Fullness Of Christ (continued)
Did you note the word "filthiness"? God uses no soft, sentimental words when He talks about sin. He calls it what it is: "filthiness." Filthiness in "the holy place." How did so much uncleaness accumulate in the holy place that the king was compelled to order a special cleansing of the Temple? Note, also, that they did not begin cleansing at the outer court of the Temple and stop there, but "they went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it." Note, too, that they did not merely "find" the uncleanness but the "brought it out", and they did not bring out only some of the uncleanness but "all the uncleanness that they found." It was a most thoroughgoing house cleaning. And how long did it take to do it? Exactly sixteen days. What a tremendous amount of filthiness to remove! But they persevered until it was done.
Now let us turn to the counterpart of this truth in the New Testament. We are struck by the similarity of the teaching even to the use of some of the same words.
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Co. 3:16-17).
"Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Co. 7:1).
"Ye are the temple of God" which "temple ... is holy." Therefore it must be cleansed from all filthiness, both of the flesh and of the spirit.
There may have been gross, vulgar, even sensuous sins in the life of the past. Perhaps we are rid of those grosser, fleshly sins, but what of those which still defile our innermost spirit? We used to lie. Now we would not tell a deliberate, out-and-out lie, but there is hypocrisy, deceit, double-dealing. Even in our Christian experience there is a profession of Christ which is not evidenced in our possession of Christ. Formerly we had a violent temper to which we gave way constantly. Now there is a large measure of control of outward bursts of temper. But what about that secret irritability and impatience in the spirit? Once we frankly and outspokenly hated someone and said so. Now that is sin to us, but is there still lurking in some dark corner of the heart the jealousy or resentment that caused the hate? We would not now openly quarrel with someone as we once did, but if we see somebody we do not like, we just cross to the other side of the street. And we think we are victorious, spiritual Christians not needing cleansing.
One time in China I went to a girls' school to take a series of meetings. One of the missionaries came to me and said, "Do not ask me to do any personal work among the girls during these meetings, for I will not do it." She went on to say, "I am going home on furlough and i am not coming back. I have already told my missionary and Chinese co-workers that I cannot return because of the condition of my health." Her health was breaking down, it is true. But the cause of the breakdown was not physical but spiritual. As she talked, I was studying her face. There was a line in her forehead that ought not to have been there. As we go on growing into spiritual maturity, there are some lines marking this growth of character that will be in our faces. But there are other lines that are the footprints of sin. And these two kinds of lines are distinguishable.
I began quote in verses on victory from the Bible. She could say every one of them by heart. I spoke of books on victory. She knew them all and had read many of them. The doctrine and phraseology of victory were very familiar to her but she did not have victory. You ask, "Did she have some great gross sin of the flesh that overwhelmed her?" Oh no, it was nothing but a little hurt that she had allowed to sink down into the depths of her heart four years previously and which she had nursed until it had robbed her of her peace of heart, her joy in Bible study and prayer, and her passion for lost souls. More than that, it had brought on her physical illness and was finally taking her home not to return to the mission field. A little hurt hidden away in a human heart doing damage like that! Is there anything of this kind deep down in your spirit? That dear missionary got rid of that hurt and has since been home on two furloughs and returned to China!
(continued with # 18)