Don't Let the Demons Return

Monday, February 12, 2024

Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear [adore with tender feeling] me and keep all my commands always, that it might go well with them and their children forever! Deut. 5:29, NIV.

It was 7:30 a.m. when the doorbell rang. Still dressed in pajamas, the pastor ran to answer. The tearstained face was unfamiliar, yet it displayed a sense of panic. "Are you the folks who take love off the rocks? I am two days away from my divorce being final, and I need help. I don't want a divorce. I love my wife, but we can't seem to live together. We've been married 30 years, and we just can't get along. Can you help me? Will you?"

His words spilled as freely as his tears.

The pastor and his wife invited Gary in, and for the next three hours they listened to a history of pain and emotional abuse. They wept with him, recalling their own painful marriage. Together they prayed that God would intervene.

After a few months of counseling, Gary and Lucille's marriage had improved greatly. There were still issues needing attention, but they had the necessary tools for resolution. Each week Gary attended Sabbath services, and occasionally Lucille accompanied him. Before a year had passed they recommitted their lives to each other in a special church dedication service.

Nearly another year passed, and the pastor transferred elsewhere. Immediately Gary felt abandoned. He ceased attending church, and before long had reverted to his old abusive and controlling ways with a vengeance. He began to distance himself from his friends at church, and then from his wife and children. His eyes wandered, and finally he chose to leave the marriage.

Today, as I write this, they are again days away from a divorce. He leaves behind a devastated wife and three very angry children.
 What must we learn from such an account?
  1. All of the tools for character change, without our submission to God and without following God's plan, will not create permanent recovery.
  2. God is our life source, not other Christians, who will often disappoint us.
  3. When we turn our back on God after once seeing His salvation, our "demons" will return in greater number.
Faith in Jesus and a teachable, submissive spirit will produce character transformation, and when the character changes, the behavior will follow.

Are you relying on others to keep your behavior in line, or are you holding on to Christ to change your character?

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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