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Clean Up Your Act - A Devotion

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James 4:7-10 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Humility and resistance are two very different stances. Humility is the act of lowliness, meekness, and submission which clearly contradicts the stand we are to take against the devil. To resistance with is opposition and defiance. In order to come close to God, we must learn to remain humble in His Presence while producing a strong front in our war against sin even the inner battle of our flesh. How do we become successful in this endeavor? Wash your hands. Purify your hearts is the directive given. But isn’t His Grace enough and sufficient in our call to Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. Of course, it is. However, the problem is our flesh likes religion more than a relationship with Jesus Christ unknowingly striving for some power over sin which has already been accomplished by Him. We would rather be right than to repent. Repentance requires that thing called humility that makes us struggle so much. Divided loyalty between God and this world is spiritual adultery. Because we do not know the Love of God – we sell bits and pieces of our life to the enemy for immediate gratification and acceptance by temporary lovers that bring us comfort in the dark. This is not the life that the Lord promised us but we are not living the life we have been given. It’s time to clean up our act and let the Lord lift us up out of the mess that we are making.

Revelation 22:13-15 (NLT)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. (Hebrews 13:8) If the Lord does not change, then change is required of us. If He will not move, then we must be moved. In Revelation it says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes.” The Tree of Life is promised to such people. But outside the city are the dogs which includes every manner of sinner one might consider and “all who love to live a lie.” The Lord grabbed my attention with this last statement as there is a warning in His Words. “I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10) There are certain things that I do representative of my marriage to my husband. For example, I do not go to lunch unaccompanied with male coworkers not even my boss who is friends with my husband and I. I do not speak with male students without another present. I do not allow other men to hug me from the front only side hugs. You may think this is extreme and that’s fine but my husband and I have a sound marriage based on this respect. If we were at a public event maybe a wedding and I became cold, I would seek out the jacket of my husband rather than accepting it from another man. He would be my covering. For those who do not understand the covenant of marriage, this all may seem like nonsense. I live in a natural and spiritual relationship with my husband that I choose to respect. I have the freedom to exhibit for power and authority over my life yet choose to surrender such things in humility to my husband which is that “dreaded” word called submission. With a staggering statistic of divorce that the world is experiencing, one might pay attention to the thriving marriages that remain. I challenge you to do so because in each case you will find submission to be a key contributor to each success. We must spiritually submit to the Lord each day claiming the robe of righteousness that He has given us as a bride accepts the covering and gifts of her betrothed. This is difficult when everything within us fights to rebel against such an endeavor. Those who learn to submit their life to Jesus Christ will experience the fullness of joy in such a relationship. They will live in the Presence of God rather than outside the gate. The question that we must ask ourselves is simple, “Am I living a lie?”

Matthew 23:25-27 (NLT)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.”

Religion focuses on the outside of the “cup” called our life. We choose the contents of our life and nothing is left to random fate. By faith, we have the opportunity to enter a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. The word “relationship” implies intimacy but few ever leave the world to step into such righteousness. When considering the cost of submission, it is found to be too high. Jesus told the religious community of the day, “You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence!” He goes on to call them blind. I understand this concept because many times I find that I fall into the trap of religion finding it more comfortable than a relationship. I would rather try to do all the right things rather than allow the Lord to work righteousness from the inside out of me. Who wants such pressure? Who longs to endure trials and tests? When my husband and I first got married, it was a war zone. Not literally, but emotionally as we each struggled to have our own way. It was a difficult challenge for me. Changing from role of single mother of three and head of the household to submissive wife came at a high price. I did not want to trust my husband in fear of failure. I did not want to relinquish control to someone who did not know what they were doing in my mind. However, the more that I gave my life to Jesus Christ the more I found submission to my husband to be a blessing. As he grows in his relationship with Jesus Christ, the more that he respects my offering of my life to him. This is the type of relationship that Jesus Christ wants with each of us today. However, it requires that we clean up our act. Not as religion tells us do by changing what we say and how we act, but rather by allowing Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to change our heart.

John 9:6-11 (NLT)
Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing! His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”

I have to admit that this story grosses me out sometimes. Jesus spit in the dirt, made some mud and rubbed in this man’s face. That’s disgusting even if it was the Lord. He then told the man to “go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam”. So the man went and did what Jesus told him to do and came back with his sight. Religion tried to explain away the miracle as this is not the same man. But it was the same person who was blind but now could see. What would have happened if Jesus did the same thing but the man refused to go or what if the man didn’t let the Lord rub the “spitty mud” in his face? This story would have been different. Naaman struggled with pride in his situation. Covered in leprosy, he desired to be healed. But when Elisha sent his word but did not come to meet the man at the door, Naaman was deeply offended. His attendants had to encourage him to do what the man of God said even though his pride was telling him not to. What happened? He was healed and made whole. (2 Kings 5:9-14) What is keeping you from experiencing an intimate relationship with the Lord today? He wants to wash it out of your life. Your sins have not only been forgiven but washed away in His Blood. But that is not the end of the cleansing process as His Word washes through our life.

Ephesians 5:25-27 (NLT)
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.

My husband and I have been married for fifteen years. That’s a long time. We communicate every single day. I have learned what makes him happy and how to encourage peace in our household as he has for me. There are certain phrases that get my attention as indicators of something that he desires when he does not just say what he wants. For instance, if he walks into the house and the kids have left junk from one of the kitchen to the other (on a very frequent basis), he will begin to ask “where does this go” knowing full well that it all belongs to the kids hoping that they will respond and pick up their mess. He is a wise man who picks and chooses his battles. He chooses encouragement and resorts to discipline only when absolutely necessary. My husband is to love me as Christ loved the church. He is my covering in this life according to the covenant that we have entered. It is his responsibility to make sure that my life is glorious yet he is only a man. When that “man” is filled with the Holy Spirit and lives in the Power of God each day, he is able to love me as Christ loved the church and lay his life down for me knowing His Hope is in the Lord. As he strives to please Christ, he learns to love and honor those around him. If he says that he loves us but continues to treat us harshly then we will not respond to his love any longer knowing that it is a lie. Truth be told, my husband would love to live in a neat and orderly house with nothing out of place. However, he knows and understands the weakness of his family (including myself) to always maintain such an environment so he offers us grace and mercy. As the head of the home, he could demand it but his great love does not. But we try to keep things neat and tidy to honor him in his home. If only we could learn to humble our lives to the Lord and submit to the washing of His Word, we would no longer have distant relationships with a stranger but develop intimacy that creates a long lasting and enduring relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He could demand many things of us in exchange for His Love and Protection but He doesn’t. He accepts what we are willing to give. We are to give up our life and live in holiness and cleanliness. Not as my husband would like, but as the Lord requires of those who are passionate for His Presence. It is not about what you do but who you are on the inside and what you become as such love, grace and mercy works its way out.

John 13:6-9 (NLT)
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

Repentance is an everyday occurrence for those who desire a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. The religious people out there don’t want anyone to know that they sin. WE know! When Jesus came to wash the feet of Peter, pride told the disciple not to let the Lord wash his feet. He said, “You will never ever wash my feet!” You know what your mama said about never?! Jesus told him unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me. The Word of God is a wellspring for our life. There was a washbasin in the Tabernacle for the priests to wash their hands on the way into the Holy of Holies. You and I are called priests thanks to Jesus Christ. We must learn that repentance is humility before the Lord that accepts His Grace and Mercy each day as our covering promoting an inward change that will transform our existence. It solidifies our relationship to God and access into His Presence. When was the last time you washed in the water of His Word? When was the last time you cried tears of repentance before the Lord? Psalm 51 gives us a clear picture of repentance and humility before the Lord that leads to faith, hope and trust that changes us from the inside out. There is joy found in salvation but only by those who commit their life to building a strong relationship with the Lover of their soul, Jesus Christ. You must live intimately in a deep and abiding relationship with Him to be successful in cleaning up your act. Jesus washed away our sins, cleansed us of guilt to be filled with His Spirit. (Titus 3:4-6) He did it all now the rest is up to you. Rather than cleaning up your act on the outside, why not let the Spirit of God change you from the inside out? No longer will you be a whitewashed tomb filled with sin, you can become a utensil worthy of His Service. Religion changes everything to suit our purpose but living in a right relationship with the Lord beginning with humble repentance and daily washing in the Word will change everything in our life to fulfill God’s Purpose. What is His Plan? It is a good one with a future and hope just for you. You don’t have to do a thing just let the Lord clean you up from the inside out and fill you with His Word which empowers our spirit to win the battle for our flesh. We become convinced. Such conviction provides a firm and fertile foundation for our faith to turn to confident hope which allows us to harvest all of His Fruit in our life! Christ’s Blood makes us clean and His Grace washes over us daily giving us access to the Lord enabling us to live in His Presence where we find all that we need to clean up our act!

2 Timothy 2:20-22 (NLT)
In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

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