Anyone who has lived in the North has experienced the long cold grey of winter. Your home becomes the warm cocoon sheltering you from the harshness of the outside elements that seem to last forever. Then one day it happens — spring. The warmth of the sunshine parts the grey skies, birds sing, and life returns to the trees and flower gardens. It is the rebirth of a new world. The blue of the sky, green of the grass and bright yellow of the sun all speak of new life, hope, and beginnings. It is with this renewed mental outlook that people come out of their home caves of hibernation to re-engage life in the outside world. A common ritual of this season is spring-cleaning. People open up, clean out and beautify the inside and outside of their earthly dwelling place.
In the same manner and with similar results many people need a spring-cleaning of their soul. When properly executed, it will produce similar emotional and spiritual results. This cleansing will deliver a person from the grey, cold bareness of their emotional and spiritual winter that they may have been frozen in for years.
The dirty self-image and conscience
The harshness of a person’s winter season of life can leave his or her soul cluttered with guilt, regret and a low self-image. For example, victims of sexual abuse often describe themselves as being, “defiled, dirty, unclean or damaged goods.” Guilt and the regrets from past wrongs and mistakes torment others. They will say things like, “I just wish I could forget my past and start over.” It is a lot easier to spring clean a house than clean out the regrets of the soul. It is this soul damage that affects the mind, emotions and level of life function of a person. A person’s relationships, job, school and emotional and spiritual health will be impacted by how he thinks and feels about himself.
We tend to function in a manner consistent with how we see ourselves. A person with a negative, unclean self-image will not live anywhere close to God’s design for him as a being created in the image of God. He will live far below his life potential and not experience God’s purpose, significance and joy. This leads to boredom, anger, discontent and depression just to name a few of the problems a person will encounter. What is the remedy? How can a person spring-clean his soul?
God’s cleansing agent
The Bible has a lot to say about cleansing. The Old Testament is full of ceremonial washings and cleanings. In Leviticus 11 God talks about clean and unclean foods and animals. When any of these unclean things came in contact with skin, vessels, or clothes, the items would have to be thrown away or washed with water. Leviticus 12-15 teaches about the laws of purification for childbirth, leprosy, a home contaminated by leprosy, discharges from the human body and items that came in contact with these discharges. The whole system of cleaning for sin was based upon the shed blood of the sacrificial animal covering the person’s or the nation’s sin.
Let’s think about this for a minute. How can ordinary water or the blood of animals cleanse our sin or remove guilt from our soul? How can these things cause a person to see and feel about himself in a new light? Hebrews 10 in the New Testament tells us these ceremonial washings and animals sacrificing their blood do not really have the power to put away our guilt or cleanse us from sin in God’s eyes. If they did, rather than continually being offered once would have sufficed. Rather these were not the real offering but pictures of the real cleansing agent to come — Christ. God would prepare a body for his son to dwell in among us on the earth. In this body he would fulfill the requirements of God’s law and live a sinless life. He would become the perfect sacrifice to offer himself on the cross once to put away sin forever. This is the reason on the cross Christ could say, “It is finished.” He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world not just another a lamb.
Cleanse the inside first
In Jesus’ day the problem was the Pharisees put the emphasis on cleansing the outside of things (see Matthew 23.25-28). However, cleansing the outside of plates, people or tombs didn’t change the dirt and death on the inside. It didn’t touch the soul, change the person’s view of self or deliver from guilt. Christ was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament pictures of cleansing. No matter what your past the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. Once you have washed at God’s cleansing fountain he sees you as perfect as his Son. Now believe and enjoy the new you.
Dr. John Hawkins, along with his son, John Jr., runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.