“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:1-2
Let me start off by saying, I do not hold any theological degrees or any special training. What I offer here on this blog is what the Lord teaches me through personal study, prayer and living out those truths. Apart from Jesus Christ, I can do nothing (John 15:5). Therefore, this “Practical Theology” is just that, very practical living out of the Scriptures very imperfectly.
It’s funny how seemingly mundane activities can produce some deep theological truths, and they can when your life is offered up as a living sacrifice to the Lord. When we lean in close to Jesus, that is abiding in Him everyday, He will show you things – great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3).
Cleaning out my closet became just such an example for me. Are you wondering how cleaning out my closet illustrates the power of the Holy Spirit? Good because I’m about to tell you.
It all began when I purchased a Christmas present for myself. Don’t judge, you know you do this too! The present was a book by Joanna Gaines, “Homebody.” As in the Joanna style, this book is beautiful in its layout as well as its purpose. As I opened the thick, trendy-styled pages of this book, I took Joanna’s advice. Start with one area of your home at a time to create an overall simplified theme that communicates your personal style and story.
My story would begin with the front “foyer” area of my home. I live in a modestly small house that was built by my late father-in-law and my husband’s uncle in the early 70’s. There are many positives to this home, and some negatives. One of the negatives is when you open our front door into our home you are met with a closet door. Not a very inviting or welcoming space according to Joanna.
This was my starting point. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I decided that we would transform this closet into a ship lapped, organizational, functional mini mudroom-ish type space. Here we would create a bench seating area with hooks to hang jackets, etc., with extra storage. My creative side was cheering me on!
Before “demo day” could begin, I had the fun task of purging the contents of this closet. I began pulling out coats, lots and lots of coats and sweaters. Then came baskets I had shoved inside containing old DVD movies and video games, along with some video gaming equipment. I discovered an old school video camera, a box filled with old photos, another box filled with every card my husband and I had received from our wedding day, plus my wedding dress and wedding veil from 29 years ago!! Not to mention the board games, mismatched shoes and loads of dust. Obvious to me that I have a problem with hoarding.
Another “project” was taking place, however, revealing the deep inner places of my soul. It was time to deal with sin, wrong thinking patterns, and deep seated hurts from my past that was not allowing my life to be super functional for the glory of God.
I’m a stuffer, as evidenced by my closet, but I also stuff other things, things you can’t see, and things that had been preventing me from living a life from victory given to me by Christ on the cross, and being fully surrendered to God’s good, acceptable and perfect will.
God began revealing a sanctification project, and it was “demo day.” God’s word says that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Your “homebody” houses the Holy Spirit (if you are a believer in Christ surrendered to His Lordship, Romans 10:9-10) but also your soul; your mind (thoughts), will, emotions and conscience. The Holy Spirit comes in and begins His “renovation” project. He gives new life, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are not just a better version of yourself, you are a completely new person from the inside out. The Holy Spirit begins the transforming, sanctifying work of making you more and more Christlike.
This so important, so please listen up: It is not God’s purpose for your life for you to be a better person. His purpose for you is to be like Jesus Christ, bearing His image in this world. You cannot do this. Only the Holy Spirit can. You cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps and be good enough. The world doesn’t need you. The world needs Jesus Christ in you.
Stop trying and start surrendering.
I had to clean out some junk. The Holy Spirit revealed wrong thinking patterns, so in obedience to His word I took every thought captive and made it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Lies of the enemy were exposed, sins were identified with confession and repentance.
I had an identity crisis. I needed reminding of who I am in Christ. I needed reminding of who God is. We get so busy and wrapped up in the circumstances of our lives that we take our eyes off Jesus. I needed to rediscover the love of my life, Jesus Christ.
I had resentment and bitterness from old hurts. I had to choose to forgive some people and myself. I had to see where I had blamed God wrongly and ask for forgiveness.
It’s hard work. It’s painful. But it is freedom! “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36).
Surrender all of your stuff to God. Surrender your marriage, your children, your work relationships, your job, your thoughts and attitudes, your anxiety, depression and fear. Put it all at the throne of God. God is for you!
You need community, so stop hiding.
I cannot stress this enough. I did not go through this process alone. I had help with a trusted mentor and friend. Submitting myself to accountability allowed true healing to take place.
I get easily overwhelmed with big projects, and so it helps to have someone give you guidance, such as Joanna Gaines, to break it down into small manageable tasks. That is what another person can do. They can help break it down, and pray through it with you. Again, this is not in any other person’s power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Not to mention that you are also involved in spiritual warfare whether you realize it or not. You have an enemy and he will use your sin and weaknesses of your flesh against you to beat you down and keep you walking in defeat. Don’t let him do this. If you are walking a defeated life, instead of the victorious, abundant life Christ died to give you, then it is because you have given Satan authority to do it. It is time to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
I am a work in progress and so are you.
Until we get to our heavenly home, we are still in need of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. We are still dragging around this body of death (Romans 7:24). This is a daily surrendering, trusting God “and I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6).
It also requires obedience. We have a part to play in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and this is simply obedience.
Let me close with this:
“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”2 Peter 1:3
It’s Demo Day!