Every man who has gone through National Service in Singapore has his own favourite story to tell. Usually, they’re hilarious tales of being ‘tekan’ (disciplined) by their army sergeant. Mine was the room inspection.
It may sound unreasonable now but, back in the day (there I go again), the officer would suddenly show up in our room of 16 men in bunks without warning or appointment. The accompanying sergeant would shout “ROOM!”, the recruits would jump to attention and the officer and the sergeant would then inspect the room.
To the new recruits who had yet to appreciate the discipline, the gruelling drill looked more like an excuse for torture. The inspectors ran their fingers in the most obscure areas like the underside of the table or the top of the cabinet. In a room of Ah Boys who were not yet men, full compliance was hard to come by.
What followed was anything from 50 push-ups to having to carry the metal cabinet down from the 4th floor bunk to the parade square and up to the bunk again! One may wonder what cleanliness has do with a soldier’s preparation for battles.
First the natural, then the spiritual.
Pastor Yang recently spoke about spiritual house-cleaning, emphasising the need to rid our lives, minds, and homes of the accursed things that might have been accumulated over time. We’ve been heartened by the many testimonies of God revealing things to those who had forgotten them or hadn’t realised they were an offence to God.
I read of testimonies of church members getting rid of their Lord of the Rings Lego set with the Dark Gate and old pendants or artwork whose provenance is suspect. They testified of the peace and rest that came after the cleansing.
Having rid our lives and homes of those, we now need to be vigilant about new contaminants being introduced from external sources. We must be extra vigilant as we move from being holed up during the Circuit Breaker into Phase 2 of re-opening.
I want to suggest a mindset examination. Put the Holy Spirit in the role of the army commander, you as the soldier, and your house/body/mind as the bunk.
Mindset examination question #1: Who sets the standard of cleanliness in your bunk? Is it you, your spouse, or the Holy Spirit? By whose standards are you measuring your life? Who decides what’s clean and what’s not, what’s acceptable and unacceptable?
Mindset examination question #2: In relation to your house (either the physical home or your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit), how do you view the role of the Holy Spirit? Is He the resident commander or merely a passing visitor? Is he owner or guest?
Your conduct and decisions will be very different depending on how you view the Holy Spirit’s status. If He’s the owner and commander, He sets the standards for you. If you view Him as a guest or visitor, you expect Him to put up with your standards. You expect a guest to leave at some time and you expect the visitor to know his place and not tell you what to do. Do you seriously want His visitation or habitation?
When Jesus described the unseen realities in the act of deliverance in Matt 12:45, He referred to the delivered person as a room swept and put in order. It has been cleaned, but what it mustn’t be is stay empty. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to take up residence and empower us to live a victorious life. There’s much truth in a saying that goes ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’.
As we clean up and get ourselves right before God, we may wonder how long we can stay clean because of the effort required. And is it practical to live a life as holy as the one Jesus called for in 1 Peter 1:16? (Or consider Matt 5:48, “Be perfect just as your father in heaven is perfect.”). Will the world, our friends, or even family accept us being so holy? James admonished us, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?” (James 4:4-5) The Spirit of Holiness jealously longs to dwell in us as He continues to pour out more grace upon us (James 4:6) to clean and stay clean.
The church is pressing in for another Pentecost, a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a greater glory of the latter house as promised in Haggai 2:9. The great glory and Upper Room encounters of Acts 2 are clearly going to mark God’s Church in the days ahead, but it’d be preceded by a deep cleansing, purification, repentance, and judgment.
Jeremiah Johnson had an encounter with an angel of cleansing where the Lord spoke to him: “There’s a boom that’s coming again to the Upper Room, but first there must be a sweeping of the broom in My house once again.”
With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we now have a chance to finish the work Jesus entrusted us. Jesus said in John 14:12 that He has an expectation for us to be doing the works that He did, and for us to do greater works than He did in His time. For our generation, Jesus may be referring to the upcoming billion souls harvest, but it can only be possible as we co-labour with the Commander-in-Chief. So, stay motivated in keeping yourselves clean. Let’s be vigilant in maintaining the good personal hygiene and spiritual disciplines that we’ve built up.