“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. “
Spring is a time when we think of opening the windows, airing out the house, and deep cleaning everything from top to bottom. It is a time of renewal, energy, and growth. We’ve recently purchased a house, and are in the process of painting, rearranging, and LOTS of cleaning. Although there is much work and effort involved, I know it will be worth it in the long run.
We also need a time of “cleaning house” in our spiritual lives. We need to open the windows of our souls, let the Son come pouring in, and illuminate all the dust, cobwebs, clutter, and downright dirt that we have allowed to accumulate in our hearts and minds.
We sometimes call this revival. Revival is not something that has to take place in a special service of the church, although it may. Rather, it is something that should take place in our spirits whenever we realize that we have allowed spiritual coldness to creep in and take over our lives. So, let’s do some “spring cleaning”!
I. A Candid Evaluation
Have you ever been in denial about the state of your home until you find out company’s coming over? Suddenly what seemed “good enough” sends us into a frenzy of cleaning! I’m afraid we’re often that way spiritually too. We don’t really get honest about our true condition until we’re forced to.
We need to evaluate ourselves according to the Word of God, not our own opinions, for the Bible tells us that, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.” (Pro. 16:2) Our cleansing needs to be not just the “externals”, but a true inward assessment and cleansing (Mt. 23:25-26). Many times, we “clean” the surfaces of our homes – dust, vacuum, wipe the counters, do the dishes….and those things are important! But Jesus gave a wonderful example. If we only wash the outside of the cup, and the inside is still dirty, no one wants to drink from it! God doesn’t want us to just “clean up the outside” of our lives (although that’s important too!). He desires “truth in the inward parts” (Ps. 51:6). I Jn. 1:5-10 gives us a good explanation of looking at ourselves from our perspective versus God’s perspective. We cannot get clean until we admit we’re dirty!
II. A Complete Elimination
Before we can start really cleaning, we usually have to get rid of the excess. (Heb. 12:1) This includes getting in places where we like to stash or hide things – like cabinets, closets, and attics. (Ps. 19:12; 90:8; Eccl. 12:14)
When we begin our “spring cleaning”, we first need to get rid of our “trash”. This is sin in our lives. We need to be willing to get rid of it completely.
Second, we must be willing to get rid of our “trinkets”. Some would call this de-cluttering. Hebrews describes this by saying we need to “lay aside every weight”. Clutter is not always bad (or sinful), but so many times, we allow good things to crowd out the best things in our lives.
III. A Cleansing Endeavor
If we want something to be clean, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We can realize the need, but if we don’t take action, nothing will change.
First, we need to realize what our spiritual “cleaning agents” are. We cannot be spiritually clean without these two things:
1. The blood of Christ (I Jn. 1:7, 9), and
2. The Word of Christ (Eph. 5:26; Ps. 119:9, 11)
We can have the best and most effective cleansers in the world sitting under our kitchen sinks, but until we get them out and use them, they are as ineffective as if they were still sitting on the store shelf. In the same manner, there is no doubt that the blood of Christ will cleanse us from all sin, and the washing of the Word will help us to stay clean…if we use them. These are the only things that can cleanse our souls and spirits, but what are the catalysts that activate these cleansers in our lives? The first is confession (I Jn. 1:9), and the second is obedience (Ps. 119:9, 11).
We have the blood of Christ and the Word of Christ available to us, but how often do we leave them “sitting on a shelf” in our lives because we refuse to confess our sin, and walk in obedience to the Word of God? Cleansing can only happen when we allow it.
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. “ (II Cor. 7:1) “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (Jas. 4:8)
IV. A Continual Effort
Every woman knows that things don’t stay clean! This can be very frustrating at times, but the truth is that if we want our homes to stay clean, we have to work at it every day.
Spiritually this is true as well. We live in sinful flesh, and we must continually come to God for cleansing. While it is good to do “spring cleaning” once in a while, it is so much better to maintain a clean life. (Gal. 5:16) (Ps. 24:3-5) A daily walk with the Lord, and faithful attendance to His house will do much to keep our hearts right before Him. And when we keep things maintained, instead of dreading and avoiding the times of “spring cleaning”, they become a time of refreshment and renewal.
How do you seek to maintain a clean heart? Do you have times of “spring cleaning” that you seek to do in your spiritual life? What are they? Revival service at your church? The new year? A ladies conference? A personal wake-up call from the Lord? I’d love to hear about it!