Jesus looks beyond our outward appearance to the part he really cares about.
Jesus said empty religion, lived in one’s own moral power, it’s not enough.
When you come to Christ for cleansing, the Holy Spirit enables you to live a life pleasing to God.
h, it’s finally spring! According to Lord Tennyson, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” For some women, their thoughts heavily turn to spring cleaning and flowing Honey-do lists.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to clean the house just one time and have it remain clean forever? Don’t get excited; I don’t have such a solution. I do, however, have a solution to a problem that is far more important, and that will last forever.
A clean, uncluttered house is a pleasure to live in. When the junk is gone, there is a light feeling, a feeling of renewal. It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it for the relief that follows.
There is an analogy in the spiritual world. We scrub and shampoo and shave and shear our bodies to look good on the outside, where people see us. But what about the inside, where God sees us?
Scribes and Pharisees were religious leaders in Jesus’ day. People honored and admired them for their outward show of spirituality and good works. And they loved it. Jesus revealed the truth behind their appearance: “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matthew 23:5). Not so impressive.
Jesus looked beyond their outward appearance to the part he really cared about:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28).
Jesus was essentially saying, “Boys, clean up your act! ‘For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
After spring cleaning, one doesn’t leave a room empty; there are chairs, tools, or appliances in the room. An empty room invites even more clutter in the future. Jesus compared empty religion to an empty house. Although someone may put away sinful practices, emptying the house of junk, they may still be nothing more than an empty house. What did Jesus say about that?
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first” (Matthew 12:43-45).
Jesus said empty religion, lived in one’s own moral power, it’s not enough. It’s too easy to fall back into sin — even worse than before. The house must have the proper tenant. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9). When you come to Christ for cleansing, the Holy Spirit comes in to live and enables you to live a life pleasing to God. It requires no work on your part, and is such a relief.
Ready for a once-and-done inner cleaning? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).