I put some garbage in the trash. Then we left on vacation. It was not emptied, and when we returned it had sprung to life—with maggots.
The underworld is more putrid than the foulest pile of manure. Demons are sometimes called unclean spirits.The Greek word for “unclean” is “akathartos,” the opposite of “katharos”—clean, pure. A katharsis is a cleansing experience. In medical terminology, it is a purging, especially of the bowels.
Sin is garbage. The more sin the more garbage. Isaiah described the children of Israel in his day as “a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers.” He wrote, “From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil” (Is. 1:4,6).
Garbage attracts rats. Some of us invite demons, who feed on garbage like rats, the garbage of unconfessed sin or negative emotions (fear, unforgiveness, anger, depression). We shouldn’t leave garbage around, because it attracts the very varmints we want to stay clear from. Persistent sin creates a pile of garbage.
One of the names for the chief of the demons at the time of Christ was Baalzebub, which means lord of flies. Interesting, since garbage attracts flies even before the rats start coming. Jesus applied the name Beelzebub to Satan.
Sin is both choice and bondage. There comes a point where we cannot choose the right way even if we want to. We become slaves of the one we obey (Rom. 6:16). Paul urged the Roman believers to “make no provision for the flesh,” with the assumption that to do so weakened their ability to overcome the enemy. Jesus’ strong response to Satan after Peter recommended an alternative to the cross showed how close the work of the flesh is to the activity of the devil.
Some have garbage that was dumped on them by others, victims of abuse. It is sad but true that the sins of parents are visited upon the children. Rats often work in gangs. Misery does love company. Once a door has been opened, entrance is more possible by other intruders.
When we picture garbage, we may think of sins like adultery or fornication. But more inward sins like resentment invite demons too. One of the common sins that opens the door is unforgiveness.
When we realize that we have garbage, we want to remove it quickly. We don’t want it left even one night. Paul wrote, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” and he followed it, “And do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26,27). Allowing garbage to remain on the premises is like issuing an invitation to rats.
Anger like manna if left overnight turns rancid. Some of the Israelites disobeyed the instructions from Moses. They “kept part of it [manna] until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell” (Ex. 16:20).
Gehenna (“ge”—valley; Hinnom), the Hinnom Valley to the immediate south of Jerusalem served as the city garbage dump. Jesus saw it as a fitting picture of hell, and prophets in the Old Testament drew this parallel (Jer. 7:32). When the NIV uses the word hell in the gospels, it is actually the word “Gehenna“ or garbage dump. Jesus, quoting from Isaiah, describes Gehenna as a place where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:48). The word “worm” here is the word for “maggot.” The fire is not quenched because fires were always smoldering in the dump. Hell is the ultimate garbage dump. No one in hell will want to be there.
Jesus came to deal with garbage and with rats. John wrote that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (I Jn. 3:8). He accomplished this by dying on the cross. When we apply the blood, He will “purify us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9). By the blood we overcome Satan (Rev. 12:11). Confession serves as a act of aggression against the enemy, who is helpless against the blood.
Deliverance chases out the rats. Demons have permission to stay, either when they have been passively invited by non-resistance, when armor has been left off, or when involvement with gods or the occult gave them access. The purpose of deliverance is to take away their rights or what they feed on. When this is done, they often go without a fight.
Deliverance includes helping people get rid of garbage through receiving and extending forgiveness. Those who need deliverance must take an active role, because deliverance means going on the offensive. When Jesus came, He immediately went on the offensive. Passive people were rebuked for lack of faith. Clearing out the garbage also means evicting the rats in the name of the One before whom rats tremble—Jesus!