Cleaning Out My Closet and the Power of the Holy Spirit

“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!

Obedience is Simple, But Not Easy

“God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”

Rick Warren

We are creatures of comfort. Case in point, right now as I am writing this, I’m sitting on my couch in my nice warm robe, with my cup of coffee, wrapped up in my soft throw blanket, and sitting in front of the toasty fireplace on a cold day. I am rocking comfort like a boss. Don’t hate me. But sitting on my right is my Bible study book I am currently working through, “Discerning the Voice of God,” by Priscilla Shirer, and it has me thinking about obedience.

I don’t know what mental images or feelings the word “obedience” conjures up for you, but for me it’s not comfort or warmth or easy. In the dictionary obedience means “compliance with an order, request or law, or submission to another’s authority.”

Let’s put this definition in real life. Obedience is required on the job, driving in our cars obeying the speed limit, or a child going in their room to clean up their mess like their parent asked them to do (praise hands for all the parents out there!) Obedience is not always comfortable, in fact, sometimes it is downright challenging. Obedience is not easy, but it is simple. Jesus puts it this way, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15).

Priscilla Shirer brought up this point: “God speaks to be obeyed.” Conveniently in God’s sovereignty, He has me walking through something where He is expecting me to be obedient. Coincidence? I think not. Here is my chance to walk out what God is teaching me.

Obeying Like Abraham

The Old Testament has real life people, imperfect people like us, who get it right and also fall on their faces. Our ultimate example of unfailing, perfect obedience is Jesus, of course, but Abraham has something to teach us as well.

In Genesis chapter 12, God gives Abraham a command, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” (vs. 1-3).

Right off the bat, God commands Abraham to leave his comfortable life, the town he grew up in, all he has ever known, to go to a foreign land God will show him. God also promises a blessing (side note: we are recipients of this blessing). What does Abraham do? “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him,” (Genesis 12:4a). Simple obedience.

Fast forward to Genesis 22:2, Abraham is given another command, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” How does Abraham respond? “Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him,” (Genesis 22:3). This is not easy obedience, but Abraham makes it simple.

Now we might be tempted to look at Abraham and think he obeyed flawlessly in every circumstance. There are many chapters in between 12 and 22 where Abraham and his wife took matters into their own hands, and suffered some consequences.

We are the same way. What gets us into trouble, is that we have our own agendas or we can’t wait on God to work His perfect will in His perfect timing. Make no mistake God is always at work; He is sanctifying us, and molding us into the image of Jesus. God works all things together for good, our greater good, and His greater glory.

So what is the key to Abraham’s obedience that we can take into our everyday lives? I believe the key is that Abraham had faith in who God is, in God’s character. Abraham trusted, and he loved God with all his heart, soul and mind. He knew down in the depths of his soul that even when God asked him to do something that sounded crazy and even contrary to all that God had promised, if God said it, then it was trustworthy. The book of Hebrews adds insight into Abraham’s thought process, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back,” (11:19, emphasis mine).

This is how we walk out our relationship with God. It will require obedience simply because He is God and we are not. This brings us to the motivation of obedience. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(John 14:21).

It is a love relationship. Notice how many times in this Scripture that Jesus says the word “love.” God so loved us that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, taking our place and our punishment. We respond by surrendering our lives, loving Him by obeying Him. As we obey Him, Jesus will reveal Himself to us.

Who do you know God to be? If you’re not sure, look at Abraham. Did God not fulfill His covenant? Look to the cross of Christ. Yes, God did fulfill His covenant, and He will accomplish His purposes in your life too.

Yes, it is hard to obey especially when God is calling us to obey Him in the midst of the unknown. Like Abraham, we walk through this life learning to trust God in the small things and in the big things. We may not do it flawlessly, but with each time we obey in victory, we gain new strength for the next time. And when we see God’s faithfulness to us over and over again, even in our failures, we grow to love Him more. Let’s pray for that ever growing love, and let that love move us out of our comfort, self-sufficiency, rebellion or fear, and into the refuge of God alone through faith in His Son and by the power of His Holy Spirit. Let’s walk with simple obedience. Why? So that we can bring God glory by being like His Son. Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.

“God speaks to be obeyed.”

Priscilla Shirer