"... the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

"... Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.'

"He answered, 'A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:14,38-42 TNIV)

Without trying to open up a can of worms as to how Christians should respond to Halloween, did you know Jesus once spoke of a haunted house? Well, he certainly did! And his story went something like this ...

The murderous-minded Pharisees had been telling Jesus: "Give us a sign and we'll tell you how things will go for you."

And Jesus, the Son of God, had responded: "I am your sign and sign enough I am. The wicked city of Nineveh knew what repentance is about and even Sheba's queen knew God's wisdom when she heard it, but you, well let me tell you how things are going for you."

And that's when Jesus brought up the haunted house business:

"When an evil spirit comes out of anyone, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:43-45 TNIV)

Quite a story, isn't it? Jesus doesn't tell it as if it were fiction, either; he tells it straight up as an undeniable fact. And I feel confident the power of his point was not lost on the Pharisees who heard him tell it. They surely understood that what Jesus was telling them was something like this:

"You've swept your house clean in a lot of ways, but you still won't let God and his kingdom into your heart. Deny me and my link with his kingdom and you will be worse off than if you had never met me. You say you love God, but the truth of the matter is that Satan lives in you!"

And such is the way it is for many still today, no doubt!

You cannot afford to underestimate the power of the work of Satan. He can be taken aback, set back and rolled back, but he is not out of the game. Just because the evil spirit that has tormented you and attempted to trip you up has apparently left you alone for now, don't think for a minute you can leave the place he vacated empty. And if you will not invite God's good Spirit to fill up your freed up time and ways, rest assured Satan will be all the more pleased to send more of his spirits to afflict you and haunt you. And rest assured, they will be more than happy to do all they can to help make your life unclean enough to live in again!

There are many false ways that claim to be Christian faith. One of the most common and dangerous of false ways of faith is the way that spends most of its time and energy on attacking what is wrong and spending little, if any, energy and time on nurturing the development of positive Christian character. You can say "No" to what you know is sin, but if you don't say "Yes" to what you know is from God, sin will ultimately only grow deeper and darker in you. And then the sin you now despise will only be harder for you to recognize and more challenging from which to turn. Or as someone once said:

"... a repentance which does not lead to a new allegiance leaves a void which the devil will exploit; he who is not positively with Jesus must inevitably end up against him."

You cannot afford to underestimate the power of the work of Satan.
The once haunted house you will never want to visit is your own heart darkened and calloused by repeated, half-hearted repentance. Keeping Satan's temptations at bay is as much about filling up as it about cleaning out!

So fill up your life with what you know to be good and refuse to give any demon any leeway. Read your Bible. Take time to truly pray. Turn off the television and call up that friend you know who needs encouragement. Skip that trip for your own pleasure and visit that one you know is shut-in and lonely instead. Don't feed your appetite for things with more of what you call innocent "window- shopping"; instead, sell a few things and give your money to a missionary. Don't play hookie from church; be the church and be with the church every time it's possible for you to do so. Don't give the devil a foothold and give the Spirit a leg up!

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7b)

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)

"... go about doing good ..." (Acts 10:38)

"To those who persist in doing good ... he will give eternal life." (Romans 2:7)

You'll sleep better at night knowing your house isn't haunted!