Jesus told the parable of the man healed of the unclean spirit who ended up in a worse condition than he had suffered before he was purged. He had nothing to take the place in his life previously occupied by that spirit. “And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” Luke 11:25-26
In 1830 Thomas Chalmers spoke of The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, expanding on this theme. He said that the best reformer of our life is not redoubled effort in overcoming our sinful patterns. Rather, the best progress is made when our hearts are filled to the brim with the joy that comes from our close relationship with the Father who has adopted us.
Charles Spurgeon also wrote of this phenomenon in his devotional Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden 1883.
Spurgeon begins by quoting a Puritan from the early 17th century, Thomas Manton: “Old leaves, if they remain upon the trees through the autumn and the winter–fall off in the spring.” Spurgeon elaborates:
We have seen a hedge all thick with dry leaves throughout the winter, and neither frost nor wind has removed the withered foliage–but the spring has soon cleared them off. The new life dislodges the old, pushing it away as unsuitable to it.
In the same way, our old corruptions are best removed by the growth of new graces.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
It is as the new life buds and opens, that the old worn-out things of our former state are compelled to give up their hold of us. Our wisdom lies in living near to God, that by the power of His Holy Spirit all our graces may be vigorous, and may exercise a sin-expelling power over our lives — the new leaves of grace pushing off our old worldly affections and habits of sin.
With new converts, it is often better not to lay down stringent rules as to worldly amusements–but leave the new life and its holier joys, to push off the old pleasures. Thus it will be done more naturally and more effectively.
We have all heard of the expulsive power of a new affection. This new affection of love to God coming into the soul, expels love to sin!
Spurgeon prays: Lord, let Your life in me, push off the relics of my former sinful self–that I may put on the new man, and manifest Your transforming grace!