The cabinet in my kitchen was way overdue for a cleaning and de-cluttering. It had come to the point where it was no longer functional because there were too many things stored in there, and I could never find what I was looking for. Once we sorted through everything, discarding some items and putting others in order, the cabinet became useful again. Everything was in order.
Perhaps we have allowed our hearts to become so cluttered and distracted that we are numb, spiritually and emotionally paralyzed, immobile and dysfunctional. Maybe it happened when we became disillusioned with our faith because we didn’t get the answers we wanted, or our circumstances overwhelmed us, or life just got in the way of our walk with God. Whatever the reason, apathy and indifference toward God can take hold, causing us to become cold and unfeeling. There is a way out. It's a process that we will look at first in the natural, then in the spiritual.
When wicked king Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah inherited the kingdom. Hezekiah was only 25 years old when he became king of Judah, a nation that had broken their covenant with the one true God and was serving idols. Ahaz had even shut the doors to God's Temple and set up places for idol worship "in every corner of Jerusalem." Jerusalem was the capital city. The people had become cold toward God and were searching for answers everywhere but the right place. They had no interest or concern for the things of God. They ran after the latest fads and gods who they hoped would deliver them from their enemies, but things just got worse. They didn't need to change their god; they needed to change their hearts and return to Jehovah.
When Hezekiah became king, he did not sit passively by and allow his nation to continue to be trampled on by other nations because of their paganism. He knew the cause and he did something about it before they were completely destroyed.
In the first year of his reign, he reopened the doors of the temple and repaired them. Then he called on the Levites to remove all the “filthiness out of the holy place”. So, they cleansed it. After the removal of the things that were not supposed to be in the temple, they returned the vessels that were supposed to be there and cleansed them. After this cleansing process, they were free to begin offering the sacrifices God required of them. Worship returned to the house of God, and once again God blessed the nation of Judah and protected them from their enemies.
It seems a large part of the Church is in a place of apathy. There is an absence of passion for the Kingdom of God. Few seem to be interested in hearing God's Word, and even fewer have a desire to follow what He says. We have settled for less and have become comfortable without the Holy Spirit among us. So we have no power, no discernment, no godly wisdom.
What is the remedy for our apathy and spiritual paralysis? for our lack of power? The first step is to reopen the door of our hearts. We are the temple of God. He wants to have access to us consistently, not just an occasional visit. When we open the door and give God access, He speaks to us. We give Him entrance when we pray - sincere, passionate prayer - not a rote formula we slumber through. We also open the door when we study His Word, the Bible, and take it to heart, allowing it to change and renew us on the inside and ultimately on the outside.
The Word of God is our source of truth, strength and wisdom, but how well do we know it? How much of what we know is operative in our lives? It's not enough to hear it, mentally agree, be enlightened, and walk away. We need to live the Word every moment day in and day out.
Jesus teaches us to remain consistently connected to Him. It’s called walking in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Jesus told some of His followers, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 – NKJV) This abiding in the Word, walking in the Spirit, will change every aspect of our lives and give us freedom. It’s not a walk of duty and obligation, but one of love and relationship with God.
WARNING: When we give Jesus access, His light of truth and righteousness will shine on everything in us and expose what is not truth and righteousness. In other words, His light will show us the places in us that need to be cleansed and the filth that needs to be carried away. He doesn’t expose those areas to condemn us, but with love, assuring us He will help us through the whole process of removing the filthiness and restoring what is good.
Today, good is called evil and evil is called good. We need to be aware of the difference in the two, and the only way we can do that is through the Word of God as it is revealed to us by the Spirit of God. If we are not careful, we can fool ourselves into believing we are living according to God's Word just because we have a mental knowledge of what it says. We need to allow God to shine His light of truth deep into our hearts before we will know where we really stand. We can let Him do that now while we have a chance to change, or we can wait until the end when it is too late. The New Living Translation renders Romans 2:16 like this: "And this is the message I proclaim - that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone's secret life." When that day comes, I want to have already dealt with the sins of the “secret life”.
Every thought, every action, every attitude that lifts itself above the Word of God in our lives needs to go or be put in its proper place. We have to be ruthless in cleansing our temple if we want the fire of God’s Spirit to fall on us. Under the Old Covenant, there were certain procedures of preparation before the sacrifices would be accepted. Even now our hearts must be prepared before our sacrifice will be accepted.
Romans 12:1-2 tells us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
In order to acceptably offer this living sacrifice to God, we need to be cleansed and no longer molded into the image of this world, but changed by the power of God to be like Him. We are changed step by step, day by day, as we walk in the Spirit.
We will find it well worth the cleansing process when the Spirit of God fills (or refills) us with His power, knowledge, wisdom, righteousness, enlightenment and all the other treasures of His Kingdom. We can receive light in the middle of this dark world, and we can have our passion for Christ and His kingdom renewed.
Allowing Jesus to cleanse our temple is the beginning of freedom. Only then can our hearts sing in pure worship. Only then can we shine this light into the hearts of others, remembering we have been blessed so we can be a blessing.
"Learn as you go along what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless pleasures of evil and darkness, but instead, rebuke and expose them...But when you expose them, the light shines in upon their sin and shows it up, and when they see how wrong they really are, some of them may even become children of light! That is why God says in the Scriptures, “Awake, O sleeper, and rise up from the dead; and Christ shall give you light. So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to." (Ephesians 5:10-17 – TLB)
Let God arise in your heart! Shake off the bands that keep you bound.
You can be free indeed!