Spring Clean Your Heart

How amazing it is to lay down at the feet of Jesus the things I cannot clean out myself!

If you’ve ever been to the World of Coke in Atlanta, chances are you’ve tried the infamous Beverly soft drink. Working with middle schoolers, I had heard how atrocious it was, but I figured they were being typical dramatic teenagers. I could never have imagined just how terrible it was. When I finally got around to going there and trying it myself, I was flabbergasted - how could something that seemed just like a regular soda be so bad? It looks the same as any regular soda and is found in the same place as regular soda, but truly could be used as a form of cruel and unusual punishment against your taste buds.

My point is that a lot of us have found our spiritual lives to be just like Beverly at one point or another. You look just like a good Christian, you may even act just like a good Christian, but inside you are disgusting. And you don’t want people to know. Everything looks good on Instagram, but the reality is that your insides - your spirit - are rotting, and you need God to come and clean it all out. 

Mark 7:20-23 says, “And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Just like it’s the ingredients that make Beverly gross, this verse tells us that it’s what’s within that defiles us. I really like what The Message version of the Bible says about these things: that they are vomit from the heart.

And can I just be real here for a second? Maybe you haven’t dealt with all of these - I hope none of you struggle with a recurring sin of murder - but I guarantee each and every one of us struggles with at least some of these. Greed? Foolishness? Pride? Check, check, and check. The Bible doesn’t just say these things are unfortunate; it says we were dead because of our sins. In our flesh, we are greedy and selfish and have sinful desires, and they defile us.

And let’s be clear here: I’m not telling you these things so you sit here and feel bad about yourself. None of us are clean on our own. God knew we couldn’t live a blameless life. None of us are good enough to clean our hearts that are like vomit. I’m telling you this because you need help.

When I was about 12 years old, there was a case of arson in my hometown: they lit the field on fire behind my house. My dad saw it first, and he immediately got the water hose and started trying to spray around the outside of our house. I started trying to shove all the important documents in a backpack. My mom went out with a bucket, trying to wet the grass. But at the end of the day, in all honesty, there was no way a water hose was going to stop this raging fire. We were completely helpless on our own, trying to stop this huge, all-consuming thing. But really, we were foolish. Some of y’all are out here trying to stop a forest fire that’s eating away at your heart with a bucket full of bath water. It’s never going to work. 

You know who saved our house? The fireman. The professionals.

We couldn’t do it on our own. And you can’t stop the sin that ravages your heart and soul on your own, either.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have any responsibilities - because we do.

2 Timothy 2 20-21 (The Message) says this:
In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.”

This is a really poignant image of our need to be holy, or set apart. God wants us to be the crystal goblets - pure vessels - who are completing their purposes for Him.

This verse tells us to become the kind of container God can use. That gives us hope, and lets us know we can change to be more holy.

How do we do that?

2 Timothy 2:22 says this:
​​"Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts."

Does that say “just try to stay away from things that are really bad”? No! It says run from anything! That means run from anything that is going to cause you to stumble. People, video games, music, news - ANYTHING!!!

When we run from things that cause us to sin, we are pursuing God’s holiness, goodness, and righteousness. 

This is where an idea that we don’t talk about a whole lot at church comes into play: repentance. 

Repentance to me in the past had always felt like I was coming forward to a teacher to get scolded. It felt like saying, “Here are all the ways I’ve messed up. Here are all the ways you shouldn’t love me.” But in the last few years of my life, I’ve started to see it as a really beautiful thing. 

How amazing it is to lay down at the feet of Jesus the things I cannot clean out myself!

In order to be obedient, I first have to confess the ways I haven’t been: to show God the mess in my heart. 

We have to give our junk over to God in order to be pure. We have to repent and run away from the things that make our hearts like vomit. 

This vomit stains and darkens our hearts. You have to bring darkness out into the light. In the darkness, Satan can feed you lies and make you doubt. But the Bible is living proof that God uses sinful people to share the gospel, to change history, and to rule kingdoms. Your sin doesn’t make you useless to God, because we serve a God who frees us from shame. One who turns us from a garbage can to a silver goblet. One who puts out fires, even ones we’ve started ourselves. 

So today I want to invite you to let God clean out the junk that’s disgusting and defiling your heart, and turn to obedience in Him. 

Here are two prayers I want to encourage you to pray. The first is from a worship song I go back to over and over when thinking about holiness and repentance. The second is a scripture from the Psalms. 

"Psalm 19" by Jess Ray
Purify my heart,
May every word, every thought
Every motive, every intention
Be pleasing in your sight O God

Psalm 51:1-2
"Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin."

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