The New Jerusalem “had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels…” (Revelation 21:12). This great city is perfectly square with each of the four walls having three gates, for a total of twelve. These gates are guarded by an angel at each one. These gates are constantly open allowing people to go in and out at will: “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.” (Revelation 21:24-26). So what’s going to be allowed to pass through the gates into the New Jerusalem will be the honor, praise, worship, and glory due to the Lord, brought by the saved people of many lands.
What’s not going to be allowed to pass through those gates into the Holy City are unholy things. Revelation 21:27 reveals this: “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Only righteous, saved, justified, people who were made Holy by the Blood of the Lamb will be granted access to the Heavenly City. But that is all. And I’m pretty confident in my theory that the angel at each gate is posted there for just that reason…to guard it.
Remember in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve had allowed sin to enter into the Garden of Eden, that God banished them from the Garden? God did not want the two defiled and unholy inhabitants going back to live in the perfect place God had prepared for them, for they had forfeited their right to live there. They would have to look toward the Savior and be made holy once again, to one day enjoy Heaven. But while they were on this earth, God placed an angel at the gate of Eden to prevent them from ever entering into that holy place again.
Now if you want a taste a Heaven in your home, you need to make your home a holy place and you must have the attitude God does with respect to keeping it holy. We have “gates” through which many things enter our homes…from family members, television, radio, movies, books, magazines, etc… Now, just like the gates of Heaven that are NEVER closed, these gates through which things enter into our homes are also NEVER closed. Because these gates are always open, this requires constant vigilance. And, as the head of the household, guess who is the appointed gatekeeper. Now we know that obedience brings blessing, and God’s blessing is what will give us small tastes of Heaven, so in 1st Peter 1:15-17, God commands us to be holy like He is holy, and that includes our families. If we can start guarding these gates in our home, and make our home a more holy place, the blessings will be unbelievable!
To make your home your own personal Heaven while on Earth, you must look at things the way God does. There are things in this life that we allow into our homes that God calls defiled, abominations, and dishonest. Do those things sound like anything that would make our homes better? I think not. I’m going to focus on only the things that God says defile holiness. To defile something means to make filthy, pollute, sully, mar, or spoil something that otherwise was good. The list I will work from is found in Mark 15:11-20, and they are, in part: Evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, blasphemous, covetousness, lasciviousness, an evil eye, pride, foolishness, and evil speech. Just this list alone could be a series in itself, but I will briefly touch on each of these as a way of introduction and urge you to study further.
Evil Thoughts: Proverbs 23:7 has the connotation of someone who is dishonest in his outward expression to people. He offers them food and drink, all the while he is hoping they don’t take too much, or worse yet, more than he’s comfortable giving up. These people feel secure in his generosity, but they are unwittingly being watched as to how much he feels they will take advantage of his generosity. Do you get resentful when much of your hard earned money goes to new clothes for the children, when you feel you’d like to use the money for some of the things you want…for example. That resentment, born out of that evil thought, will cause inward strife until it is projected outwardly, and then you will have outward strife. So keep out evil thoughts and replace them with the list that is found in Philippians 4:8…let those thoughts in.
Murders: Jesus warns us in His Sermon on the Mount that just being angry at someone without Biblical justification is the equivalent to murder. That sounds pretty harsh, but anger CAN drive a person to murder, but we can also be angry enough to assassinate someone’s character or reputation. Instead of letting anger into our hearts, and letting the devil himself into our homes (Ephesians 4:26-27), we should dispel anger and let forgiveness into our hearts and seek restoration with the one we are angry with (Matthew 5:21-24).
Adulteries: Matthew 5:27-28 tells us that just simply looking at another person of the opposite sex in a lustful sort of way is the equivalent to committing the physical act of adultery. So here we find that one of the gateways into each family member is through the eyes. That means magazines and magazine covers, movies, websites, etc…are all to be run through you, as the gatekeeper of your home. If we determine to banish these things from our homes, and not allow them back in, we can create an environment in our homes that fosters just the opposite of adultery. We can grow godly characteristics such as loyalty, faithfulness, and devotion, and those are wonderful things to allow into our homes.
Fornication: There is no longer any societal taboo against premarital sex, living together before marriage, and getting pregnant out of wedlock. There has been a social acceptance of these things through the desensitization of our moral senses through television sitcoms, music, Hollywood, books, and magazines. All of these media sources in some way promote fornication as opposed to waiting for marriage. If we purge our homes of these things, and not allow them back in, we can then begin to teach 1st Corinthians 6:18-7:2 as the correct alternative. This will also teach patience and longsuffering, which after all, are godly characteristic we need in the home.
Blasphemous: Exodus 20:7 forbids us from using the name of the Lord in vain. Using profane speech and cursing is certainly something that should be purged from our homes and never allowed to reenter ever again. But also, we should not speak sacrilegiously about God and sacred things. Ever hear someone yell, “Jesus Christ!” and you maybe in a joking manner reply, “Yes, what do you want?” That’s a way of being blasphemous and sacrilegious, instead of standing up for God when His name is used improperly. We need to allow into our homes speech and attitudes that are worshipful, consecrated, and sanctified, and those that give the Lord the proper eminence He deserves, and not lower His majesty by being trite with His holy name.
Covetousness: Again, in the Old Testament record, we find in Exodus 20:17 that we are not to covet anything that our neighbor possesses, from his wife all the way down to his livestock. Covetousness will lead us to be driven to pursue that thing we so badly want. It has the potential to become an all consuming pursuit. Oh how this so easily distracts us from things that are most important…like guarding your family’s gates. How often do you leave your “post” to work extra hours in order that you might be able to finance that car you wanted so you could out do your neighbor? So while you were working extra to keep up with the Joneses, your son is bullying someone on Facebook and your daughter got pregnant. If we can purge the sin of covetousness from our lives and learn to refuse, decline, and reject the desires of the flesh, guarding our families will become an important priority in our lives…and we’ll have time to do it!
Lasciviousness: These lascivious families know no boundaries regarding their sin. These are the families that will talk of their exploits to people at church on Sunday morning. These families are so heavily involved in their sins that they no longer have a concern for what others may think of them or their actions. These families are one step away from having their consciences seared to the point that they won’t even feel guilt about their sin. These families desperately need to allow into their homes attitudes ripe with yearnings to become chaste, virtuous, and moral once again. We all know families in some degree of this state, and just as others brought glory into Heaven, we should want to bring help into these families, if they’ll let us.
Evil Eye: An evil eye indicates the attitude you have toward others. Are your motives pure? For example…are you reading this right now thinking you’d like to have a more godly home and have peace in your family so that you can be better than some other family in the church so you can feel better about yourself while looking down on the other family? That’s evil, and your desires to get good things for your family are being done with the wrong motive. Worse yet, if you actually admit this to your children, they will grow up with the idea that it’s OK to do things with the wrong motives…like looking down on others who are less fortunate than you. Purge your heart of these things, and instead, begin teaching and acting upon such things as compassion for others, love for others, and concern for others. Make your family a better family to be able to be a testimony for others to better their families, by emulating after yours. Don’t better your family to look down on others, but rather make your families better to help other families become better.
Pride: James 4:6 reminds us that God resists the proud, but is more than willing to help the humbled spirit. This goes back to motive as well. Again, are we trying to better our families to lord it over others whose families are falling apart? I doubt you will get God’s help in making your family better for that reason. Are we trying to get a better family to get the accolades from others in the church? Check your motives, because only one motivating factor will work out for you in the end, and that’s to do it for the glory of God. If we tout around our home that “we” are doing a great job, and that implies “we” are doing it all and that displays a thankless attitude toward God. Therefore, what needs to go is our pride, and what needs to be let in is humility and that will lead to a spirit of thankfulness.
Foolishness: In Psalm 14:1 it states: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” This may not describe what you believe about the state of your family, but many families act as though there is no God and therefore do foolish things. God dwells within us, and among us in our homes, yet we watch things, read things, and listen to things that would appear to others that we don’t believe that to be true at all. As movies, sitcoms, magazines, and books come to the gate of our home, run it through this filter: would I watch it with Christ sitting beside me? If you answer “No” but let it in and watch it anyway, you are acting as if there is no God, and the Bible says that is foolish. Christ would not want to watch anything that would cause us to lust, or would glorify and promote fornication, drug abuse, alcohol consumption, homosexuality, etc…replace that foolish attitude with logical thinking and use wisdom to make the excellent choice about what gets into your home.
Evil Speech: In James 3, we find warnings against speaking evil of others. It should not be that our mouths are able to praise God one moment and then tear apart another person the next minute. This is being double minded, and that makes an unstable head of the home. Being double minded shows a weak character, and that makes for a weak leader. Being double minded isn’t too far away from being hypocritical, and that’s a leader who is intentionally sinful. So don’t praise God at church and then sit at the table for lunch with your children and begin saying all sorts of negative things about others in the church…namely the pastor. This is a poor thing to teach your children. Teach them restraint in talebearing, as Proverbs 11:13 suggests: “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” If I’m going to badmouth a pastor on only a hunch, that’s a dumb thing to do. But if I never speak of that hunch to anyone else, no one else will begin thinking those things, and maybe God will even reveal the facts behind my hunch. Teach your kids this…if you can’t say something nice (you know the rest) AND get the facts before you start spreading rumors…AND…ideally we should always be looking to boost others up before the brethren. Lift your pastor up before your family. Lift the church staff up in front of your family.
So there, I have given you several things that God says defile us (and our homes). These are all things that need to exit out of our homes through these open gates. These are defiling entities that should be turned away from entering into our homes through these gates. In each topic, I gave you ideas of what should be allowed into our homes to take the place of what is being purged or restricted from gaining access. God’s not letting any of these things into the gates of Heaven, so if we want God’s blessing and have a taste Heaven in our home, we must not allow any of these into the gates of our home. These gates will never be shut, so our guard can never be down.