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Kicking the Garbage to the Curb

It's that time of year when we get the urge to get rid of the junk we have collected over the past year. This would normally be the season of yard sales, garage sales, and huge piles of donations overflowing charity bins or delivered to thrift stores across the country. These are not normal times so we may be stuck with our junk until next year.

But the urge remains.

This morning I ask myself if the urge to remove the spiritual "junk" in my life is as strong as the urge to remove the physical junk is.

I was reading John 2 this morning, specifically the incident described by the author when Jesus entered the Temple and drove out those who were buying and selling within the confines of a house meant for prayer. When asked by what authority He did such a thing, He replied by saying that this "temple" would be destroyed and then rebuilt in three days. Those who asked the question did not understand that Jesus was referring to Himself. The earthly temple would be replaced on that day with the heavenly one—Himself— of which we are image-bearers. Jesus is, as John described earlier, "the Word [that is] God". (John 1:1) Paul speaks of us as being temples of God in which the Holy Spirit dwells and urges us to separate ourselves from that which does not honour that temple. (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Jesus, in His actions that day in the earthly temple, illustrated the efforts of the Spirit of God to remove from us what brings dishonour to Him when we do not deal with those things in our lives that do not contribute to the righteous behaviour expected of those who bear the image of God.

The Gospel is not just "fire insurance". It is "life insurance". We are not simply saved from eternal punishment for our sins, but given a new life, one that is both eternal and here-and-now. Romans 6 tells us, "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness…you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness…Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness…you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life".

And then, after describing in so much detail what this resurrected life looks like, Paul adds the verse that encapsulates both deliverance from the consequences of sin and the promise of new life. He writes: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".

There was a time when the debate raged over whether or not a person could accept Christ as his or her Saviour and leave acknowledging Him as Lord for a later date. While we are continually working on removing the "junk" from our lives in order to better imitate the One who lives within us, and therefore continually acknowledging Him as Lord over us by those efforts, Scripture is clear that Saviour and Lord is a package deal. At the moment of receiving Him as our Saviour, we have died to that old life and are committed to the new life by virtue of the fact that the Spirit of God comes to dwell in us, making us those "little temples" that reflect Jesus.

The urge to remove whatever contaminates our "temples" and does not bring glory to God will be, for the true believer, a constant. We take joy in knowing that, as we mature spiritually, we have dealt with much of that "junk". But as we mature we also realise that there is still much to be dealt with and each day becomes a renewed commitment to do as Paul enjoined us to do in Romans 12, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will".

Every day is a day to put out the garbage.

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