This morning I went for an 8.8km walk. I went through financially lower middle class, middle class and upper middle class areas. The reason I mention this is because these are people who will be paying rates and taxes and other amenities.
Many of the pavements are cemented, though most are broken and damaged through the weather, tree stumps and neglect. At times, the weeds covered the pavement to the point where the pavement could not be seen and the growth was as high as my shoulder. In certain places, the pavement grass had been cut by the municipality but the cuttings were left behind. In places it looked as though bags of garbage had been dumped with the rubble scattered over the walkways, grass and roads. Then, due to the rains, where the paving is badly damaged it is nothing but mud, the drainage manholes overflow, causing a stench.
I enjoyed my walk, the scenery was great, the people passing by were friendly … yet the condition of the pavements and roads was shocking. I’m sure people would ask, “What do we pay rates and taxes for?” I am certain what I have explained could be said of many areas, not just the ones I walked through.
Consider the excessive growth, pavements virtually closed, garbage and other litter all over the place, overflowing drains, stench … and people living there are paying their taxes. Do you know what happens? Yes, people complain and complain and eventually, because nothing is done … they live with this mess!
Spiritually, we can be like that. Although the rains have been plentiful, grass and especially weeds don’t grow shoulder high in a week. This takes many weeks and even months. Damaged pavements don’t happen overnight … these happen over months and years. This is true with spiritual rubble (sin). It is not accumulated overnight or because of one day being an off day. It takes months and years to accumulate, creating a garbage dump in which the soul must live and exist.
This is very important, because many people think that their recent sins or sins from the immediate past are the worst in influencing the soul … but the reality is that when Christians neglect the small litter (“small sins”) over a lengthy period of time, the accumulation creates a huge, invisible pile of garbage (sin) which in turn prohibits freedom of spiritual movement because that person needs to live within the mud and mire. This is where prayers are not heard, where morals become questionable and behaviour at best is borderline.
It is one thing for us Christians to remind ourselves that the Blood of Jesus cleanses us of all sin … but there also needs to be repentance. Repentance means a complete break with those sins (and all sin). I cannot say I’m walking in holiness when I still have a relationship–and in some cases a long-term relationship–with certain sins.
Too often, Christians want to keep their options open when it comes to living a holy life (morally clean life before God). They want to dabble in past dirt (sin) when the occasion arises and then put it away after they have enjoyed the sin … until the next time. That is living in sin, and that causes the accumulation of sin that causes our pathway to become saturated with sinful obstacles preventing living in the Spirit and feeding the sinful nature.
Before Paul writes under inspiration about what the acts of the sinful nature are, he writes:
Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
See that? The sinful nature desires everything that is contrary to the Holy Spirit … it desires sin … and that means conflict for the believer, because the believer, when living by the Spirit, rejects sin (unholiness, godlessness, evil) and pursues what the Holy Spirit offers … and that is holiness! Now my friend, we progress in time as Paul writes in Romans … towards “final salvation”, saying it “is nearer now than when we first believed”. It’s not so much the imminent return of the Lord Jesus but the closeness of our coming death that is the issue here. He writes:
Ro 13:11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
The slumber he speaks of is lethargic Christianity–Christianity laced with sin! The spiritual slumber is putting up with all the spiritual garbage that pollutes the soul and restricts the soul from intimacy with Jesus coupled to practical holiness. There is such urgency that he says the night is almost over … that rays of light are starting to break into the darkness and soon full daylight will be evident. Although not an exhausted list of sin, but an idea of what happens during the darkness is highlighted in verse 13. Don’t live in the dark, in the spiritual garbage … rather, “put on the armor of light.” He explains “armor of light” in verse 14 … “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” … that is, behave as Jesus would behave! He dressed Himself with obedience to every requirement of God, so that when He was tempted He could say:
Mt 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
O God, forgive me for piling up spiritual garbage which offends You and please help me to systematically get rid of all the petty sins that pile up causing my soul such trauma and agony. I so want to be holy as is Jesus. Amen.