“CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART” By Pastor YAU
1) Keeping the container clean: I was emptying the container of a paper shredder, following good advice in shredding personal documents. Since the container was so full, I couldn’t empty it without spilling strips of confetti all over the carpet in my home office. I grumbled about the stupid design of the shredder and the container. Couple of weeks later when the container was about half full, I decided to empty it before it got to overflow. I put a small trash bag over the container, flipped it upside down, not a bit of paper fell on the floor. Then I realized that the mess happened before was my error. I shouldn’t wait too long to clean the container.
2) Keeping the heart clean: When we allow sin and all filthy stuff to fill up our life, it too will overflow from our hearts to others. Jesus told us in Luke , “An evil man out of his evil stored in his heart, brings forth evil.” The text today commands us to empty our hearts of sin before it starts spilling over to others by our interaction with people. Jesus continued to say in the same verse, “For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.” In today’s words: “Garbage in, garbage out.”
SEE SOME UNCLEAN HEARTS: (Ephesians 4:17-32)
1) The hardened hearts: “They are darkened in their understand and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (4:18) A hardened heart is a darkened heart that is unable to see any light nor change the way that hardened heart directs life. This is about the heart to the person himself. This is the most serious condition of all the trash in any heart. Apostle Paul called these people “whose conscience have been seared with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2) People with hardened heart are not teachable. They have no capacity of learning, knowing or changing of their hearts or their behavior. They are dead in their conscience and have no hope of improvement or change.
2) The corrupted hearts: “You were taught with regard of your former way of life, to put of your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” (4:22) A corrupted heart is a tarnished heart, a rotten heart, a heart that was spoiled by filthy and deceitful desires of the fresh and of the evil world. People with corrupted hearts may look good and clean on the outside, but they are dirty, filthy and corrupted on the inside. Jesus told the scribes and the Pharisees like this, “You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)
3) The devilish hearts: “Do not give the devil a foothold.” (4:27) A devilish heart is a heart that allows the devil to take control, to build his tent and to reside in there. We may face the devil and its temptation here and there and may stumble once in a while, but to allow the devil to keep a foothold in our heart is not an option. When we allow the devil to take hold of our hearts, we are under its control to follow its scheme to sin against God.
4) The grieving hearts: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption.” (4:30)This is about allows our hearts to be the reason of grief of the Holy Spirit of God. When we allow our hearts to be filled with things that are causing God’ spirit to grieve, to feel sorry, to agonize, and to suffer pain, we are not truly children of God.
HOW TO KEEP HEARTS CLEAN?
1) Clean hearts created by God: “Create in me a clean hart, O God; and renew a spirit of righteousness within me.” (Psalm 51:10) No one has the power to make an unclean heart clean. It is created by the power of God. Some may disagree with this statement by pointing fingers to hearts that are much worse then theirs. They may claim efforts they put into keeping their hearts cleaner than others. Yet, let us not forget what God saw the hearts of men very early in human history. In Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Thousands of years later, Apostle Paul told us, “All have sinned, come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) All natural hearts are polluted by sinful nature of man. All hearts need to be recreated by God to be clean.
2) Clean hearts need a clean start: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Before we may have a clean heart from God we need to confess our sins and all the filthy thoughts, and ask God for forgiveness so we may start our Christian life anew each day. Confession is the first step to forgiveness and forgiveness of the first step to keep our hearts clean. “If we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:10)
3) Clean hearts need to be kept clean: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) King David knew he could not keep his heart clean at all times by himself. He pled God to search his heart and show him any offensive in it so he could seek God to help him keep his heart clean. Keeping our hearts clean is a continuous process by keeping ourselves close to God at all times. Daily devotional, prayer, reading God’s word, worship in His house, fellowship with godly Christians are some of the ways to help us keep hearts clean.
4) Clean hearts are very important: “Make every effort…to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Being holy is being clean in hearts and actions. Our God is a holy God and no one without being holy may approach him, much less see him. Many Christians wonder why they have little of no revelation from God, never hear anything from God, receive little or no blessing from God or don’t understand the will of God in their lives. These people need to double check their hearts and life to see if they are clean so they may see God and all of His benefits.
CLEAN HEARTS ARE NOT EMPTY HEARTS: (Eph. 4:17-32)
After we clean our hearts from the filthy junk, they are ready to be refilled with things that God desires for us to have. God instructed Paul to give us some suggestion of things we need to care, develop and grow into spiritual maturity as faithful servants of God:
1) Keep learning from Christ: “Surely you learned from him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” (4:21) When I was pastor of another church years back, one of the new believers disappeared after baptism. I called her to ask if there is anything stopping her from returning to church and I was surprised to hear this: “Come back to church, why? Hadn’t I graduated from the church? I got the certificate of graduation (the Certificate of Baptism). Right?” No one had ever graduated from the School of God. Baptism is like enrollment to start a Christian school. We are to learn and to grow in the truth of God’s word. We need to continue feeding our hearts and mind with God’s truth Jesus and the apostle had taught us. This is a process to grow our spiritual life and knowledge about God and Christian living. Never left your heart empty because an empty heart is receptive to all kinds of wrong things if there is no strong foundation of God’s word in there.
2) Keep renewing of our mind: “To be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (4:23-24) This is about efforts in building on the truth in our hearts---we need to renew our attitude and mindset toward true righteousness and holiness. In Christian life, Paul encouraged us “not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but to transform by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) Our mind is the control center of our life, words and deeds. When we keep cleaning out the bad from the old life and the world, we need to keep refilling good from God and His word, so, we will grow up right and strong.
3) Keep purifying our words: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (4:29) Before people can judge us on our hearts, they can certainly judge us on our words. So much have been said in the Bible about the impact of our words on others as well as on us. Words come out from our hearts through our mouth, reflect the nature of life on our inside.
4) Keep growing in compassion: “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (4:32) Kindness, compassion and forgiveness are quality Christian characters we all need to pursue. Tons of teaching and example in the Bible encourage us to treat each other with these important Christian qualities. When we are kind and com-passionate, we will be much better witnesses to the world.
1) Time to have a clean-up: Like drawers, chests, storage room and garage in our house, if you let the junk pile up, soon we will live in a trashy place. If you don’t care what are in our hearts and neglect efforts to clean up, we may have accumulated much junk in it that we don’t have room for the Lord. Ever now and then, we need to have a quiet time sitting before God, looking on the inside to see what we have allowed to clutter our hearts.
2) Time to have a fill-up: Don’t let your heart stay empty to attract unwanted junk again. Follow the advice of Paul to fill up your heart with godly treasures. Grow your life with the word of God, grow it in kindness and compassion and purify your words every time you open your mouth to God or others. Whatever is in your heart will come out in your words and deeds.