“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
John (Jesus’ best friend and early church leader) wrote 3 letters to a first century church in Asia. This is from the first letter, Chapter 1 verse 8-10.
Let’s Talk About Sin
Let’s get it out in the open. You and I are not just imperfect. We are sinners of the first degree. We commit sin daily, sometimes willingly, sometimes unknowingly, but always sinfully. Left to ourselves, we are sinful, wicked, evil, unholy, selfish, greedy, and completely depraved.
Left to ourselves.
You don’t like that do you?
Don’t worry, I didn’t like writing it. Truth is hard to come by these days. We don’t want it, but we know we need it, but we still choose to ignore it, even though we know it probably sets us free.
Why is that?
Left to ourselves.
But God doesn’t and hasn’t left us to ourselves has He? God’s not content to leave us to ourselves. He knows we need something more. But sometimes it isn’t until we’ve exhausted our own ingenuity, our own self-dependence, and our own goodness, that we realize that we just can’t do it anymore. And so, in the midst of our sin, we sin some more.
We eat healthy foods, get plenty of excercise (or we don’t), strengthen our physical bodies, and do our “cleanses” thinking this will make us feel better…and it does for a time. But something deeper needs cleaning. We can’t paint the outside of this house and expect people to think its clean if we haven’t done the deep cleaning inside, can we?
Today, I want to help you understand a few things about the soul cleanse that can and must take place for you and I if we are going to get unstuck. Here are my five methods in starting a soul-cleanse. Maybe this will help you this Monday morning as you start your day and get your heart right before Jesus.
- Realize you can’t do this on your own. You weren’t designed to go it alone. You aren’t a super hero, you aren’t a lone ranger, you aren’t a god. You are needy and helpless without Jesus to purify you and without people to walk with as you travel along in life.
- Confess your sins. I’m not talking about going to your local Catholic priest and telling him (or her). I’m saying confess your sins to God. He is the one you’ve offended. He is the one who you need to talk to. A priest is a stranger. If you are going to confess your sins to a person, pick someone you know, who knows you and who won’t judge you for your sin. Begin with Jesus though. Call to mind specific sins, sins of word and deed, sins of thought and action. And then confess the sins you don’t even know you commit. The insensitivity to others, the passive attitude that gets you in trouble with your spouse or your friends, or the fallout that comes from your “bull in a china shop” way of living. Some sins you commit intentionally, some sins flow from your sinful nature. Confess them all and bring them straight to the throne of God. He is faithful to forgive.
- Get very intentional about your spiritual life. Make a habit of attending a worship gathering once a week. Talk to some friends and get together to study the Bible and talk about your lives once a week. Eat a meal with someone you don’t know once a week for the purpose of getting to know them and loving them well. Go purchase an easy to read version of Scripture such as the New Living Translation or The Message, not to study, but just to read and familiarize yourself with the Story of God found in the Bible. Set aside a half an hour or an hour to pray once a week. Serve somebody in your neighborhood. Bake a cake or some cookies and bring them to work. Encourage someone who is struggling. Get intentional about your spiritual life. Don’t think that it is only God that grows your faith, get out and work that faith muscle out.
- Be Quiet. Shut up for a minute. Shut up for a day. Shut up and begin listening. Turn off all the noise and the distractions in your life and just be still. Psalm 46:10 says to “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Recognize who the Story of your Life belongs to and submit to Him. Stop striving, manipulating, struggling, forcing, or panhandling. Let the dust of your life settle around you and stop doing. Just Be. Let the Spirit of God cleanse your filthy heart.
- Live in Freedom. “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” (Galatians 5:1 THE MESSAGE) A soul cleanse means being set free from the burden of your own sin. You don’t have to keep your life together, you just have to give away to the One who can. You are special. Your life has meaning and purpose. You may be a sinner, but you don’t have to remain one. New life and freedom come to those who willingly and willfully give themselves to Jesus. He not only cleanses your heart, He gives you a brand new one! A brand new one! This is true freedom. Not to live from your heart, but to be given the brand new heart of God. And then, everything you do comes from a heart that has been recreated into a purified soul that loves and lives and believes that God can do more than we ever could do on our own.
The soul cleanse is a radical shift for many of us. But it is the only way in finding true freedom in following Jesus. You cannot follow Him if you haven’t got His heart.