A L O O K I N T O T H E A P O S T L E ' S H E A R T
Spring is in the air. Where I live, the daffodils and tulips are in full bloom, the sparrows and swallows are returning from their winter away, young lambs are frolicking in green pastures, and new calves are teetering beside their protective mothers. The air is filled with the sights and sounds of life, and everywhere I turn there are reminders that spring is here.
With the arrival of warmer days and longer periods of daylight comes the urge to spring clean. Whether it’s deep cleaning the inside of the house and chasing down those illusive cobwebs or tackling some of the outside cleaning, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Maybe you and your family don’t do spring cleaning per say, but I’m sure you’ve heard the term. Therefore, it’s fitting that we should keep this idea of deep cleaning and spring cleaning in our minds as we turn to II Corinthians 7 and read the first verse.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
Because of the Promises
What are the promises Paul is referring to? The answer to that is found at the end of chapter six where we have God’s declaration that He will dwell among us and be a Father to us if we separate ourselves from the world and honor Him. Because of these precious promises, we should be motivated and compelled to cleanse ourselves from sin. After all, we are God’s temple, God’s house, and therefore, we should look like it!
Not only should we cleanse ourselves from sin, but here, Paul says we should rid ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit. What does this mean? The Greek word used here for defilement is molysmos which means “stain, immorality, filthiness.” In other words, we should cleanse ourselves from every stamp, impression, mindset, residue, or pollution the ungodly world has left on us. Every defilement refers not only to the sins we commit, but also to the stains and imprints the world leaves on us as we walk through this godless culture.
For example: Your house may be spotless inside. Not a speck of dust or dirt anywhere with everything in its proper place. The yard may be perfectly mown and weeded with the flower beds manicured to perfection. However, along comes a neighbor walking his dog and as they pass by your house, the dog smells something interesting and wanders onto your perfect lawn. To your horror, that dog then proceeds to do business and leaves a perfect pile of filth right in the middle of your perfect yard. The owner could care less and continues walking his dog down the street without a thought to the damage that has been done.
Now your yard has been soiled and is no longer spotless. But it wasn’t your fault that this happened. You were innocent. Will you leave the filth there? Just because you didn’t put it there doesn’t mean that it’s not there. You should clean it up so that your house and yard can return to its state of perfection.
Likewise, we live our lives out and about among godless people in a godless culture. While we might not intentionally allow sin into our lives, the world can and does leave ungodly impressions on us. They may take various forms from the way we perceive things to our thought processes. Nevertheless, these imprints and stains from the world need to be cleaned out of our lives. They don’t belong in God’s temple. They belong to the every defilement of the body and spirit that needs to be purged and removed from our lives. So let us beware of the subtle ways the world influences us and brings defilement to God’s temple.
Holiness to Completion
Why do we need to do all this? So far we’ve seen the motivation—because of the promises—the action—cleansing from every defilement—and now it’s time to look at the purpose or goal. “Bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” That’s the goal and purpose behind why we need to spring clean our temple.
But, you may ask, why do we need to bring holiness to completion when God is the one who makes us holy? True. God is the one who makes us holy. However, it is our job to live like it. Other translations of the Greek word for completion are accomplish, execute, fulfill further. It’s not that we are making ourselves holy by cleaning our temple, but we are executing God’s will for us, we’re accomplishing the plan, and fulfilling further our setting apart or holiness before God. This is the reason why we clean house and why we need to remove every defilement from our lives. Because God can only dwell in holiness, we need to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God.
So are you inspired and motivated to go do some spiritual spring cleaning? I know I’ve been convicted to do so. Therefore, let’s get to it and make our hearts—God’s home—a place of beauty, perfection, cleanliness, and complete holiness.