Thursday, April 3, 2014
It is that time of year again… time to clear out those closets and straighten up the garage and the shed in the back yard and get rid of all the junk that has piled up over the winter/or even over the years!
How many of you are racked with fear and trembling when you hear the phrase ‘Spring Cleaning’? I know that my heart sinks and I want to crawl under my recliner when I hear my wife say, “You know we should clean out [insert any part of the house here]…”
Now, I know my wife's intentions and her heart and they are in the right place. I know she is NOT trying to punish me or depress me. I also know that the result of what she is asking will be a very GOOD thing as our home will become more organized and we will know where our stuff is and we will have a sense of accomplishment in knowing that the particular portion of the house we clean is as it should be!
How does this relate to us as believers? Well I believe the Holy Spirit comes to us, and NOT just in the Spring time, but whenever it is needed and He calls us to ‘clean out’ specific areas within our heart and life so that our Christian walk is as clean as it can be! The natural tendency for the believer is to cringe at the thought of ‘cleaning up’ their lives by getting rid of something. This is usually because most believers feel they may want or need whatever it is they are giving up later in their lives.
I was recently reading in Judges 1 where the children of Israel were entering the Promised Land and were taking control of the land. Joshua had died and the people were 'leaderless' for the first time in almost 80yrs. They cried out for a leader and God called Judah to lead his people, and as we read the chapter it seems as if each son of Israel and/or Joseph who was promised a portion for his line... was leading their clan/tribe.
Now, we must remember God's commandment to Moses/Joshua -- He had told them to completely drive out the people of the land! God was calling for a total house cleaning when it came to those who were dwelling in the land before the Israelites arrived. God did not want them intermingling with the inhabitants of Canaan because they worshiped false gods and were idolatrous in their ways. God knew they would influence and sway the children of Israel to disobey and abandon God. God desired them to clean house...
What we can see throughout this chapter is that the tribes did NOT drive out the inhabitants of the land as God had instructed them to do. They were unwilling to clean house as God had directed them to do, and we can see that the reason they did not drive out the inhabitants was NOT because they were not able to do so, but it was because they made the choice not to drive them out!
I find v28 to be the key verse as it tells us the Israelites had grown strong but they did not drive the people out... v28 reveals why and it was because they were able to force the Canaanites to work for them. Really this situation is sadly ironic in that here is a people that God had delivered from slavery/bondage and now they were enslaving another people in direct disobedience to God's plan.
The spiritual parallel here for us is that God has delivered US from the slavery/bondage of sin and has called us to drive out from our heart those things that had trapped and enslaved us before He came... Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossian church that we are to 'Put to death' those things contrary to God... sexual immorality, impure passions, evil desires, and covetousness. He also tells us to 'Put away' other things that hinder our walk in Christ... things like: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk, & lying to one another. These are the things of the old self.. and then he instructs us to 'Put On' the righteousness of Christ: things like compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness. Most importantly OBEDIENCE to His commands.
When we are delivered in Christ and then we seek to be disobedient by trying to NOT drive out these things we know are debilitating to our relationship with Him, we are being JUST LIKE the children of Israel here in Judges...their disobedience led to their ultimate destruction many yrs later.
Spiritual disobedience will lead to the destruction of our walk and witness in Christ... when the Holy Spirit comes and calls for us to clean out our spiritual house, we must act and not stop until it is done! Otherwise we will fall into the same predicament the children of Israel did when they decided their desire for a workforce was more important than God’s desire for their spiritual purity. We often find ourselves deciding that our desire for self-pleasure is more important to us than God’s desire for our spiritual well-being!
Spring cleaning is hard work and NEVER seems to happen at a convenient time for us men, but it is always worth the effort and the results are always pleasing! Spiritual spring cleaning is also hard work and it NEVER seems that us as believers have the time OR the will to make it happen. The issue is all about obedience and submission to Christ. Are you willing to surrender to His calling to clean out your heart and put on the cloak of righteousness which is Christ Himself? Are you willing?