I have a difficult time throwing anything away.
I still have all my classroom notes from four years in college, four
years in seminary, and four more years in law school. They are absolutely
no good to me now. I havent looked at them in years but
they sit undisturbed in a file in my study.
Im comfortable with the familiar. I havent traded for an
automobile in years. I like the ones we have. They still run. Why go
to the bother and expense of getting a new one? An old suit is just
as good as a new one. Yesteryears tie still looks good, and who
would ever think of changing eyeglass frames?
When I was a child I remember that my father often reflected on his
experience of driving down unpaved roads in western Pennsylvania with
a Model A (or was it a "T"?). The dirt roads often became
rutted due to rain. One of Dads favorite lines came from a sign
posted at the beginning of one road, "Choose your rut well. You
will be in it the next 20 miles!"
So, in the humor of God, I who am often rutted myself and settled
into the ordinariness of routine and habit offer this counsel
appropriate to the spring season: get rid of the old, and welcome the
Fortunately, theres an excellent word from no less than the apostle
Paul on this very subject an admonition we do well to heed. "Get
rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast
as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast
of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of
sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:7,8, NIV).
I got a practical taste of what Paul was talking about when I spent
the Passover season last year in Jerusalem.
In all my previous 20-some visits to Israel, I had never been present
for the Passover season and I had enthusiastically told our tour group
about all the good bread among other things that we were
going to eat.
About the second day there, all the good bread disappeared, replaced
by matzo crackers. Even the spaghetti was made from potatoes rather
than flour (and tasted accordingly). We quickly learned that all Israeli
hotels, in keeping kosher law, observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread
in the days leading up to Passover. The admonition of the apostle Paul,
based on the teaching of Exodus 12:14,15 and Leviticus 23:4-6, teaches
us to do spiritually every day what Israelis do physically each year
in the seven days leading up to Passover.
All leaven is to be removed.
Leaven, or yeast, is dough that has been kept over from a previous baking
and, in the keeping, has become fermented. Every observant Israeli home
and hotel diligently searches out the presence of any leaven and removes
it from the premises.
The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians and us to get "leaven"
out of our own lives the stuff that ferments and changes the
nature of whatever it becomes kneaded within.
But, there is a striking difference between Pauls counsel and
the actual observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The sequence
of events is reversed.
Paul tells us, "Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed."
Removal of leaven for the Christian comes after not before
the Passover lamb. In other words, salvation does not depend on our
own good efforts to remove the junk of sin out of our lives it
depends wholly on the saving death of Jesus Christ received by faith.
He is the One who cleanses us from sin in the sight of God. Ours is
the discipline to actively engage in removing from our lives what is
displeasing to God not as a condition of our salvation, but as
a response of thanksgiving and obedience to His work of redemption and
regeneration in our lives.
As believers, we must take an active posture to clean up our own lives.
The things we are to throw out vary from passage to passage in the New
We must toss out malice and wickedness (1 Corinthians 5:8); the old
self corrupted by its deceitful desires, falsehood, anger, theft,
unwholesome talk, the grieving of the Holy Spirit, bitterness, rage,
slander, every form of evil, unforgiveness (Ephesians 4:22-31); moral
filth and a loose tongue (James 1:19-27). Quite a list. And the New
Testament has many more the above is just a sampling.
The same passages just cited speak also of what we are to put on: sincerity,
truth, work, generosity to the needy, encouraging speech, kindness and
compassion, forgiveness, Spirit-filled living, and looking after widows
Cleaning house involves a decision to do so.
What changes do you need to make? What habits, life-style decisions
and attitudes have become a part of you that are not a part of Christ?
You will never begin to grow into the imitation of Jesus unless you
make a decision to head that direction.
I know a nominal believer. Hes made an absolute mess of his life
and his home. He has a foul temper, treats his wife worse than most
people treat their dog, blames his lack of proper conduct on the dysfunctional
home he grew up in, and ranges from depression to escapist behaviors.
He refuses to make a decision to change. I believe if he would go just
once sincerely to church, respond to the altar call, and remain at the
altar until he had thoroughly repented and received the assurance of
salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit that he would have taken
the most giant step possible for a spiritual inside housecleaning. It
would result in a winsome and attractive life; reconciled to God, to
himself, to his wife and his family. He would be a joy to be around.
But, he wont make the decision to change.
How about you? If you dont think any changes need to be made
in your life, how about asking someone close to you? Maybe your spouse,
best friend, anyone who will be honest with you. Just ask humbly, "Would
you be honest with me and tell me what changes I need to make in my
Change is not automatic.
Several years ago a newspaper in northern California reported this true
story of a newly retired couple who had cashed in their stocks and bonds
to purchase one of the most expensive motor homes available on the market.
One of its fine features was cruise control, a novel device to them
at the time.
As they traveled up the West Coast, the husband became tired and asked
his wife to drive while he went to the back to take a nap. As she drove,
she put the camper on cruise control and it worked perfectly. After
an hour of straight highway driving she got up to go to the bathroom.
Her mistake was in thinking that cruise control was synonymous with
automatic pilot. At least thats what she told the highway patrol
after the accident. Fortunately, neither the wife nor her husband was
hurt but the motor home was totaled.
You can never put your life on spiritual cruise control because you
cannot drive the highway of life on automatic. You must make decisions!
This year it may be far more important for you to do spring cleaning
on your life rather than on your house or property. The risen Christ
is available to help you. Hear the promise of Gods Word: "Therefore,
if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the
new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).