time, not only are our sins forgiven, and we’re given a home in heaven, but the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives.
So if you’ve taken Jesus into your life, then you’ve taken the first step.
Let’s take a look at the second step, and that is to…
2. Turn over the deed.
Here’s where it gets tough. When you rent out the place, it’s still possible to have some control. But when you sign over the deed, you’re saying that you’re no longer the owner.