Health departments are serious about people washing their hands. It is not uncommon for Sharon and I to be away from home speaking at churches and sharing with Missouri Baptists. Every place we go, the facilities are marked with signs that encourage washing hands. Washing our hands is good hygiene.
As followers of Christ, we also need to experience the washing of our hearts. Life is filled with plenty of moral distractions and intellectual traps that lure us away from a pure heart.
Even when someone is fully engaged in the key disciplines for a growing spiritual life, we need cleansing daily. The psalmist said, “Search me O God and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24.
We must learn early in our Christian walk that if we are to live Holy Spirit filled lives, there must be times of cleansing or we discover the sadness of powerlessness.
Cleansing takes time because we are all prone to deny or minimize our own sins. How often have we prayed, “Lord, whatever is wrong in my life please show me.” Then we endure about a 10 second pause and then move on to verbalizing our list of requests. It would be better if we prayed, “Lord, how shallow I am. Please forgive me.” Then we spent time confessing our wayward attitudes and hardness of heart.
Greg Frizzell says it this way, “Mark this well! The depth and power of your prayer life will never be greater than the depth of your daily confession and cleansing.”
The old processes of the flesh are still with us and will be until we leave these earth suits. That’s why it is important that once we experience the cleansing of the Spirit, we endeavor to stay clean. If we don’t, it won’t take long before our shields are down and the enemy entices us to believe the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil.
That’s why we need to build some key practices in our lives to keep us true to our confession and our walk with God. Will keeping these keys make us right with God. Only through repentance and faith in the complete work of the Lord Jesus Christ do we find the sufficiency to be restored in our relationship with our God. But to keep our fellowship with Him vibrant, stay true.
Sharon and I have been recipients of great teaching through the years. I got a list like this from someone but I cannot remember who. But I learned that these seven keys are helpful to stay pure of heart and to avoid even the appearance of the old ways of the flesh:
1. Act like who you are in Christ. Remember you are not your own, you were bought with a price and that was the precious blood of Jesus. This means that we surrender our rights to Him and His ways. Everything we know about walking with Him is revealed in the Word of God. If the Scriptures speak directly about something, that settles it. If we are unclear, then we ask for wisdom.
This is central to every other key practice. We often indulge ourselves in wickedness because we convince ourselves we have a right to it. You could name a whole list of despicable behaviors. When a believer practices those, it means he/she is acting on their own rights instead of a life of full surrender to Lord Jesus.
2. Never be alone with temptation. If a believer spends enough time alone with temptation, the enemy can have a field day with your thoughts. That’s the danger of computers with you or your family members. Build accountability with one another. According to God’s design, it is not good for man (or woman) to be alone.
3. Be honest–no one is above temptation. The dumbest thing about the old flesh is the thinking that we can overcome things with our best efforts. Americans have a way of celebrating self-reliance. Reality is that self-reliance can easily become the trap of the enemy.
4. Remember the devil’s trophies–your friends who morally failed. One report of someone’s moral failure is too many. Seems that every month my heart is broken when I hear of some ministry friend who has lost his witness due to impropriety. The landscape for too many families is littered with broken relationships.
5. Take your spiritual pulse each hour. Many people are wearing FitBits these days to monitor their physical health. Wouldn’t it be something if we had a tracking device that monitored our hungering and thirsting for God? Pause and take a breath and whisper to the Lord, “Am I revealing Your glory with my words and attitudes?”
6. Thou shalt not touch – avoid casual touching of the opposite sex. Even casual touching can create unfulfilled expectations. We must learn to respect one another and their families.
7. Guard the window of your mind by focusing your eyes on the eyes of others. The eyes are to portals to the soul. If you look closely you can see hurt, bitterness, genuine joy and even a tear for someone they love.
Treat every moment as a witness for Christ, an opportunity to reveal His glory by practicing His presence. This is so simple and it keeps a believer from the subtleness of temptation.
Hope to see you at FURNACE, the state evangelism conference February 5-6, at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield.