“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’
This means as much as to say, "The devil never takes a vacation,"
and "The devil never sleeps," for he is seeking how he
may devour man. Dry places are not the hearts of the ungodly,
for in such he rests and dwells like a mighty tyrant; but there
are dry and waste places here and there in the country where
no people live, as forests and wildernesses. To these he flees in
wicked rage because he is driven out. You will remember that
the devil found Christ in the wilderness.
In Judaea there is not much water, hence we read that it contains many arid wastes. In other countries as our own, which are well watered,
the devils stay in rivers and lakes, and there sometimes drowns
those who bathe or sail upon them.
That he comes again and finds the house swept and garnished
signifies that the man is sanctified and adorned with beautiful
spiritual gifts, and that the evil spirit clearly sees that he can
do nothing there with his familiar tricks, for he is too well
known. Thus when the worship of idols was driven from the
heathen, he never attacked the world with that device again.
What did he do then? He tried something else, went out, took
with him seven spirits, more evil than himself, and entered in
with them and dwelt there, and the last state of that man was
worse than the first.
When Christ had become known in the
world and the devil's former kingdom with its idol worship
had been destroyed, he adopted another plan and attacked us
with heresy and introduced and established the papacy, in which
Christ was entirely forgotten, and men became worse heathen
under the name of Christ than before he was preached. Such
also was the lot of the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem,
and of the Greeks under the Turks. And so all will fare who
at first hear the Word of God and afterwards become secure
and weary of it. Therefore it is necessary to watch, as the
apostle admonishes: "Be sober, be watchful; your adversary the
devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may
devour." Wherever he overthrows faith, he easily restores again
all former vices.