In the Gospel of Luke, we find the following parable:
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).
In this parable, Jesus gives us insight into the life of a counterfeit believer. A counterfeit believer is one who is deluded into thinking he or she is a Christian, but is, in reality, not. Jesus is showing us what is taking place in that person on a spiritual level. It’s an insight only He can give us.
First, we need to recognize that the man in the parable belonged to the prince of the power of the air, namely the realm of Satan. The Apostle Paul, writing to Christians, shows us in Ephesians 2:1-3 that we, too, once belonged to the prince of the power of the air. In fact, this is the condition of all mankind without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
This defies the Hollywood view of bondage to Satan, that we have to sell our souls to the evil one in order to become part of his realm. The reality is that this is man’s natural condition. It is only by the mercy and grace of God that we are delivered from such a miserable estate.
Jesus is not talking about the true believer in this parable. He is showing us the spiritual condition of the counterfeit believer, the one who makes a profession of faith—who walks an aisle, who says a prayer, who puts on all the outward trappings of Christianity—yet is not born again.
The counterfeit Christian looks the part. They say all the right things. They go to Bible studies, memorize the Bible, and are involved in evangelism and missions. Then one day they fall away because of some trial. Yes, they tasted the heavenly gift, and had become partakers of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4-6). In other words, they partook of communion, and they worshiped with the body of Christ. Outwardly, they did all the things that true believers do.
What was missing?—the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. These people never came to know Christ by faith. They simply put on the outward appearance of Christianity for a time, then fell away.
Jesus demonstrates the man’s true condition when the demon says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” Notice that the demon sees the man as “my house.” This shows possession. The man [house], already belonged to the realm of Satan. When he stepped into the realm of Christ for a while, he appeared to be born again. The demon actually left the man.
In reality, the man was not truly born from above, and therefore was not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The house was empty. The demon returned, and finding it so, went and got seven of his buddies to occupy the house once again. The man, who had the benefits of being in the body of Christ, but never truly came to know the LORD, is now worse off than he was before.
We all know of the man or woman who took on Christianity for a while, shared the gospel, memorized Bible verses, went through new members’ classes and joined the church. But then, something happened in their lives, and they fell away. They became more of a hater of Christianity than before. They became enemies of Christ and His people. They spewed vitriol towards true believers who were left wondering, “what happened?”
Because of their fallen condition they rejected the truth. The demons in their lives intensified the problem that was already there. Demonic influence is not an excuse from the responsibility to repent and believe, but it does explain why so often those who have been involved with the church, who have claimed Christ, eventually fall away and become so hostile toward Christ and His church. It helps us understand the vitriol.