Garbage is simply that which goes to waste. It has no positive value, serves no meaningful purpose and is therefore good only to be discarded or burned up. When we let our trash overflow with useless waste, the mess only inhibits the freedom and joy the “abundant life” (John 10:10) wants to give us. Waste gets in the way, it smells up the house, and detracts us from the beautiful, rightly ordered life God has made us for.
The first thing sin does as it stinks up the rest of our life. Sin therefore needs to be disposed of before it piles up and fills our whole body with its foul stench. Cut up a cantalope and leave the seeds and peels in the trash for a few days and what happens? The entire house begins to reek terribly. Or try visiting your son’s college apartment where he and six other boys have lived without cleaning for nine months. The bathroom, kitchen and rest are all coated with dirt, grime, grease, crumbs, dust, hair, and soap scum. It’s not a pretty picture, nor an appealing smell. Like rotten eggs or sour milk, sin needs to be reckoned with immediately or it will leave us miserable-gagging and gasping for fresh air.
Back in college seven of us shared a three-bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Since a couple of us valued a clean and sanitary living environment, we decided that we needed to establish some ground rules for keeping our apartment clean. We held an official meeting the first week where we drew up an official House Charter we all agreed to live by. We delineated the cleaning tasks that needed to be regularly performed and set up the rotation schedule we were to follow.
As each person fulfilled their scheduled tasks, we were able to keep the apartment relatively clean, orderly and odor-free. But whenever one of us slacked on our job-say, forgetting to clean our week-old chicken Chow Mein out of the refrigerator or take out the trash-we would all pay the consequences.
Likewise, our sin is social. It not only stinks up our own lives but those around us as well. Luckily, like our House Charter in college, God has provided a plan for us to follow in order to keep our lives clean from the effects of sin. We are told that our own bodies are the new temple of God, where his Holy Spirit has chosen to dwell (1 Cor 3:16). Therefore, we must keep our spiritual house clean and free of spiritual waste. Paul writes to the Corinthian church urging them to
Avoid immorality… Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory (1 Cor 6:18-20).
To the extent that we allow Satan to invade our lives with his empty lies and lead us into sin, we bring our entire house into disarray. It could be lustful thoughts, family grudges, paralyzing fears, uncontrolled anger, materialistic attachments, sexual immorality, selfish pride or self-doubt. Whatever the garbage, eventually we all need to do some serious “spring house cleaning of the soul.”
But where then do we start?
NEXT: “Spring House Cleaning of the Soul”