Who is Going to Clean the Church?

Who is Going to Clean the Church?

Since we have divided the ministry responsibilities of the church, I was asked recently “Who is responsible for cleaning the church.” Is it the Building and Grounds Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, the Preacher, or Everyone? Well, we haven’t decided that, for the building gets cleaned without any assignment. Isn’t that wonderful?

However, there is something more important to consider: the Church is us. We are the Church even if we did not have this building.

Ephesians 2:19-22 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

While this building may be relatively clean, we don’t have to look very long in this Church, this body of believers, to see dirt. It is called sin. Sin is very obvious to us when we see it in other people. Oh, we know we have a little dirt, but at least we are not as dirty as so-and-so, we subconsciously think.

Sometimes Al and I are asked, “what are you elders going to do about so-and-so’s sin?” It is a legitimate question and sometimes discipline is needed. However, have we asked the right person to do something about the dirt we see? Who is responsible for cleaning the Church?

1 Cor 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

The church will not be clean until the rubbish is taken out our life! We need to ask Jesus Christ to cleanse us and then pray that He will cleanse our brother and sister, too. After all, Jesus is very zealous about cleaning His Church.

John 2:13-17 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

This episode of Jesus driving people out of the temple shows that Jesus refuses to put up with sin in God’s temple. How dare us use God’s temple, our bodies, for something He does not intend.

Without the Holy Spirit in us, it is impossible to make our conduct and character match our Lord’s. But a Christian, by definition, should be filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore, should produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is God’s character. A Christian is without excuse, for a Christian is promised forgiveness and the Holy Spirit if he asks for them.

God takes this very seriously. It grieves Him to the point of anger for us to wear His Name but not act like Him in our daily lives. So, does our conduct match our name? We say were Christians. The sign outside says Christian Church. If we don’t take our name very seriously, and get rid of sin and get filled with the Holy Spirit, we better change our name!

To the church in Laodicea Jesus said, Rev 3:15-16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Wearing the name of Christ is an honor and a privilege. It is a big responsibility as well. Can people see a result of our claiming the name of Christ? Are we producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, such as patience with those around us? Are we producing humility? How about honesty? What about love, peace, and joy? If we wear the Name, the conduct needs to match.

We often focus on the wrath that Jesus had towards those in the temple who were cheating in God’s Name. However, Jesus was not just passionate against those who were at fault. He was passionate for the House of God. It says, “The zeal for Your house will consume Me.”

Jesus was consumed with seeing God receive honor and glory in the place that He was dwelling, which at that time was the temple. Today, God dwells in our hearts and in our lives, and Jesus is still consumed with a zeal for making God’s house as clean and God-honoring as possible.

This touches one of the great paradoxes of our Christian faith. Throughout this Gospel of John, we see plainly how anyone can come to Christ, no matter what his background, no matter how far he has gone wrong, no matter how evil he has been -- murderers, prostitutes, swindlers, liars, perverts, drunkards, self-righteous prigs, bitter, hard-hearted cynics, religious hypocrites, proud self-sufficient snobs -- anyone who realizes there is something wrong in his life, that something has seized him, gripped him, and introduced evil, hurt, pain, and heartache into his life, anyone who wants to be free can come to Jesus.

Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Anyone can come. But if you come, be assured that Jesus is not going to leave you the way you are. He is going to clean His Church.

Many Christians make their outward actions look good, but allow sinful habits -- pornography, a bitter, unforgiving spirit towards another, an evil lustful habit, a private indulgence, a deception -- to be hidden in their lives. God gives us opportunities to repent, but we have ignored Him. As surely as we do that, one day we will discover that our Lord has changed His attitude towards us. He is no longer tolerant, understanding, and patient. Since we have not repented, He takes a harsher approach to cleanse His Church -- all the evil we thought was hidden is exposed, and we suffer the consequences.

1 Cor 3:16-17 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. )

We need to understand that the God to whom we have come, that loving, healing Lord with the warm, accepting, and understanding eyes, who gives us forgiveness, is nevertheless, unwilling to put up with the continuance of sin. He will cleanse His temple whether we like it or not. Hebrews tells us that if the Father loves us, He will chasten us out of His love, until we begin to be what He designed us to be. Some get upset at God for this. We feel He ought to settle for what we think is holy enough, but He does not. He has in mind a temple where He can be glorified, and that requires cleansing. He will bring that cleansing about because He loves us and is zealous about His house.

Jesus deals only with realities. He sees through the facades and the illusions, deeper than we ourselves can see. He refuses to compromise or put up with it. Therefore, Jesus exposes the sin, brings it to the light, so we can see what God sees when He looks at our temple.

This is what we need to remember. We are dealing with a God of reality, a God who cannot be fooled, a God who will always deal in loving forgiveness with anyone who does not defend his sin. When we confess it, when we come asking to be cleansed, and freed, He never turns us away, He never deals with us harshly. But when we come justifying our actions, excusing our sin, fooling ourselves, we find Jesus refusing to commit Himself to us. We may even invite His wrath.

In this account at the temple, we learn some wonderful things about God. We learn that although He is a God of mercy, He is also a God of majesty. Although we feel His acceptance and love, we also feel the thrust of His justice and His majesty and His authority, too.

So, how does Jesus clean the Church? First and foremost, He uses His Blood.

Heb 9:11-12 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

The reason Jesus’ blood has the power to remove sin and clean the Church is because it is God’s Blood. That fact is important because Jesus is God and all our sins are committed against God. The Blood of God can cleanse away our sins, and every sin we might commit, because it is God that we offend. The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us because He has the right to forgive us.

Heb 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Secondly, Jesus uses His Word to keep His Church clean.

Psalm 119:9-16 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

We are surrounded by a sea of iniquity. Everywhere we look we are tempted to drift toward impurity. How do we stay clean in a filthy environment? We cannot do this on our own, but must have counsel and strength more powerful than the tempting influences around us.

So, where can we find that strength and wisdom? It is found by reading and studying God's Word and doing what it says. For the blessed work of sanctification is wrought in our heart by the Spirit of God through His Word. When we delight ourselves in God's Word, we hide it in our heart, meditate upon it, share it with others, and live by it. A person who internalizes God's Word will rejoice in the blessings that living by God's Word brings about in his life.

We must be very careful that our life is following God’s directions. Even with the most accurate map, we can still lose our way if we don't follow it. The narrow way was never followed by chance; neither did any inattentive person ever lead a holy life. We can sin without a thought; therefore, we must pay careful attention to what we have heard from God’s Word and love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength by obeying it.

Only if we absorb God's Word will His cleansing power pour in and then through us. Let each person, who desires to be holy, to have a clean heart, keep his eye attentive to the Holy Bible and be schooled by the Holy Spirit. If the Scriptures bring conviction, rejoice and repent!!, for that conviction is Jesus zealously working to cleanse His temple, His Church.

If we fail to respond to this conviction, we harden our heart, and we deceive ourselves. We may still call ourselves Christians, we may still go to church services, but unknowingly, we are far from the Lord. If we don’t wake up and repent, Jesus has a final method for cleaning His Church, separation.

Matt 25:31-34 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Matt 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Let us not be one of those who fails to respond to Jesus’ cleansing by His Blood, His Word, and His conviction. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and the anchor and hope of our soul, and get rid of every piece of rubbish and dirt that is in our lives.

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

It doesn’t matter how frail or unworthy we may feel as God’s temple. “We are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” That is talking about holding onto Jesus. And if you feel His conviction, if you hear His voice, you are still His temple that He is zealously cleaning.

It doesn’t matter how broken down or dilapidated we may feel as God’s dwelling place. He has declared, “You are my house. I dwell in you.” And the Holy Spirit is a fixer-upper. He is continually at work on the house. The devil can lie and accuse all he wants; we are still the Lord’s house, His dwelling place. Jesus is going to clean His Church, with His Blood and with His Word, for He is coming back to present to Himself a radiant, holy Bride, His Church.

Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Are you ready for His return? Will He find you radiant, without stain or wrinkle or other blemish? Will He find you clean, holy, and blameless? Now is the time to get ready!

2 Peter 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

The first effort we make is to come to the Cross, where Jesus shed His Blood for our cleansing of all sin. It is there that we give our life to Jesus, declaring Him Lord and Savior. It is there that we confess our sin and put our faith in Him and His work on the Cross to atone for our sin and grant us forgiveness. Then we follow Jesus in water baptism, where our old life is buried and where we rise unto a new life born of the Holy Spirit. If you have not made this first effort, we invite you to make it today. Until you do, you are not clean, you cannot carry His Name, and you are still under His wrath.

If you are a baptized believer, but you have gotten dirty from sin because you have disobeyed His Word, then begin to obey His Word again today by obeying this Scripture:

1 John 1:6-9 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 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.

Christian, let the Lord clean you—His Church—today. Confess your sins to Him today, repent, and seek Him with all your heart again. Tell the Holy Spirit you are sorry that you grieved Him and ask the Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit again.