Monday, September 10, 2012
Download MP3 (right click to save)
It took me a while to get up the courage to clean our garage. It might have taken you time to do it too, if you had seen what shape it was in! I mean, there was the general accumulated "mess" that hadn't been touched for awhile. And then there was the mess left from youth ministry stored there. On top of that, different members of our family and staff had been going, and borrowing and returning, and borrowing and returning, and oh my goodness! The mess was there.
Oh, and then there was the mess from various friends who use our garage to store some of their things. All in all, we had discovered a new peak to be climbed. We called it Mount Mess! And there it was right in front of me. So, get on my work clothes, go downstairs, take a deep breath and I almost turned around and gave up. My first thought, "How about we torch it." No, we need to clean it. I thought maybe that would be the simplest answer. No, it's not good. But the question that depressed me was one that you've probably asked while facing a Mount Mess of your own, "Where do I start?"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Where Do I Start Cleaning?"
Our word for today from the Word of God, John 2, and I'm going to begin reading verses 13-16. "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts, He found men selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area; both sheep and cattle. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves, He said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father's house into a market.'"
I'll tell you what's incredible about this. This is Jesus' first appearance in Jerusalem. Want to make a good impression? He's going to the big city. You'd think He'd want to make a nice, positive impact there when He arrives. But notice what His first act is. It's not a miracle, it's not a healing, and it's not a sermon. It's an indignity - an attack - against sin in God's house.
Now, you and I are living in a world that morally resembles my un-cleaned garage - it is a spiritual mess. Sex has been divorced from love and commitment. Speaking of divorce, it's the most common "answer" for marital problems. Lying is so common you pretty much expect people not to be telling the truth. There's garbage permeating our media input, and it just goes on and on. Where are we going to start cleaning?
Well, Jesus will say, "Start by cleaning up My house." That's where He started. 1 Peter 4:17 says, "Judgment must begin at the house of God." A. W. Tozer said, "The Bible will not die in the hands of Communists, or humanists, or atheists, or abortionists. It will die in the hands of its friends because they don't use it themselves."
See, we've become amazingly casual about sin. Oh, we're against it, but we flirt with it and we see how close we can get to it. We read about it, we watch it being portrayed, we laugh about it, and we allow creeping compromise to erode what was once a much higher standard in our lives just a short time ago. Jesus takes a whip to sin when it's tolerated in His house, and you're His house now.
See, the Bible says we're the temple of the Holy Spirit; He lives in you. Now, you may look righteous compared to the rest of the people around you, but your standard isn't them. It's the personal holiness of Jesus himself. Oh, sure, we should fight the decay in our lost world, but we should turn most of our guns on our own sin - our own compromise. Many people are not considering Christ because they've never seen an alternative in someone their own age who is really living for Christ, demonstrating the difference.
The history of revival throughout the church tells us that whenever God's people start hating the sin in their own lives, tens of thousands of people start finding Christ. So, where do I start cleaning with the mess inside my own heart?