Today’s post is the eighth and final post in a series of posts about issues in our homes and hearts that may be in need of some spring cleaning. To read the first in the series, click here.
We’ve been working on our houses for a few weeks now. And if you are like me, you’ve probably been thinking about those areas that have been or currently are in desperate need of some cleaning out, reorganizing and washing. So, let’s talk about just how that necessary cleaning can take place.
First of all, we have to remember that our homes won’t clean themselves; it takes an act of our will to first decide that action needs to be taken and second to actually take that action – to get up and get to the hard work of cleaning. The same is true when it comes to purifying our hearts – it takes an act of our will to open ourselves up to allow God’s will to act on our hearts. It takes an act of our will to do the work that God may ask us to do in the process of this cleansing. We don’t actually do the cleaning on ourselves – that is God’s job, but where we differ from a house, we have to allow the cleaning to take place.
In addition, like a child that has to be shown how to clean and what to clean by someone who has done it before, we aren’t able to clean ourselves until God has shown us what needs to be cleaned. We may have other ideas about what needs to be cleaned in our lives, but only God knows where the really dirty spots are or where the junk is hiding out that needs to be taken out to the curb. It’s like if I were to tell Anne and Ty to go clean their rooms, but haven’t ever showed them what that means or how to do it, they will go in with their own ideas of what “clean” is. Only when I get in there with them and work with them will they see what I see and learn how to take care of it in the future.
That is a great parallel to what actually happened with humankind. You see, God gave us a way to clean ourselves up in the Old Testament. There was a whole book written about how to do it. It is called Leviticus. It is a fascinating, and yet very tedious and repetitive book. It says if X is true then Y is how you deal with it. It involves many different animals, their blood, water, fire, priests, you get the picture. It was a very detailed account for the Israelites to know how to be cleansed. The problem is, they just kept getting dirty again. So finally, God decided it was time to come down and get involved in the process. In fact, he didn’t just want to get involved, he wanted to do the cleaning for us. So He sent Jesus, who by his one-time sacrifice, gave us the opportunity to be cleansed forever. All we had to do was accept it.
And when we do, not only can we become clean, we become aware of God’s grace and our unworthiness to receive it. This is when we know that we cannot possibly get clean on our own and we have to give the glory to God for the changes in our lives.
Some of you may be wondering now, “I have given my heart over to God for cleansing and purifying, and yet I still struggle with some of these things.” We are human, we are going to struggle because we are still in this world, but the important thing to remember is God is always ready and waiting to do a little more cleansing, but we have to invite him in and let him. Our houses don’t get clean all at once and stay that way, we have to continually work on them. God has to always be at work on us, too, to bring His plan for our lives to completion.
I think about David’s psalm, written after His moral failure. Here is a man after God’s own heart and he made a big mess that was going to require much cleaning. Hear what he says in Psalm 51.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
This passage contains both confession of the sin and acknowledgement of guilt as David asks for forgiveness and restoration. Then there is a cleansing and creating. The cleansing being asked for here is a cleansing of the inmost place, where only God can see. Before God creates in us a new heart, we have to be clean. And this new heart is a created heart. It is completely transformed. Not a bit of the old heart of stone remains. And when that heart is created, our response is worship.
So in this time of spring cleaning, as you work on the various rooms of your home, spend some time working on the various rooms and issues of your heart as well. And remember it is not your responsibility to decide what gets done, but God’s. And it is not your work to cleanse, but God’s. Your job is to be open to the Lord’s cleansing. We have to let Him in to do the job, and the way we let Him is through confessing our sin and asking Him for a new heart. Ask Him for a new heart today. I John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.