On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” Mark 11:15-17
It is challenging enough to think that Jesus was zealous for the integrity of the temple, and we need to be the same way with the church. I could choose to write a great blog on this.
But what is on my heart is a deeper application.
Because today, WE are the temple.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? I Cor 6:19
And thus we see the zeal of Jesus as a call to fight for the integrity of the inner temple — our hearts, where the Holy Spirit resides.
Whatever we allow in our hearts, we allow into the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We talked about this verse last week in our house church: “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? ‘” Acts 5:3
Simply by the act of lying, Ananias lied to the Spirit, because the Spirit was inside of him.
The Spirit experiences our sin. This is so convicting! If I am grumpy or angry, I am imposing this on the Spirit. It’s like taking the Spirit and forcing Him to dwell with a repulsive unsavory character.
I mean, look at this passage —
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Bad attitudes towards others grieve the Spirit. And why wouldn’t this be true? God is love. These attitudes are the antithesis of love! And we expose the Spirit to our unloving attitudes all the time.
So I’ve been speaking generally, but I want to confess that this idea has been kicking MY booty. I’ve realized how much bad attitudes dominate my inner self.
I’ve tried many times to get rid of it, but I have at times self hatred. It seems not so bad, because I’m not hating anyone else, or even God.
But when I realize that the Spirit has to live in the midst of this, I see how bad it is.
I’ve also been resentful a lot lately. Again, it doesn’t seem like something outside of normal struggles. Until I think of how my resentment is crowding out what the Spirit is and what He wants to do inside of me.
Because the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These things should be multiplying inside of me. The Spirit’s trying to make my inner self a wonderful, ever expanding oasis of God’s goodness.
Instead, like the thorny soil, I choke out goodness with worry and grumpiness.
Really, upon deep reflection, I’m appalled to realize that I’m actually a spoiled child who keeps stomping her foot because she’s not getting her way. So much of the time, if I’m honest, I have this strong uneasy feeling that things are going wrong, that they should go differently. In my pride I feel there’s a better way for them to go.
And I realize that my self hatred and resentment stem from this feeling that things aren’t what I think they should be. It’s really just a temper tantrum. No wonder the Spirit gets grieved. He’s trying to do what’s best for me, best for those around me, and instead I rage against Him.
If I am the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, I’m making the Spirit live with a whiny surly teenager! I’ve been a parent and I know that’s miserable! If I’m going to be like Jesus, and clear the temple of impurity, the grumpy arrogant teen has to move out!
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? . . . What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? James 4:4-5
Jesus was zealous for the whole space of the temple to be dedicated to God, not crowded with those who sought worldly gain. In the same way, the Spirit is zealous for the whole space of our heart, and jealous when we let anything else crowd Him out.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col 3:15
The awesome thing I am finding is when I respect and cherish the Spirit within me, when I stave off the bad attitudes and let Christ’s peace rule, I can feel the Spirit swelling within me. It’s like the Spirit can finally act! There’s a bounty I’ve only begun to discover and experience!
Let’s listen to the Spirit and NOT SELF! Let’s drive out the worry, the resentment, the insecurity, the anger, and so on, and make God’s house — our hearts — a place of prayer. He has so many blessings He wants to lavish on us, if we’ll clear the way.
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. . . .
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. . . .
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere Ps 84