In our house, it's my job to take the garbage to the curb on Monday mornings. On more than one occasion in the summer months, I’ve walked outside to find both the inside and the outside of my garbage can covered in…
Wait for it…
If you’ve never experienced this, I don’t even have the words to describe just how disgusting it truly is. It smells horrible, looks horrible and believe it or, not, sounds horrible as you can hear them sliming all over one another. (Still reading? I know it’s gross, but I have a point…)
Let’s say I grab my hose and spray off the outside of the can and don’t do anything about what has caused the real problem on the inside. What’s going to happen? Within moments the can will be covered again because what’s on the outside came from the inside. Sin is the same way.
In Matthew 23:25-28 Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for projecting pure lives apart from pursuing pure hearts. We do the same thing. We go to painful lengths in order to project that we are righteous people. We go to church, tweet a verse from our quiet time, give generously, serve sacrificially and live in community with other believers. Understand, those are all good things, but Jesus said we can succeed in all those things and still miss what matters most - our hearts.
Sin is a problem of the heart (Matthew 15:18-19). The reason you and I do what we do - the reason we struggle with pride, deceit, anger, lust, gluttony, and laziness - is because our hearts are poisoned by sin. This is why any solution to sin and its fruits that does not address the heart is entirely unhelpful. We’re not sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners (Ephesians 2:3).
So, how do we move from external obedience to internal transformation? Simple: Only the perfect blood of Christ purifies our hearts. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The more we press into the purifying work of Christ, the more we change - from the inside out.