One of the most unusual events in Jesus’ ministry is when He cleared the temple. Jesus is in a controlled anger doing what some men do in an uncontrolled rage. It is difficult for us to picture anyone overturning tables, scattering coins, and driving out animals with a whip and not think of them as wildly insane.
He cleared a large area without any assistance from His followers. This fact alone proves the event was a miracle. One Man amid frightened yet stubborn animals and even more frightened yet enraged men, was in such control, that He stood firm and they were scattered.
All His disciples could do was remember Psalm 69:9 and apply it to Jesus. I paraphrase it with this, “Zeal for His Father’s house will consume Him.”
I found zealous in the dictionary and to my delight discovered it has 12 synonyms and one antonym. This gave me an idea. I will use all these words within this blog and challenge you to find them. Here goes…
The church is to be a House of Prayer. We, whether alone or in congregation, are the meeting place for God on earth. Jesus taught us in this event that anything, which interferes with God manifesting Himself to His people, needs to be cleaned out and scattered.
Therefore, believers are commanded to be passionate about personal heart cleansing as we repent of our sin before His holiness. We are to be diligent about keeping ourselves from sin. This same command must also be applied to the church. But are we as eager to cleanse the church?
How is it that we have allowed the church which bears His name to tolerate blasphemy, mockery, and paganism within its midst? This should not be. Where are the devoted Christians that keep His house holy?
I am not against unbelievers steeped in sin coming into the House of God. If that were the case then I would be against evangelism. I, like Jesus, want none to perish. Yes, the lost will come in and bring their sin with them. But if the church is strong and the manifest presence of God evident, then these sinners will be convicted and transformed by His holiness. It should be very uncomfortable for a sinner to sit in church. There should always be an intense awareness of their sin and the agony it causes to their soul.
Jesus cleansed the temple of everything that interfered with the worship of His Father and the working of His Spirit from among His own people not the Gentiles. Pastors, elders, and lay people need to have this same obsessive heart. Never ask the question, “Is this good or bad?” That is biased upon ones own interpretation. We have to ask ourselves as His people, “Does it bring glory to my God?”
We need to become fanatical about everything done in our churches. We need to have a fervent focus on God and God alone. We need to ask ourselves some extreme questions.
- Do we perform weddings in our church of couples that are living in immorality without repentance?
- Do we allow gossip, slander, broken relationships, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness to reign among our members?
- Are we using curriculum that waters down the Word or even teaches falsehood? Are the messages centered upon the Word and do they direct people to a life of holiness in Him?
- Are we celebrating pagan holidays and cultural events of the world within our church?
- Do we allow people who show no fruit of true spiritual maturity and gifting to hold positions within the church just because they are willing?
- Have we allowed people to attend our worship when it is evident by the Spirit that their motivation is to disturb or destroy?
Maybe that is the problem, how long has it been since we heard the Spirit give warning concerning an evil within our midst? The Bible is clear that savage wolves will come into all our churches. (Acts 20:28-31) We must be discerning and vehement in protecting the church. We must have a keen ear to hear the Spirit.
Acts 5 gives the account of Ananias and Sapphira in the early church. But this is really the account of the Holy Spirit doing what He does best: exalting the name of the Lord to all the earth. Believers need to be as enthusiastic about His name. An apathetic church will soon be a dead church.
I have witnessed the Spirit move in our midst to protect His Name.
There had been a series of difficulties with a person. He left the church declaring he would never return. Yet he did. Months later he came in with a live-in girlfriend and another woman. Instantly the air of the church was in turmoil. One thing was being made clear, this was a mockery to the holiness of God. The Spirit spoke to our pastor and urged him to confront the man. As Peter did in Acts 5, so he questioned the man’s intent in front of the body. The trio stormed out. The holiness of God fell upon the church and even the children were in a holy hush. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. Acts 5:11
There are times when we need to face the evil head on and cleanse sin from our midst. We teach that we are to daily cleanse our own flesh from evil. But yet we allow vile and despicable blasphemy against His holiness to happen within His church. We have more fear of offending people than we do of offending our Holy God. This should not be.
The truth of God’s Word is that it is His holiness that attracts the lost one to Him. A watered down truth, corrupt body with weak believers will do nothing to advance the kingdom. An ardent passion to cleanse His church is just as much a miracle today, as it was when Jesus first cleansed the temple. Are you zealous as He is zealous?
These words are difficult. I challenged myself with each one. Oh, how I would love to see our churches consumed with zeal for His house to be the place where believers and unbelievers can experience the power of His Glory.
I also gave you a fun challenge today. Did you find the hidden words? Just for fun I added a bonus synonym. Please post the ones you found in a comment below. Thanks!