INXS came out with a tune back in the day called “Devil inside”. I think they were pointing to a reality within all of us. Not necessarily that the devil lives within all of us… I believe the scriptures which say that the devil is a real person with a real agenda to steal, kill and destroy. However, we all have a propensity to allow the ways of evil and self-destruction to take ahold of us.
Both Old Testament Israel and New Testament Christ followers were directed to drive out the evil from amongst them. This was demonstrated in Israel’s conquests, particularly in the eras of Joshua’s leadership, as well as in the era of the Judges. This was demonstrated in Jesus’ ministry, where He drove out demons from those being tormented, and He also challenged the religious misconceptions within people of His day, pointing them to greater, complete faithfulness and understanding of God.
One great difference…
Old Testament Israel was literally asked to drive out human beings from their midst who represented evil. When they did this, they received blessing and peace. For example, during the time of Joshua Israel was faithful to keep themselves pure from the polluting influences around them, and they experienced peace. In sharp contrast, during the time of Judges the Israelites “sold out” to the culture around them, inviting in things like temple prostitution, greed, complacency, and heinous religious practices that were deeply harmful, and God allowed them to experience the consequences of their actions.
Could it be that the Israelites of the Old Testament didn’t yet have the inner strength to endure amidst a culture that pushed against their ethical fiber? Maybe so… Christ had not come in flesh and bone yet. The cultures outside of Israel during this time were ruthless and tribal, violent and persistent. Maybe complete separation was necessary to keep Israel pure.
But Christ inaugurated a new spin on this timeless principle of inner-cleansing from sin. In His ministry, He walked amongst and encountered people of all backgrounds. He engaged people of deeply differing ethos with truth and grace, bringing healing and restoration to individuals in all walks of life.
Christ showed the world and His followers that the evil we truly battle is both spiritual and personal. It is an inward struggle within every individual that needs to be addressed and exposed. He evened the playing field, and gave those who truly follow Him the gumption and ability to walk amidst a world of self-destruction, violence and sin, and be a light of love, purity, hope and truth. May the struggle within all of us be exposed in the light, and may we who follow Jesus realize that we are the ones who can walk into the flames and not be burned by them, and in a parallel to our faith, may we be the agent that douses the fires of humanity with the cleansing, pure water of Christ.