by Gloria Furman
As you were growing up your mom may have encouraged you to clean your room saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
You also may have learned the axiom that literal, physical cleanliness—like dust-free baseboards and mildew-less grout—are not credits to your personal holiness. It’s possible for one to clean her house so perfectly that guests could eat off the floor, though she is a desperately depraved housewife who is far from God.
It is soul-liberating news that unsoiled bathroom floors are not a requirement for fellowship with a holy God. Yet in a very real sense, spiritual cleanliness is godliness. I began to appreciate aspects of that particular kind of cleanliness when reflecting on the testimonies of believers in Christ who had been previously influenced or possessed by unclean spirits. Dead in their trespasses and submitted to the wills of unclean spirits, these men and women behaved in accordance with the unclean, ungodly character of the spirit that occupied their “house.”
These men and women testify to the lordship of Christ over every power as he “cleaned house” and sent the Spirit of truth to indwell them forever. Indeed, whether we have a similar testimony or not, all those who are not in the flesh but in the Spirit ought to praise the Father and the Son for sending the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit can never be served an eviction notice. Not ever. Contrary to unclean spirits, the Holy Spirit’s fruits are godly: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). That’s why Christians are instructed to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16), and not to “grieve” (Eph. 4:29) or “quench” (1 Thess. 5:19) the Spirit. We’re reminded of God’s comprehensive, unmitigated ownership over us; he doesn’t merely pay rent. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). What a thrill and a wonder it is to have been given God’s Spirit! And what an assurance and Assurer he is of God’s love as he occupies our hearts.
In his book Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, John Owen said this of the Spirit’s dwelling in our hearts, and the consequential yearning for holiness that he produces in us:
“Among those who walk with God, there is no greater motive and incentive unto universal holiness, and the preserving of their hearts and spirits in all purity and cleanness than this: That the blessed Spirit, who has undertaken to dwell in them, is continually considering what they give entertainment in their hearts unto, and rejoices when his temple is kept undefiled.”
The Spirit is repulsed by something that is more despicable than filth and more deadly than rogue germs; he hates sin.
Cleansed by the blood of the Son and enabled by the Spirit who desires to please the Father in everything, we can make war against our sin and put to death the deeds of the flesh.
Similar to how our resolve to keep a clean house comes and goes, our desire to fight our sin is fickle. When you sense your willpower for sin-fighting to be waning, let your heart be bolstered by the never-diminishing commitment of Jesus Christ to complete the good work he started in you. Sealed by God as God’s forever, praise God for his inscrutable wisdom to give you the Spirit of holiness as a guarantee of his future grace (2 Cor. 1:22).
And marvel at the fact that all of this… including the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit… has given by God so that you might enjoy him forever.
- The Mortification of This Mother’s Sin by Priya Samuel
- Struggling with “Struggling With” Sin by Beverly Chao Berrus
- On Fighting Worldliness and Fruit Flies by Melissa McDonald
- On Killing Your Sin – a Desiring God video featuring JI Packer
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria Furman (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three kiddos plus another on the way. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013) and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms (Crossway 2014).