Greg Laurie - Time To Clean House
All right, let's take a quick poll. How many of you are super neat organized people? Raise your hand. Super neat and organized. Okay, how many of you are messy people? Raise up your hand. Wow, it's almost evenly split. How many of you who are messy and are neat... how many messy people are married to a neat person and vice versa? See, that's funny, isn't it? And that's how it is in my home as well. My wife Cathe, total slob. Why are you laughing? Because that's not true, she's the opposite, she's very neat, very organized, always cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. And I am not that person. In fact, I think we all know what it's like if you're one of those messy people who have messes get so big that you just... I can't live in this space anymore, right?
So finally I have to do something about it. You have two choices in life, you can undertake the Greg way of cleaning or the Cathe way of cleaning. The Greg philosophy on cleaning is never do today which you can put off until tomorrow. And if you don't know what to do with something, throw it in a random drawer. So I have drawers filled with stuff, just all kinds of stuff, pens, and this and that, and I don't even know what's in it anymore and I don't even wanna open it. It frightens me a little bit. The Cathe way of cleaning is always clean, always, stay on top of it. There's dust on the floor, Greg sweeps it under a rug, Cathe sweeps up properly. And I think the same is true of the Christian life, always maintaining your relationship with God because you can wait until major problems develop as a result of neglect.
It might be a fascination that turns into a habit, that then becomes an addiction, and soon a little thing becomes a big thing. Suddenly that little problem is like a Goliath in your life. You know what I mean by a Goliath? He was that giant of a man in the story of David. Nine feet, six inches solid muscle taunting David, and the rest of the people of Israel. And we can have giants in our life like that. That frighten us, that taunt us, that scare us. But you know, Goliath wasn't always a giant, he was a little baby once. I bet he was a big baby, right? I bet no one wanted to change his diaper. Would you want it? "It's time to change Goliath's diaper". "Ah, I did that yesterday and it took hours. I don't wanna do it again. I was traumatized by it".
And imagine him having a temper tantrum as a little toddler. But one day he grows into a giant of a man and our giants, our problems, so to speak, start small but little things turn into big things. Little liberties turn into big vices. And then one day they're a full grown giant. So what we need to do is ask God to cleanse us of our sin on a regular basis. Don't wait till it builds up to some giant problem or horrible mess, every day it's maintenance in the Christian life. Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer to pray as follows, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us".
Just as surely as you should pray on a daily basis for God's provision as in your daily bread, you should also pray on a daily basis for the forgiveness of God in your life. All right, well let's read now this story which was actually the second sign of Jesus as recorded in John chapter 2, the cleansing of the temple. I'm reading from the New Living Translation starting in verse 13. "It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. So Jesus made a whip," I love that, underline that. "Jesus made a whip".
I almost gave that as the title of this message. "Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers' coins over the floor, and he turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, 'Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!'" Okay, we'll stop there. So this is sign number two, seven signs in the gospel of John. Sign number one, turning the water into wine. Sign number two, overturning the tables. If you were one of the disciples, you might've said, "Lord, are you sure you want to make this your second sign? Because the first one was really popular".
I mean, Jesus shows up at a wedding, he turns water into wine, everybody's happy, everyone's having a great time, they're all singing together. Jesus is just all right with me. Yeah, we like Jesus. Jesus is a good guy to have around. Maybe Lord, your second sign could be healing a blind man, or the recovery of the ability to hear or how about raising someone from the dead? Jesus says, "I'm kind of thinking of going with this right up front". And it was a radical thing. You know, to overturn tables, that's kind of a big deal. We've seen it in a million westerns, haven't we?
The Cowboys, the gamblers sitting around the smoke filled bar playing cards. Everybody lays their hand on the table and one guy says to the other guy, "I think you're cheating". And all of a sudden he turns the table over and the cards go flying and the money goes flying and the piano player, the piano player, always has a little derby hat on. It's mandatory if you're a piano player, wear the little derby hat, not a cowboy hat. And he always has a little garter thing on his sleeve and he's playing, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. He stops. Everyone stops and looks and a fight breaks out, it's a violent act to overturn a table. Money went flying. He did it to get their attention. Kind of reminds me of our own lives.
You know, we invite Jesus to our table, we invite him into our life. He brings, as the Bible calls it, joy unspeakable and full of glory. He brings us a peace that passes human understanding. It's fantastic. Suddenly for the first time perhaps, we have hope, we have purpose. We say it's great to invite Jesus to your table until he turns it over. Because he might come and say, "Well, there's some things in your life that need to change. You can't do this anymore this is destroying you, it's destroying other people". Why does he do this? He tears something down in order to build it back right. Jesus compared it to someone pruning, pruning a fruit tree. In John 15:2 he says, "He prunes the branches that do bear fruit, so they will produce even more".
So Jesus and his disciples are headed into Jerusalem, it's Passover time. That was when friends and family would gather kind of a happy time, maybe a sense of joy in the air. And now all of a sudden Jesus is getting irritated. He's hot and bothered. He walks into the temple and what does he see? He sees this outer area known as the court of the Gentiles, filled with all of these tables, with these money changers. Now, what is this all about? These are people that stepped in and said to you, "You come in with your little lamb". It's all you could afford, it's unblemished, it meets the criteria. The money changer says, "I'm sorry but this lamb does not pass muster. But we're having a deal on temple approved lambs that you can buy for a jacked up price".
And so you would pay it because you wanted to approach God. And in fact, even in the old covenant, before Christ came and died on the cross for our sins establishing the new covenant, God non-Jews to believe. You could still believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So the court of the Gentiles was for those folks, but as they're trying to get in to approach God, they have this barrier put in front of them and this made Jesus angry. Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe, made this statement and I quote, "You can tell a lot about a person by how they answer these three questions, what makes you laugh? What makes you weep? And what makes you angry"? Good question. What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? And what makes you angry? Jesus was clearly angry. This is righteous indignation.
Verse 15, "Jesus made a whip". "Wait a second, is this Indiana Jones or Jesus of Nazareth? Are you kidding me, a whip? What? A whip? Seriously, overturning tables is this necessary"? Apparently so. It flies against the stereotypical false image of Jesus that we so often see in religious art, where Jesus is scrawny, anemic, sometimes even feminine in appearance and we think "This dude needs a sandwich," okay. "You're making fun of Jesus"? No, I'm making fun of a false religious portrayal of Jesus that is not biblical. The Jesus of the Bible. I think he was strong. I think he was a man's man.
If you would've met him as a guy, you'd say, "I admire that man". It takes strength to overturn a table, it takes strength to carry a 400 pound cross through the streets of Jerusalem after your back has been ripped open with a Roman whip. Jesus was strong but he was meek. And there's a difference between being meek and weak. You know, sometimes someone is very weak and they'll say, "Well, I'm just meek". No, you're actually weak, you're not meek, you're weak. The word meek means power under constraint. It's someone who has the ability to do something but chooses not to.
So Christ is meek but in this particular instance, he's showing righteous indignation, bringing me to point number one if you're taking notes. There are things that make God angry. This perverting of his purpose was something that clearly made Jesus angry. Listen, I don't know about you, but I wanna know what angers God. I wanna know what God loves as well as what he hates. In the book of Proverbs the Lord says, "There are seven things I hate". It's good to know what those things are because you don't wanna do something that God hates and you don't want to make him angry.
By the way, it takes time to make a whip. You know, it took, I don't know, a couple of hours. So this is not an explosion of anger, this is not God losing his temper. Can you imagine if God just went on a temper tantrum. Planets flying around. "I'm mad, I want breakfast," you know, whatever makes someone angry. God's not like that. When he's angry, it's for a reason, it's righteous indignation. You almost wonder if the disciples were a bit embarrassed like, "Really Lord, seriously? You're doing this"? "Yes, I'm doing this". But then they remembered Psalm 69, verse 17 of John 2. "His disciples remembered it was written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"
That brings me to point number two, God cares about his house. He likes to maintain it and he likes to keep it clean and he will not tolerate evil. And so if you come to Jesus he will accept you as you are, but he does not want to leave you that way. Yes, Jesus was a friend of sinners, yes, he welcomed tax collectors, and thieves, and prostitutes and other people like that but he didn't leave them that way. Matthew was a tax collector that meant that he worked for Rome. He would've been hated by his fellow Jews because he being a Jewish man was perceived as a turncoat, a Benedict Arnold, if you will. And yet Matthew hears Jesus say, "Follow me," and he gets up and leaves his table and follows Christ.
And I think of all the disciples he gave up the most materially because he had a very lucrative career. But he was the tax collector. Then he became Matthew the Apostle and also Matthew, the author of a gospel. Saul of Tarsus was a murderer on his way to hunt down Christians, torture them and put them to death. And he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and he was transformed from being Saul of Tarsus to being the apostle Paul and wrote so many of the great epistles. And it just goes on and on. Yes, we serve a God of mercy, but he's also a God of majesty. And he doesn't want sin in his church, and he doesn't want sin in our lives. And so he hates anything that opposes us. He loves us and because he loves us, he hates anything that would hurt us. So we should love what God loves, and we should also hate what God hates.
Bringing me to point number three, God gets angry when people are kept from coming to Him. God is angry when people are kept from coming to Him. Oh, this can happen in the church as well. You know, a non-believer comes and joins us and they look a little different. And we make a judgment on them by the way they dress. Or something about them, "Oh, they're one of those". Are they? Well, maybe they are, maybe they aren't but they're loved by God. And aren't you glad they're here to hear the gospel? Why does the church exist? There's three reasons the church exists, the exaltation of God, the edification of the saints, and the evangelization of the world.
So when we gather together as believers, we're here to glorify God, to lift up the name of the Lord, we do that in worship, but now we're here for the edification of the saints. Edification means to build up one another. So when we study the Word of God, we're being edified or built up. But listen, we also are here for the evangelization of the world. I'm glad when people who don't think like us, or look like us, or live like us, come and join us because my prayer is they will become one of us through faith in Jesus Christ. So you might ask, "What does Jesus cleansing the temple have to do with me right here, right now"? Well, number one, the temple is not the church. Or let me restate that, the church is not the temple.
Sometimes we say the church is a sacred building. So when you walk in, "Don't speak loudly, whisper, we're in the church. Don't laugh, don't laugh you're in the church". Come on, this is just a building. This is not the church, you're the church. I'm the church. Wherever we gather together, that's a church. If we're in a stadium, if we're in a movie theater, if we're at a beach, wherever we are worshiping God, honoring God, that's the church, right? But you, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible actually teaches this. Revelation 3:20, excuse me, 1 Corinthians 6:19, I meant to say, "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, who you have received from God, you're not your own. You were bought at a price; therefore, honor God with your body". Your body, my body is the temple of the Spirit. And sometimes God wants to do a little temple cleansing. Sometimes the Lord will come into your heart and life and say, "This needs to go, that needs to change, this needs to be looked at in a new way, that sin needs to be confronted, that vice needs to be repented of, even your mind needs to be clean". You need to have a mind that's in alignment with what God wants you to have and as scripture says, "Bringing every thought into the captivity of the obedience of Jesus Christ".
You know, and we need periodic house cleanings. By the way, did you know this? Jesus cleansed the temple. Not once, but twice. Some people are confused because they read about it two times in the Bible. One time he has a whip, the other time he doesn't. Well, that's because he did it two times. He cleansed the temple when he started his ministry and again, he cleansed the temple when he was bringing his earthly ministry to a close, you see. And why did he have to cleanse it twice? Because it got cluttered again. Probably started with one guy set his table up, another guy shows up, someone else shows up and pretty soon all the junk is back. Maybe it's even worse than it was before and can that not happen in our life as a Christian?
You know, we come to Jesus, we repent of all these sins, this lifestyle is gone, everything's fresh and new, but then we make a little compromise here and lower the guard over there and next thing you know, all this stuff has come back and maybe it's even worse than it used be before it's time for another house cleaning. It's time for the Lord to come and say, "Let's deal with those things". We need to be constantly cleansed in our relationship with Jesus Christ. One final movement to the story and I find it really interesting.
Look at John 2 verse 23. I'm reading now from the new King James Version. "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name". Underline that phrase. "Many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them". Underline that too. "Because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man". Wow! "Many believed in His name when they saw the signs he did". What signs did they see? At this point, water being turned to wine. They had seen them cleanse the temple. These were significant signs. They were very impressed and they believed, right? Well, maybe not because it says, "Jesus did not commit Himself to them".
See, here's the thing with Jesus, he knew all things. So you might almost translate this verse, they believed in him, but he didn't believe in them. Or they trusted in him, but he didn't trust in them. Why? Because he knows all things. You're saying, "But wait I thought God welcomed all people. Doesn't God want everyone to believe"? Yes, if they come with the right motives. But these people saw the signs but the problem was their faith was superficial and it was hollow and he could look right through them. He was always looking through people. In fact, when Jesus called Matthew, I mentioned Matthew earlier. He says to Matthew, "Follow me". And the actual verse says, "He looked at Matthew," and that phrase looked at could be translated, "He looked right through Matthew," looked right through him.
Have you ever had anyone look right through you? Let me restate the question, do you have a mother? Maybe when you were a teenager you're out a little bit late and your mother says, "Where have you been"? "Nowhere Mom". "Look at me," she says. And you just started confessing everything. You confess things you didn't even do, right? Jesus could look right through people. He knew the backstory, he knew the thoughts, he would call people out periodically. "Why are you thinking this in your heart"? How do you know that? Because he was God, he was omniscient and he knew all things. And he saw that these people who thought they believed in him really did not at all.
Bringing me to my next point, Jesus knows everything about you. Let me add one thing to that. Jesus knows everything about you, but yet he still loves you. No one knows how dark your heart is except you. No one knows how dark my heart is except me. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitfully wicked above all things, who can know it"? That's why we shouldn't walk around saying, "I'm just trusting my heart. The heart wants what it wants". Yeah, don't trust your heart. Your heart can get you into trouble, you see?
So God sees through you but yet he loves you because even though you're a sinner, he also knows if you're a seeker, "And those that seek him will find him". And here's a great illustration. So John 2 ends with, "Many believed but Jesus did not commit himself to them". But then John 3 opens with the words, "Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus," and then it goes on to tell the story of Jesus and Nicodemus, that religious leader who wanted to know Jesus who ended up becoming a believer. So these people didn't really believe and so he didn't commit himself to them but then there's this guy named Nicodemus that showed up and he did believe and Jesus revealed himself to him.
God will reveal himself to any true seeker. That's my last point. Jesus will always reveal himself to the true seeker. And sometimes will say, "You know what? Prove it to me. Show me and I'll believe". And effectively Jesus would say, "Believe and I'll show you. Come with as much faith as you have, and let me change your life". Maybe you've tried to clean up your life. You've thought, "You know what? My life's a mess and I'm gonna become a Christian. I'm in the process of converting. I'm gonna cuss a little bit less, be a little less angry, do a little less of that". Yeah, but that's not conversion. See, you don't clean up your life and come to Christ, you come to Christ and he'll clean your life up.