This is an independent article by itself as well as the part 5 of the “How To Overcome Sexual Temptation” series. (See Christian Purity for the entire series)
What is spiritual cleansing? To every Christian a spiritual cleansing should be as normal as taking a shower. It’s not mystical. It’s not for the super godly only.
Spiritual cleansing is a combined result of the following non-exclusive list:
- Reading God’s words according to the leading of the Holy Spirit
- Taking time to digest the words one verse at a time, or quickly skim through a whole chapter (whatever work better for you at the time, as long as you can handle it and understand why you do it the way you do. Be patient and wait for the Lord to speak to you through the words)
- Mixing your faith with the words such that you believe it will change you, and that the promises of God will gradually actualize in your life, even though you may not feel anything at the time, or that the scripture is saying the opposite of what you are actually experiencing
- When you see something in the words that convict you, take the time to confess them to God fully and ask Him to heal you completely
- Asking God to heal your memory of sins and past wounds
- Binding Satan and his dark force that are working against you in the spiritual cleansing process with the authority you have in Christ
To give you an example of spiritual cleansing, today I went through one of the chapters in an Online Christian course, Freedom Journey (I will show you the link at the bottom, just listen to me first ). It is a course that help Christian who is struggling with porn and masturbation. I find that the whole course is also useful for all kind of spiritual problems, not just sexual addictions.
For example, if you have a stubbornly prolonged struggle in any area such as finance, relationship, health, unpleasant memory, fear, or other stubborn problems, you can use some serious spiritual cleansing to deal with it. A spiritual cleansing will open door to a long delayed freedom.
I recommend that you go through the Freedom Journey Courses. Since you are reading this article, I would say you probably need a spiritual cleansing!
In life, spiritual wounds and bondage are both common and complex, they are like wounds with infection; you can’t expect the wounds to recover before you disinfect them properly and bandage it up. In fact, if you just let it stays the way it is, it will get worst.
It takes time
Every time I go through similar spiritual exercises such as the ones in the Freedom Journey courses, I would find the process exhausting. Sometime, after an hour or two of spiritual cleansing I would fall into a heavy nap for hours.
And you shouldn’t expect it to be a quick fix, so don’t try to rush through it. It takes time to listen to God and internalize His messages.
Through active listening and interactive conversation with God (Although sample prayers can help, there is no secret password or spell that will guarantee God’s answer, so just be real and sincere), healing and cleansing will take place.
It is a time consuming process, be prepared to set aside a large chunk of time on your schedule for each session. It is also not a one time fix, although it’s possible to experience complete freedom the first time. You should be ready to invest time on multiple sessions to get complete recovery.
Expect negative emotion, stress, and Chaos
The cleansing process will reveal, and even stir up, hurtful memory, memory of sins, anger, bitterness, and/or a plethora of other negative emotions. You may also have a hard time understanding and receiving God’s words or pray due to physical, psychological discomfort, or heavy distraction. When one of these symptoms occur, take heart and don’t be afraid. Ask God to protect you and reassure you with His Holy Spirit and His words.
Walk in your own pace
Don’t try to rush things through, even the parts that stir up negative emotions in you. For example, it’s painful to confront a hurtful memory and forgive those who were involved. But if that piece of memory became a stronghold where Satan could use it to attack you and tempt you, you should let God speak to you and heal you until you reach a closure – when the memory will no longer generate bitter or angry feeling.
Some steps will take more time to go through than the other. For example, let say you want to go through Bible verses about healing and try to memorize them so you can quote them and pray through them 24/7, you may find it difficult to focus and keep up with the exercise. Don’t rush. Do it one verse at a time. It’s better than trying to do them all within a short period, because that way you will probably drop the ball.
Warning. Don’t back down or walk away too early!
Although you can take your time and walk in your own pace, and that trying to rush it will only be counter-productive, don’t go too easy on yourself. The spiritual cleansing process is easy to get distracted and it’s easy to forget to go after it if you put it aside for a while.
There’s always urgency and busy trivia in life that fight for your attention. The Bible says:
“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them”—Matthew 13:7.
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful—Matthew 13:22.
Yes, I understand how it feels to set aside a big chunk of time to do this soul searching, healing, and cleansing thing while putting up with challenges in life. But you need to have faith. You need to believe that this is worth it, and that you will bear so much fruits if you persist till the end.
If you don’t really believe it, you will procrastinate; and you will be easily distracted by other things and soon you will give up before seeing results.
In the Old Testament time, Israel had a great prophet, Elisha. He was getting old and became terminally ill. At the time the Israel was being oppressed by the Arameans “severely” (2 King 13:4)
The king of Israel visited the sick bed of Elisha, and cried before the prophet like a baby (2 King 13:14), for there seemed to be no hope left for Israel if even the great prophet Elisha passed away.
The old prophet instructed the king:
15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”
18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”
20 Elisha died and was buried.
Like the king of Israel, victories are ours if we follow through God’s instruction.
I actually learned of the Freedom Journey Course in 2006, but I didn’t go very far with it because I was intimidated by the negative thoughts and feelings that had occurred during the process. I figured I would do better if I just shifted my focus away from the battles and not to think about my problem with sins at all.
This time that I am trying to work through it again, I sense that I am able to experience a new level of freedom that I haven’t been able to attain in the last 3 years. Although the negativity are still there, this time thank God I am much more courageous and decide to see what happen if I stick it out.
When Do You Expect to See Results
God’ words is true no matter what our circumstances show us. At first, your experience might seem unchanged, or even frustrating. Don’t get whiny. Continue to speak God’s words and trust in His promises!
This is an excellent quote I copied from the author of the Freedom Journey, Paul Cook, in Chapter 1:
We exercise our faith when we believe in God’s word and confess it with our mouth (Romans 10:10). It could be as simple as saying to ourselves each day when we get out of bed, “I believe that in Christ I can be and will be free of my struggle.” Often our natural circumstances may not appear to be lining up with God’s word. The challenge is to not allow our circumstances (or past failures) to steal our hope. Faith believes in what is yet unseen (Hebrews 11:1-3). It releases God’s power in us to perform the impossible and bring the unseen into reality!
Most of the time, my walk with God is one that is about the spirit, rather than the senses. I have never seen, heard, or touched God. I haven’t sensed any warmy fuzzies feeling in my walk with God for a long time, and it rarely happens.
Somehow it is above the physical or psychological senses, but the Spirit has gently strengthen me and encouraged me through the years. I have become more and more like a fire ball for God inside.
Similarly, it is how things typically go during a spiritual cleansing process, or any other spiritual disciplines. You don’t have to feel disappointed if you can’t sense a change or anything special at the time.
A change is usually realized after a while. It is when you have distanced yourself from the cleansing experience that you will be able to have a clear view of what happened.
Although I am not a fan for special feelings during a spiritual encounter with God, I do believe we encounter God much more frequently than we can realize and He is speaking to us most of the time.
But I Have Daily Quiet Time With God!
Do our daily quiet times bring spiritual cleansing as well? Certainly!
I have seldom skipped my daily quiet time with God and my Bible in the past 3 years. Those were sweet hours with God. And God has spoken to me often everyday. All I have to do to listen is to listen.
But why do I need to set aside large chunks of time for other spiritual disciplines such as going through the Freedom Journey Course, working through other Christian devotional or books, taking time for retreats, doing fast, and participating in fellowship with other Christians?
Suppose we compare God to an endless stream of river, and we are containers. The river always flow, but we as the containers need maintenance, cleaning, or major repairs from time to time in order to maintain our capacities to draw water from the river.
It’s difficult to spend time alone with God all the time. The first hour might be sweet, but the remaining day can become long and tiring if you continue to do it alone.
In the past 3 years I have been home a lot, at the beginning I was very much eager to study the Bible, memorize it all, and meditate on it day and night. But soon worldliness and heavy distraction crept in. Doing quiet time with God for about an hour per day has become my limit, averagely speaking. (Anyone can be totally excited for a while. I myself had done a 40 days fast together with a friend before. You can pray for 7 hours a day for a few days, but soon that will wane)
You need other Christians’ help. For example, read their devotional online, watch TV church, join a support group or Bible study group, or even read a Christian bestseller book. (Of course you should be a regular member of a godly Church too. )
You should always end the spiritual cleansing sessions with joy and thanksgiving. I will tell you why:
The Israel and Judah in the Old Testament time had sinned too much and the Lord punished them by delivering them to their enemies. The Israel and Judah were conquered and enslaved by invaders respectively.
When the Jews came under the rule of the Persian Empire, a Jew named Nehemiah was an attendant before the Persian Emperor. The king showed him favor and allowed him to rebuilt the Jerusalem. Long story short, the city was rebuilt and they had some sort of a ceremony accompanied by having the ministers to read the law of Moses to the people in the city.
The Jews, upon hearing the law, wept. For they now knew why their nation was destroyed – their ancestors had sinned and ran away from the Lord.
The spiritual leaders there comforted the people, and admonished them to stop grieving:
This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.10Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8: 9-10
Joy from the Lord is our strength. Without joy it is very easy to fall into sin and all sort of addictions again.
Grieve is normal during genuine confession and confrontation of sins before the Lord. But the Bible say, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Godly sorrow will quickly turn into joy and celebration (See the Bible story of the Prodigal Son in luke 15), but beware that you don’t get stuck with regrets. Satan will try to use excessive guilt, sorrow, and regrets to keep you under his yoke.