Most often, if given the choice between something that is old, dirty, and worn out and something that is brand new, clean, and perfect, we would opt for the thing that is new. Even your old broken-in baseball glove eventually wears out so much that you are forced to buy a new one just to be able to play the game. No matter how much you like the old item, there’s something about getting the same item new that brings with it a certain amount of joy, excitement, pride, etc. Revelation 21:1,5 say this: “And I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth: for the first Heaven and the first Earth were passed away; and there was no more sea…And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
There is a future promise from God to John on the Island of Patmos. God will create a new Heaven and a new Earth. This old, dirty, sinful, and vile world will one day pass away. God also makes us that promise in 2nd Peter 3:10-13. Psalm 102:25-26 puts it this way: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.” They shall be changed to something new. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).
That sounds exciting! A new Heaven and a new Earth. A place where there is no more sin, death, decay, ailments, or anything that we could ever find displeasure in. Now that is certainly something to look forward to. That is certainly an element of Heaven we should be excited about having in our homes. You might wonder if such a state can be achieved…well…yes it can, but only to a certain extent because on this side of the new Heaven and new Earth, we live in an imperfect world, so we won’t achieve the perfection that God will. But there is a way to get old, dirty, and vile elements out of your home and replace them with new, clean, and holy things. The secret to creating a new life for your family out of the old life is to take the principle of creating a new Heaven and a new Earth, and bringing it down to a very personal level.
Second Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” If we are saved, then in the sight of God, we are righteous (Romans 5:19; Colossians 1:22, 28). We are made new immediately at the time of salvation. Our old sin-ridden, vile, and offensive souls were covered in Christ’s blood, and we can now stand clean before God (Ephesians 1:4). But that’s being changed on the inside. Just as we spoke of earlier in this series, we must match the outside with the inside in order to reflect what God has done in us. Without doing that, there is no way we can enjoy the heavenly blessings of having our homes recreated to something better than they are currently.
Here’s where it starts for the moms, dads, and children who want to have the blessing of creating a new home while destroying the old way. In 1st Corinthians 3:6, Paul explains that it’s God that gives the increase. It’s God, in the end that is ultimately responsible for bringing about change (salvation in that verse). But we cannot sit back passively and expect God to bring about the change in our families on His own because that same verse says that Paul planted (labored toward a goal) and Apollo watered (prayed over the work Paul was doing) and that’s what allowed God to give the increase in the end. God will change Heaven and Earth on His own, but our families will change only if we work WITH God in order that we may have lasting, permanent, and sincere changes.
Is your home right now in a dysfunctional state? Is your home and family the proverbial mess? Are there negative elements in your home right now, like anger, bitterness, contentiousness, disunity, strife, and the like? Is your family split into two factions pitting yourselves against each other? Are there parents who are afraid to parent? Are there children who are disrespectful and disobedient? Is there a pending divorce? Is the family as a whole very backslidden and away from God and church? Remember, if God is going to change all of Heaven and Earth, He can easily change your family. It’s you who will either limit God, or help Him.
To bring about change in our families, we must adopt the position of 2nd Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We want God to make our families new. We want God to rid our families of the old way of doing things. We want God to take away any dysfunctional aspect of our homes and replace them with healthy, God-honoring alternatives. But we need to help Him! We need to take the initiative! Here’s how…
In 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 we see a litany of people who will not see Heaven if they don’t repent from their sins and be saved. However, after all that, Paul states an important fact in verse 11, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Justified means that we are saved (Romans 3:24-30). That’s the starting point. We must be saved in order for God to wash and sanctify us. And both of those elements require action on our part. All three actions require initiative from us if you include the fact that we must actively and consciously call upon Christ to save us. But aside from Christ saving us first, we need to focus in detail on the washing and sanctifying elements in 1st Corinthians 6:11.
Washing ourselves means that we cleanse ourselves from what makes us dirty. We must rid ourselves of what tarnishes us. When we are clean after a shower, and we go to the park and play in the sand and mud, we get dirt on us. What must we do to rid ourselves of the dirt so we can look presentable to our parents when they call us down for dinner? We must wash ourselves. This gets rid of the dirt that stuck to us AFTER we were made clean. That’s the physical aspect of cleansing ourselves from what make us dirty. There is a spiritual component to this as well.
When we were made clean at the moment of salvation by the shed blood of Christ, we were cleansed of all sin. However, when we continue to sin after we are saved, this sin dirties our souls and hinders fellowship with God. It’s this sin that must be dealt with on a daily basis (Matthew 6:12). God promises to forgive us of our sin in 1st John 1:9 by reminding us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Even the Bible says we need to cleanse ourselves. Confess your sins early and often. Confess your sins immediately! If you feel the sting of guilt, don’t wait. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to feel the same level of conviction and the less likely you’ll be to seek forgiveness.
So change requires that we are first saved. Then it requires that we frequently cleanse ourselves to remain clean before God in order that we may remain in close fellowship with Him and remain on praying ground with Him (Psalm 66:18). Thirdly, change requires that we continue with the process of sanctification toward holiness and Christlikeness. This is where change really occurs. This is where the concept of becoming new creatures begins. Sanctification is about putting off the deeds of the old man (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9) and dying to self (Romans 8:13). Putting away what you once enjoyed, but is now detrimental to you and your family. That is the goal here.
In Psalm 101, there are several things that will help us change our families into something new and more God-honoring. One of them is this statement: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” (vs. 3). For example…Get rid of external television feed to your home. We did, and it has made a world of difference and I don’t even want to entertain the thought of bringing it back in. Even if I controlled the programs watched on television, I had no control over the commercials, which are getting racier by the day. Words and images are shown in movie trailers that I don’t want my children seeing. And if it’s wrong for them to see things, it’s probably wrong for us as adults too. Television is just one example of many…like magazines, radio stations, music CDs and DVDs. Just look around you and you’ll find plenty of things you could get rid of in the trash. And believe me…that’s an ongoing process because we let our guard down over the years and find ourselves being more permissive after a while, until guess what…it’s time to purge again.
Here’s another. Put away your desires for free time and the pursuit of pleasure on Sunday mornings for the opportunity to worship with your brethren. There are two days to the weekend, one for you and one for God. Go four-wheeling on Saturday and go to church on Sunday. That’s one way to demonstrate your commitment to dying to self. Deny your self the pleasures it cries for. Spend that time with God so He can work in you and move you further in the process of sanctification. Purging things will help us become less distracted from God, and denying your self certain pleasures will give us the time needed for God to work the process of sanctification in us.
Ever wonder why the early church was so effective and on fire and your family isn’t? Acts 2:42 explains it this way, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” This is what the early church did. Since churches are made up of families, I’d say that the majority of the families of the early church did the same things. What does your family do? Change depends on these four elements. The Apostle’s doctrine is the body of teaching they learned from Christ, along with the Old Testament writings. Your family will not know how to change, or even know that you need to change, without each of you studying God’s Word. The early church loved each other and fellowshipped with each other. Your family has four people in four separate rooms watching four separate televisions. Many families don’t even eat meals together. How can you initiate change when you’re never together long enough to discuss such things? When the early church broke bread, it was for the remembrance of Christ and forgiveness of sin. Again, without studying God’s Word and doing what is needed to keep your conscience soft and sensitive to sin, how will you know when you have anything to confess? All the while, your relationship with God is strained and your prayer life is hindered. How can your family change like that? Because prayer is the time to ask God for the things you need in order that you may change.
You must die to self daily (1st Corinthians 15:31) in your pursuit of change. After all, change is not a “one and done” endeavor as evidenced by the fact that 2nd Corinthians 4:16 says, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed DAY BY DAY.” According to Colossians 3:10, it’s renewed through knowledge…just like the early church.
Let’s tidy this up shall we? God created a new Heaven and a new Earth all by Himself. He can create a new individual, and there’s no reason not to extend that to include the fact that God can change an entire family. God will not bring about change in your family while you sit back passively. No, you need to work with God. You must be saved. You must wash yourself in confession early and often. You must do your part in the sanctification process. But for goodness sake…pray…study…fellowship…and confess your sins. Get everyone in your family doing that consistently for a change that will lead to something NEW!