I consider myself to be a pretty clean person. My home may have some spots of clutter and a few cobwebs here and there, and there’s always a tornado to pick up after the grandkids visit. But the trash is always bagged and taken out, and there aren’t piles of old food under the beds or out on the counters.
So I was pretty disgusted when various sounds, smells and evidence began to appear around our house that all pointed to one thing: rodents! UGH. I happen to be pretty woodsy and laid back; I can deal with frogs and bugs and spiders even the good snakes. Rodents are just all kinds of NOPE. I’m a brave bug killer, but even the thought of a rodent makes me nauseated. They violate my peace.
I had my pest control company come out and do something they call an exclusion service. They find and seal absolutely every single place where a rodent could gain entry into my house at any point. On cracks no wider than a nickel, gaps between the gutter and roof line, and any holes that were gnawed or torn open, metal flashing or tight metal screens are installed to prevent all critter traffic in or out. This essentially corrals the intruders that are inside the house where an assortment of gnarly traps are set to catch and kill. Then the pest control workers tend to the traps weekly until every critter is gone.
As I’ve been watching and experiencing this disgusting process, I’ve been struck with the spiritual truths that are so very similar to what is happening in my home. The enemy of my soul, along with his army of intruding demonic critters, is no doubt on a constant hunt to find the littlest crack in my temple to gain access, make a mess, violate my peace and cause damage. The cracks and the holes and the gaps are all like areas in our lives where we’ve been negligent or careless about keeping ourselves secured. How easy it is for that to happen!
Perhaps for a season we were alert and cautious about the things of the world we allowed in such as our music and television and entertainment choices. It mattered to us whether or not we were allowing things that weren’t clean or wholesome. But after that nostalgic reunion event over the summer we re-invited some of the old vulgar stuff back in. It’s no big deal, right? It’s just music and a few prime TV shows.
Perhaps for a season we couldn’t fathom a day without reading and meditating upon scripture, feeling regularly a hunger that only the word of God could satisfy. But after the flu hit everyone in the house and then the new school schedules began, the time spent in scripture became somewhat of a luxurious occasional reward instead of a daily necessity. It’s no big deal, right? It’s stuff we’ve read before.
Perhaps for a season we intentionally surrounded ourselves with spirit-filled hungry believers who chased after God and challenged us to do the same. These relationships made us better people and they drove us to participate in God-honoring events and activities. But after reconnecting with old friends at that wedding reception over the holidays, we found ourselves drawn back to the partying lifestyle at seedy places where God is clearly unwelcome. It’s no big deal, right? It’s just a few drinks, maybe a smoke, maybe a Sunday morning hangover. It’s nothing I can’t handle.
Irritation where we once chose grace. Resentment where we once chose forgiveness. Complaining where we once chose to speak life. Little white lies where we once chose truth. No big deal, right?
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.
"If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Genesis 4:7.
In his book Deep Wounds, Deep Healing, Dr. Charles Kraft refers to demonic strongholds as rats who are attracted to garbage. Even though I don’t have a basement full of trash, rodents can find a way to make a meal of all kinds of things. (And who knew that the decorative Flint “Indian” corn stored in the fall decorations box would be such a feast for mice!) The same is true in my soul.
I have to choose what I allow into my temple, and I have to examine it regularly for any weak spots, intruders, or uninvited guests.
I cannot choose to boil with angry judgment and unforgiveness when a paid contractor or customer service representative mistreats me. The enemy loves it when I let the sun go down on my anger, because it’s a crack that gives him access to me (Eph. 4:26-27). I cannot choose to moan and groan and complain about my lazy coworkers or corrupt politicians or my obnoxious sister-in-law or even my own ailments. The enemy loves it when I complain, because it’s in opposition to the word of God (Phil. 4:8). I cannot choose to partake and engage in the pleasures and attitudes of the world which lead to ungodly decisions and wordly appetites. The enemy loves it when I behave as the world does, because it opens the door for me to partner with sin (Rom. 13:13-14). I cannot choose to let my Bible sit untouched for days on end. The enemy loves it when I don’t engage in scripture daily because I become weak and ill-equipped to stand against attack (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Does this mean I live in a sterile Christian bubble and judge the world from my cocoon? Absolutely not. Jesus ate and drank with publicans and sinners and prostitutes. He loved them and brought kingdom into their lives. He did not celebrate their sin; he freed them from it, and he was unspotted because he kept himself pure. Jesus had no unsealed places in his temple (John 14:30).
2 Cor. 13:5a “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!”
Psalm 26:2 “Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.”
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
Have you carefully examined your temple lately?