A bitter taste in the mouth
A friend of mine gave me a few kilograms of olives to bottle. But bottling olives is not a simple job. First you have to get rid of the bitterness. I normally choose to take the long method. For months on end the water has to be replaced daily. And as the old water is drained the bitterness is drawn from the olives slowly but surely. By the end of those months the olives are put in a strong salt mixture and then they are ready to be bottled in vinegar with a sprig of rosemary. Hard work, but worth the effort with an enjoyable end result.
This more or less illustrates what we as Christians are like, because you see, before we became Christians our lives were filled with sin. We were bitter and no asset to God. In a way we also have to be purified daily. God’s water must flow through us every day to wash the impurities from our lives.
Paul uses the image of something rotten. It’s as if we have to throw off the rottenness in our lives and put on an entirely new life. 22Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! 23And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, 24a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
The first important step is to realise that something is rotten. The sin inside us rots us. Like the olives we are bitter and that is not pleasant for God and the people around us. We must realise that we are sinful as a result of the fall of man. Sin happens automatically. It’s our default setting and again and again we want to fall back into the mud of sin. Only when we realise this, can we start to get rid of the sin inside us.
However, it’s not as easy as getting rid of dirty clothes. It’s not as easy as taking off the dirty clothes after having worked hard outside all day and, like most men, leaving it on the floor and getting clean clothes from your wardrobe. No, it’s a process and with some people it takes longer than with others. The dirt, the bad, the sin is so deeply ingrained that it cannot be eradicated just like that. Yes, some people can immediately stop doing a specific sin, but for most of us it is a long process. It may even take years.
We must realise that the road of our old life does not have a good ending, but even more – along the way it becomes strewn with bodies. Therefore, we should rather draw a line in the sand and admit that we are dirty with sin, leaving God with a bitter taste in his mouth. Then we must allow God’s Spirit to flow through us like fresh water every day. And only then we will take on the nature of the Holy Spirit more and more: 24… a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us, the wrong actions will appear less and less in our lives. The bitterness will disappear. The dirty marks that sin leaves inside us will disappear more and more and our clothes will be clean. God will be at the centre of our lives and we will not only be pleasing in his eyes, but the people around us will really enjoy walking the roads of life with us.
May this be true of each of us!
Where in your life does the old life still break through?
How much space do you allow for the Holy Spirit to clean up your life?
What must you do?
Father, I don’t want to give You a bitter taste in the mouth. I know I’m wearing dirty clothes. Please help me to admit this every day and to take off the dirty clothes piece by piece and put on clean clothes. Then I will be able to stand clean before your throne. Amen