By: Kristen L. McNulty
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Recently I took some medication that really messed with my system. So much so that even after I stopped taking the pills I was still having very unpleasant side effects. Over and over the suggestion was made that I should go through a detoxification to rid my body of the junk that was in it. I was given directions on what to do and even special recipes that would help in the process. It was widely recognized by those who heard my story that my liver must be filled with all kinds of toxins that needed to come out or my body was going to continue to pay a price for what I had ingested.
While I recognized the value in this advice, a part of me couldn't help but find the advice to be kind of ironic at the same time. Because while physically we seem to be able to easily recognize the need for detoxification and can buy fruit juices and medicines and books and magazines to get the job done, our need for physical detoxification pales in comparison with our often unrecognized need for spiritual detoxification.
You see when we come to know Christ, we get a clean slate, a new start. In the rush of excitement about our new life, it's easy to keep our minds centered on Christ and we are diligent in filling ourselves with good things. We devour our Bibles, faithfully attend church services and Bible studies and we read, listen to and watch things that build us up on this new journey.
But as in anything new, sooner or later our diligence wears off. Christ is still a big part of our life for sure, but somewhere along the way we relax our guard and soon start to injest all sorts of toxins. From the tv shows and movies we watch because "we can handle it" to the music we listen to because "it's won't effect us" to the conversations we have because we are so desperate to fit back into the world to the thoughts we allow to creep into our minds because we get too desensitized to notice that they shouldn't be there, it doesn't take too long before our hearts are effected as everything we put into ourselves does one of two things. It either feeds the spirit or it feds the flesh and when the flesh is fed, instead of dying and staying dead, it grows and will consume anything in its path.
So maybe instead of being solely concerned about detoxing our physical bodies of the junk it has accumulated, we should be even more concerned about detoxifying our hearts.
In Matthew 15:19 Jesus said "For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander."
Since it is out of the heart that these things are produced, don't you see why it's so important that we constantly spiritually detoxify ourselves? Because if our hearts are filled with junk, our lives are going to produce junk. But if our hearts are filled with goodness and the things of God, that is exactly what our lives are going to produce.
So how do we do a spiritual detox? Well it starts with recognizing and confessing to God the things in our lives that don't belong. We're told in 1 John 1:9 "But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."
Did you catch that last part? Not only does He forgive us for the mess we've made, but Jesus actually does a clean up job on the inside as well. It's like we've downed the ultimate detox juice that works its way inside and flushes out all of the garbage that has built up. And while God is faithful to do this when we confess our sins to Him, we've got a responsibility too- we need to take every step we can to stop the toxins from coming back in.
For some that mean deleting some songs off of their ipod. For others that might mean establishing accountability. For others that might mean avoiding certain places or people. For all of us it means renewing our minds. This means filtering everything we think and dismissing, not dwelling, on the thoughts that don't belong. Like we're told in Colossians 3:2:
"Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."
And again on our thoughts we read,
"But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don't think of ways to indulge your evil desires."
When someone is in control of something they own and command 100% of it. For example, a captain of an airplane doesn't just command the wheels but go and let the rudder be influence by someone else. That's not the way it works. When someone is given control they are given authority over everything, whether it's over a car, plane, school, country or a life. So let me ask, who is in control of your life? Unless you've given Christ free reign over everything, any effort on your part or mine to spiritually detoxify isn't going to go very far. When Christ isn't at the center of it all, we leave way too much room for other garbage to come crashing in.
So surrender control to Christ and then let Him stay at the center of your life everyday. Like that verse in Romans says "Don't think of ways to indulge your evil desires", instead do as James instructs us "Humble yourself before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7).
Satan doesn't have unlimited resources and while he never disappears completely, I believe that he does pick his battles. If you indulge him, of course he's going to come knocking again and again and again. But when he finds nothing but a closed door repeatedly in his face, eventually he's going to move on.
So let's stand guard. Let's humble ourselves before the gracious and forgiving God who loves us, confess our wrongs and truly allow Him to take control. It won't be long before you notice the toxins fading away and your spiritual heath increasing as a result. And the value of that cleansing is worth far more than any physical detoxification could ever be because even the most healthy body is of little use to a soul that is dead or dying.
"So, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you keep on following it, you will perish. But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God."
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