“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased” (Mat. 21:12-15).
Hygiene is personal cleanness and cleansing. Sanitation, the cleanness of the environment and community, is related to public health and demands that homes or places of human habitation and activities be kept clean and healthy. Spiritual life needs constant and consistent clean up. For a healthy spiritual life, the environment for its nurture must equally be clean. This the Lord demonstrated in our text. The Assemblies of God Nigeria rightly reflected this by declaring 2018 a year of “Spiritual Sanitation.” Spiritual sanitation is taught in different ways in the Bible.
SPIRITUAL SANITATION WAS RECOGNIZED AS PREREQUISITE FOR A CLOSER AND LIVING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (GEN. 35:1-7).
God’s destination for Jacob was Bethel wherein was Peniel, not just Canaan, (v. 1), the place God had appeared to him in a night vision while running from his brother to Padanaram (vv. 1, 7,9). In this Bethel there was a ladder connecting heaven and earth for Jacob; and between Jacob himself and God. There he first encountered God, received a life-changing promises and covenant of God and the first angelic ministration. He had declared of this place: “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not… How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” He had built his first altar unto God in Bethel and made his first vow to God and promised to sacrifice unto Him (Gen. 28:10-22).
God told Jacob to arise and go up to dwell in Bethel. Jacob saw the need for spiritual sanitation which included his family. His message was without ambiguity: “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went” (Gen 35:2-3).This Bethel, a type of the Church, required spiritual sanitation – spiritual clean up to be there. Many believers don’t remember their Bethel and how God appeared to them there.
It’s strange that a man of God like Jacob had a strange god in his household. A god is anything or deity you worship, adore, obey and that controls you. It is anything taking the place of God in your life or activities. Strange god in the household of a man of God!!! What’s yours? Notice the level of immorality, perversion and impurity among God’s people, in the household of God. The love of God that ought to be in the heart of God’s people has been terribly perverted. Valentine and many other love festivals rather turn to deleteriousness, decadence and ruin to the faith. The people of God celebrate this perversion more than they do the love of God that took Christ to the Cross. Often, the uncleanness of the hearts of worshippers of God is such that God won’t behold or touch much less living in them.
THE LORD HIMSELF ENGAGED IN SPIRITUAL SANITATION (MAT. 21:12-15)
It’s heartwarming that the Lord has not lost interest in His Temple, the Church. Thus He goes into it. Metaphorically, the Bible teaches Personal Temple representing faithful individual believer; Congregational Temple – the Church; and Christendom/Christianity, a Temple. Often the happenings in the temple of God is regrettable. The Lord debarred and overthrew the commerce supplanting spirituality in the Temple of God, (v. 12). He overturned their “table” being an official office/profession; “seat” being an official institution and normal practice or operation. Commercialization and profiteering over spirituality is a terrible drift and decadence that have eroded the Church. These include dangerous sacrifice, alter money, prophet offering misuse of seed faith and first fruits, etc. The current condition now appears as if preachers preach for money/pay/reward. It is no longer “Freely you have received, freely give” (Mat. 10:8).
The opposition and antagonism of supposed spiritual leaders against the Lord’s move to sanitize the Temple and restore spirituality indicates that unspiritual leaders won’t ever stop fighting against spirituality and spiritual people today just because spirituality jeopardizes their godless interests? They politic over spirituality to get the position they want; they form ungodly alliance to eliminate supposed rivals or threat; and for selfishness and insecurity of position, they envy the praise: “hosanna” to the Lord by loyal and faithful folk, (vv. 14, 15).
The Bible also teaches that every strange plant be uprooted to effect spiritual sanitation, (Mat. 15:13, 14). They are evil plant that destroy others; they are agents the enemy to infiltrate the fold. They must be uprooted now. O God sanitize your Church! May the people of God cooperate with Him to purge the Church of everything that offends. May the Holy Ghost repeat the operation He did in the past when He literally physically purged the Church by revealing and exposing sinners and the evil one during worship session.
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