By Johnny O. Trail — I have a manner of packing after a vacation that I suppose is like the method many other people use. When I leave to return home from vacation, I have one goal in mind—getting home. To that end, I am not always discriminating in the manner of packing up that I engage in to go home. My mantra “Find an empty space and shove it in.” This is especially true when it seems that we always leave with more than we arrived with initially.
Just recently we returned from a vacation in Florida. One of the tasks to be completed before leaving our condominium is cleaning out the remnants of our refrigerator. To this end, we filled a trash bag half full of left over yogurt, chicken salad, sandwich meat, and other sundries. While this was happening I took a load of luggage and other items down to our van for final packing. When I came back to the room, I found the bag of trash and carried it to the van. I did not realize that it was in fact a bag of trash. We occasionally pack unsecured items in trash bags, and I reasoned that the kids had already taken the trash out of the condominium.
Remember my manner of packing for the return trip? If it is not glued down, stuff it in a vacant space and leave for home! This is exactly what I did with this bag of trash.
When I returned home and started unpacking, I realized my mistake. I had packed a bag of trash and drove it over a thousand miles from our vacation location to home in ninety degree weather. One rider in the back of the van remarked, “The van smelled like molded feet!” We suddenly realize “why?” when the contents of the trash bag revealed food items that went without refrigeration for over twelve hours.
What are the spiritual applications of such an occurrence? Simply stated, when one becomes a child of God, he is expected to leave the trash behind. This is exactly what the Corinthian brethren did upon their conversion to Christ. I Corinthians 6.9-11 says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 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.” They repented of just about every sin that one could possibly imagine. By virtue of that fact, there is no valid reason for one not changing their life to follow after Christ.
These brethren threw away the trash in their lives when they repented from sin. Unfortunately, there were people in God’s writ who neglected to throw away the trash. It caused a stench in their spiritual lives. Conversely, the Roman brethren evidently carried their trash with them. Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” They were still bondservants to sin as a result (Romans 6.22-23).
When people converted to Christ, God expects them to leave the trash behind. Jesus commanded this very thing in Luke 13.3, 5 “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Without a change (repentance) in our lives, there can be no forgiveness.
John the Immerser understood this concept as he baptized people under direction of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:7-8 says, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” Their insincere reasons for repentance and baptism were known by this man who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, thus their “change” was not truly valid.
Our lives stink, spiritually speaking, when sin continues to control us. Paul addresses this in Romans 6.11-14 when he says, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” When sin has “reign” and “dominion” over one who was a child of God, he has once again become the bondservant of Satan.
There remains no sacrifice for one who is unwilling to change their manner of behavior. Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” One might continually struggle with sin, but practicing it until death condemns one’s soul.
When we do not repent of sin as outlined in the Bible, salvation cannot be effectuated (Acts 2.38). 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Simply stated there is a difference between just being sorry and sorrow that results in a person changing their life.
This might be exemplified by the reaction of the Jews in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost on A.D. 33. Notice their response to realizing that their sins had murdered the Son of God. Acts 2:37 says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The terrible news of their sinful actions cut them to the core. That is part of the problem with sinful behaviors—many people are not ashamed of their behaviors let alone cut to the bone with the implications of their actions. Our sins murdered the sinless Son of God. Nothing should cut us deeper!
When we carry trash in our lives, it causes one to be burdened. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
If we truly leave the trash behind, we should not want to go back to it. 2 Peter 2:20-22 says, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Why would we want to return to something that has made us spiritually weak?
In converting to Christ, one must repent of every sin that could cause him to be eternally lost and leave it in the past. Again, the Corinthian brethren were guilty of every kind of sin (I Corinthians 6:9ff), but they died to past sins after their baptism. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “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.” We need to follow their example and leave the trash behind.