Spring cleaning is the task of identifying what is no longer needed or desired. Many of us are committed to get rid of the old things in anticipation of replacing them with something new. Yes, we are meticulous with discarding unwanted tangible items, but what about our undesirable character traits?
One of my favorite quotes is by Lao Tzu: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Because of the negative impact that sin brings to humanity, there are a couple of things that we are involved in a battle with: Self-governance and Self-control. No one wants to admit that they have these ongoing issues, including me. In case you think that is simply not true, have you ever driven over the speed-limit or wished the pedestrian caught in the middle of the walkway when the light changed would hurry up? What about your emotions? Did you ever take out your frustrations on an innocent victim? What about the bitter fruits spoken in anger against those that you love? Did you change the story so that you appeared to be the victim instead of the instigator?
God was fully aware that we would be drawn to lawlessness and lack of self-control. Historically, we may have learned in academic settings how and when the various governments were established. Still, the scripture tells us that God established laws before the creation of humanity. Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.”
The exception of obeying our government’s laws is when they conflict with God’s law, precepts, and commands. As believers, we can agree that God, our Creator made human beings and that He has given us the ability to reproduce children. He also commands us that since He created human life that we do not have the right to take another person’s life or our own life. The fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill (You must not murder, NLT). Exodus 20:13. Just because the current law allows us to have abortions, the government’s law is in direct conflict with God’s law.
We are unable to rationalize or justify obedience vs. disobedience according to our thought processes. Jesus Christ tells us, “If you love me, obey my commandments. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” John 14:15, 21
The fruit of self-control requires that we apply structure and discipline to every area of our lives. So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31. Did you notice that God specifically addressed appetite as one of the most significant areas where we lack self-control? We are so out of control with our desires that the FDA has approved genetically reproduced animals to meet supply and demand. Without self-control of what and when we eat and drink, it is impossible to obey God.
God never said that it would be easy to obey Him. First and foremost, we must love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind to possess the desire to be obedient.
Human Effort: Now, the easy part: We commit, confess, repent, and pray to have the Holy Spirit in our lives every day. Studying the Bible provides us with God’s standards and expectations. But, here’s the challenge: And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6. God has provided us with a seed of faith. Even so, believing, trusting, and seeking Him through diligent studying, and consistent praying is the only way for our faith to develop and grow, and for us to get rid of the old life.
Divine Intervention: Instruction and Guidance
- “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? 37, Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:36-39
- 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:16, 22-23
- “Do not call to mind the former things; pay no attention to the things of old.” Isaiah 43:18
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17. Accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior initiated the spiritual transformation, and then it is our responsibility to obey by performing a spiritual spring cleaning every day.
How can we spring clean every day? We use the Bible as our spiritual mirror and humbly admit through the prayer of confession and repentance that we have kept some words, thoughts, and behaviors from our old life. Next, we make a conscious effort to stop, pray for strength, and hold back the bitter words and ungodly behaviors. Yes, we will struggle to change as God cleans us through tests and trials. But remember that we are not alone: I can (and will) do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13. Hallelujah! We will have the Victory!
God, give us a clean heart that we may serve you with all of our heart, soul, and mind. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.