Clean House: Habitation

Clean House: Habitation

Today, we’re continuing our message series entitled, “Clean House.”  In it, we’re learning how to do some spiritual spring cleaning in our lives so that we can live them to their fullest without all of the clutter that weighs us down and trips us up.

One thing that always amazes me when watching the hoarder home reality shows is the mindset of the hoarder.  There they are crawling around through mountains of stuff, using a bucket for their restroom, eating moldy food, finding pets that died years ago under their rubble. 

Yet they sincerely don’t think that their condition is all that bad.  They have a reason and an excuse for every mess that gets pointed out to them.  To them, there is nothing wrong with their messes and everyone else is the problem.  They seclude themselves and cut off all outsiders from entering their home.  They begin to place their identity in their hoard and cannot objectively look at it.  They take it personally when anyone points out a problem with their home.

To clean house spiritually, we must begin with humility and honesty.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the conflict that they had regarding the leaders of the church that they were following.  He said:

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

We can’t trust even our own consciences.  We may not sense any guilt about our lifestyles at all, however, that does not make us innocent before God.  Even our very own heart and mind within us cannot be trusted to indicate our guilt or innocence.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

9 The heart is deceitful above all things

    and beyond cure.

    Who can understand it?

10 “I the Lord search the heart

    and examine the mind,

to reward each person according to their conduct,

    according to what their deeds deserve.”

That’s why David cried out:

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting.

To have a clean house of a life, we cannot lean into our own understanding.  We cannot look to our conscience.  We cannot trust our hearts.  We cannot believe our own thoughts.  They are all part of our old selves and prone to deceive us.

Again, we must go back to the architect and builder of our lives to show us anything that needs corrected in our lives.  We need to go to the One who can take an objective look at our lives and show us with clarity what is right and what is wrong.  We need God!

Jesus dealt with this issue often when interacting with the religious leaders.  Their lives looked great from outward appearances and they worked very hard to ensure that this was the case.  The Lord doesn’t look at outward appearances, though, only humans do.  God searches the heart and weighs motives to make a right judgment.

Jesus saw this reality within them.  He said that they were whitewashed tombs.  On the inside, their lives looked just like a hoarder’s home.  This is what religion unfortunately does.  So long as we look and act and speak a certain way, we are granted a false sense of security by others and think that this means that we are in right standing with God as well.

It’s not about what we say, but about who we are and our relationship with God that matters in life.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

In fact, just before Jesus shared this reality, He warned us about false prophets and how to recognize them.  A person can only hide what is inside of their lives for so long.  Eventually what is inside will reveal itself outwardly.  Watch someone’s response to when they are corrected or criticized or when they are told, “No.”  Often, that outward pressure forces what is on the inside to be revealed outwardly.

Matthew 7:15-19

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Live in such a way that there is no hidden or secret shameful thing in your life.  Live in such an honest and integral way that even if God were to shout to everyone what you whisper in private, there would be no embarrassment.  Live in such a way that anyone can look through your phone or browser history and find no surprises.  Be a disciple of Jesus, not a hypocrite!

Luke 12:1-7

1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you (speaking to His disciples) have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

We can choose to either be like the hoarder who is in deep denial about the truth of the condition of their home or we can be humble stewards of what God has entrusted to us.  We can choose to allow Him to search the home of our lives and to show us anything that needs dealt with.  We can choose to trust Him and work with Him to deal with anything that He points out.  Even if we have excuse and what we feel is a valid reason for having something in our lives, even if we see nothing wrong with it, we choose to surrender to Him and allow Him to have His way in our lives.

We shouldn’t fear people.  We shouldn’t fear what others think of us or what they say about us.  We shouldn’t fear the troubles of this world.  However, we should fear the Lord!  He is the One whom we have to give an account to for the life that He created and then entrusted to us.  Jesus goes on and says:

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

It sounds like an oxymoron.  Fear God, then don’t be afraid.  The truth is, the healthy fear and reverence of God is what drives out all other fear.  Knowing that we are fully known by God and fully loved by God leaves no room for fear of anything else.  If He knows the number of hairs on our heads and also when a single sparrow falls to the ground and cares for us both, what else is there to fear?

Fear of the Lord is understanding that we were purposefully created and entrusted with our lives by Him to whom we have to give an account to.  We might think that we’re living pretty good and moral lives and in right standing before God. 

However, we rarely ever find an account of someone standing in the Presence of God!  When in the throne room of God, Isaiah cried out, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  It wasn’t until his sin was atoned for by the fire of God that he could withstand being in God’s Presence.  Even when just being in the presence of an angel, people fall down realizing just how sinful and unholy we truly are!

We can only enter boldly and confidently into God’s Presence because we are covered by the blood of Jesus.  Jesus makes us righteous and covers all of our sin and shame.  Our confidence and boldness comes from Christ alone!  Even through Christ, we should fear God.  He has the authority to throw us straight into hell as we deserve!

We find this reality throughout the Old and New Covenants; the fear of God bringing about miraculous breakthroughs of God’s power and His salvation and deliverance.

Ananias and Sapphira died for lying to the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 5:11-16

11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

Acts 19:11-20

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Clean houses!  Sometimes, we just need to get scared straight!  Sometimes, we need a healthy reminder of the Holy God that we serve and to be shown a contrast of the unholy things in our lives.  It causes an urgency within us to get rid of anything in our lives that is offensive to God!

The fear of God brought revival!  People put their faith in Jesus and openly confessed all of their sin to everyone and publicly burned their sorcery scrolls at a great cost to them!  As a result, God’s word spread widely and grew in power!  Have you ever wondered why we aren’t experiencing the power of God like the early church did?  Have you ever wondered why our ministry seems to be less effective than theirs was, though it’s the same God at work through the same Holy Spirit in you and I?

Our culture has become so overly sensitive to offending and hurting people, but with no sensitivity to offending and grieving the Spirit of the Living God…  This is putting people above or beside God within our lives or what He calls an idol.  God does not share His place with another.  We need to reprioritize our lives so that we are first careful not to offend God, then be concerned with how we are affecting those around us.  Most of the time, putting God first will take care of how we treat others anyways.

It’s kind of like when you have a visitor coming over whom you admire and respect for the first time.  You look at your house a little differently than if a friend was coming over who visits often.  You look at your house with scrutiny.  Anything that is out of place finds a home.  Everything gets deep cleaned.  You put extra toilet paper rolls in the bathroom.  You even plug in the warmer or light a candle to be sure that everything not only looks nice, but that it smells nice, too.  You go the extra mile to make sure that your visitor feels welcomed and comfortable.

Do we live this way for the Lord?  Do we do all that we can to ensure that He is welcome, comfortable, and at rest in the house of our lives?  Have we prepared our lives as an altar and a throne for Him?  Is He highly honored?  Do we have a clean house of a life?

As we read through the Old Testament, we see the tedious and intentional task that it was to prepare the tabernacle and then the temple for God’s Presence.  It wasn’t just a one-season event, either.  It required constant day and night maintenance.  24/7 worship, sprinkling with blood, baking bread, burning incense, sacrifices and offerings, and on and on. 

Then, when people came to worship, they had to confess and then pay the high cost of sin and all of the washing and cleansing that they needed to go through.  These were not just mere rituals, but they were symbolic and literal practices that God required by faith.  There were even offerings prescribed for sin that was unknowingly committed.

As we read through the New Testament, we realize that we are now the temple of God and that His Presence fills our lives.  This is a weighty and serious matter!  Jesus paid a very high price to atone for all of our sin so that we can be cleansed of our sin and made righteous. 

What are we letting into our lives to share the place with God, though?  How well are we caring for God’s temple?  Are we aware of His Holy Presence within our lives?

This might be why things keep falling apart for us.  Consider this kind of humorous attempt of the Philistines to place God’s Presence alongside of another god.

1 Samuel 5

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with hemorrhoids (or tumors). 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of hemorrhoids. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with hemorrhoids, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

There is only one place for God in our lives, and it’s first.  God and His Kingdom first and foremost before anything or anyone else.  This is revealed both through the 10 commandments, the 2 greatest commandments, and in Jesus’ teaching.  God first.  None above or even beside.   All else is secondary.

If we try to place anything in our lives contrary to God’s plans and purposes for our lives, they will not work out.  Like Dagon, they will just keep falling apart no matter how hard we try to force things to happen.  It’s a practice in futility.  It will only lead to pain and sorrow and suffering.

Maybe instead of saying, “Dog gone it, why is this such a struggle?”, we need to ask the Lord, “Is this dog gone a Dagon? Is this something I need to let go of in my life?”

Let’s seek after God and allow Him to search us and test every part of who we are.  Let’s let Him show us any area of our lives that are not in agreement with His word or His purposes for us.  Then, let’s cooperate with Him to clean up the house of our lives.  Let’s not be like that willfully ignorant hoarder who chooses to see nothing wrong with their home!  We all have sin in our lives that needs dealt with!

Let’s make our lives an altar or a throne or a sanctuary or a temple or a habitation or whatever else you may want to consider it for God.  Let’s make our lives a place for God’s Presence to dwell.  That’s right, God doesn’t just want visitation rights or partial custody; God wants all that we are!  A dwelling place!

Making our lives a habitation for the Lord is the only way to live a full and abundant and blessed life of peace and fulfillment.  Let’s value His Presence more than anything else. 

Let’s be like the Ephesians that openly confessed all of their sin and burned away anything that offended God.  That was not a day of mourning, but a day of rejoicing!  Salvation had come to that town!  Revival had come to the people!  Because they made a place for God word in their lives, it invaded with power releasing healing and deliverance and provision and all else that God promises through it!