There’s a TV show here in the UK called ‘Nick Knowles big house clearance.’ The basic premise of the show is that the guy Nick goes to the homes of families who have let clutter overtake their houses. They are the sort of houses that you can hardly get into—stuff falls out of the cupboards when they are opened and there are piles shoved into every crevice of space. Sometimes this means that even light can’t even get in because the windows are blocked up with boxes.
Nick gives the family a deal—they have to get rid of at least 50% of their belongings and his DIY team will go in and give the house a makeover. His team pack up every last bit of stuff they have and then they lay it all out room by room on a warehouse floor. Every time, without fail, the family say, “How did all this stuff fit into our house? I knew we had a lot of stuff but didn’t realise it was this bad.”
Often it is a much harder task for the family to depart with dearly beloved things than they think. They go through a real battle to ditch a sizable chunk of their stuff, but they all make it. Generally, there is one who is more-keen than the other and they have to encourage and, at times, be brutal with the reluctant party to get them to actually get rid of their stuff. In most cases, the state of their home has an effect on their mental health as well. They know they need to do something about it, but the size of the task is overwhelming, and they don’t know where to begin. So, they don’t even try to attempt it. Once they have done this, they get to go back to a brand new, clutter free home and everyone is loving it.
This show got me thinking about the Christian and sin. If we think of our bodies as houses, how much clutter or sin do we try and shove into every available bit of space? If we opened the ‘cupboards’ within us, would loads of things come tumbling out? Are we holding onto to certain sins because they are dearly beloved, and we would be bereft without them? As believers, we are not immune to sin, hopefully you are aware of this fact. However, we do have a responsibility to say no to sin and yes to godliness.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.Titus 2:11–12
There are times though when we just feel overwhelmed by the task, don’t we? Like the families in the show. We know we can’t stay in certain patterns of behaviour, but we feel helpless and even crippled to actually do anything about it. And so, the sinful patterns remain, and they get worse over time. We require outside help to clean us up from the inside out. We need someone to be brutally honest and clear out the clutter of sin that we have become all too comfortable with.
Thankfully, God has not left us to fight this battle alone. He knows our weaknesses and so has given us his Holy Spirit. He is the one that enables us to fight temptations and sin. He is the one who convicts us of those deep-seated sins that we are oblivious to. So, we do not have to fight alone.
God has also given us the church and fellow believers, who teach and challenge us. Along with the Holy Spirit, other believers are used by God to point out the sins that we are blinded to. Do you have people in your life that love you enough to have those tough conversations? Are you being honest with those around you about your struggles? Or do you think that you can remain as you are? Are you allowing the light of the gospel to expose the dark areas of your life?
To fight sin, we must believe the gospel and rely on the Spirit to help us grow in maturity. What will flow out of us will be Christlike words and behaviours, rather than sinful and worldly thoughts and actions. This takes time and effort. It isn’t a quick fix over a few days. However, the impact will be long lasting. I sometimes think it would be good if the show revisited the homes five years on to see if they are still clutter free or if the family have slipped back into old habits. With the Holy Spirit working in us, the effects will be long lasting. How do we know this? Because the work is not based on what we can do as individuals, it is based on His work.
Philippians 1:6 says: “being confident of this, that he who began a work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
While we are still here on earth, our lives will never be totally free from the clutter of sin. But we do have hope that God will give us the strength to fight it on a daily basis. Just as the families in the show need outside help, so do we. Our help isn’t Nick Knowles and a few handy men though. Our help is the Holy Spirit, the church and fellow believers.
If you want to look at this topic further, there is a great book called The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard.