The words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 12:43 to 45 almost seem out of place with the rest of the chapter. He talks about a man that had an unclean spirit that left him and then later returned with seven others because the man was clean. Jesus made this statement when he challenged the Pharisees who accused him of working a miracle by the power of Satan. Jesus warned those who wanted a sign from him to explain how he was able to do his miracles.
On closer examination of our text, we can see that these words fit in perfectly with the rest of the chapter. The Pharisees proposed to the world that they were righteous. Those who did good works were not doing them to draw closer to God. The people in this chapter who failed in their efforts to challenge Jesus are exactly like the man described in verses 43-45
Their problem was that they were not truly redeemed. They did not have God’s forgiveness, nor did they want to seek it. Their intent was not to honor God. It was out of their pomposity that they spoke to Jesus. Their ego was speaking to him. Should they pray to God it was more of a reformation than a conversion.
So, the person that tries to clean himself to be a righteous man, will eventually see spiritual difficulties in the future that may be worse than he ever had. Such people should be warned that their own efforts to be righteous is futile. They may make resolutions. They may have good intent. They may do good works. All that is vain because they do not have a personal relationship with God.
It is good for us to attempt to be a better person. It is good for us to do our best to give up bad habits. It is good for us to speak kindly to other people. It is good for us to be involved in religious activities. However, all those things should be the evidence of the change within one’s heart. When a person is redeemed, the good works reflect what God has done to the soul of that person.
Anyone can make reformations and clean himself from that which is not good. Not everyone takes the most important step toward Christ as Savior and Lord. The man who was blind came to Jesus for healing and had the miracle that he requested, but he still had to wash his eyes so that he might see. Let us be aware that we do not do things backwards. Let us put Christ first as Savior and then display good works.