“And he [Jesus] went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:45-46)
One great thing about the Bible is that you can read the same Scripture at different times and get different ideas, and they won’t contradict each other. They may address different subjects or the same subject from a different angle, or you may catch something on a second or third reading that you didn’t catch on the first reading. That’s why Psalm 119:96 says, “thy commandment is exceeding broad.”
Our opening passage obviously talks about false religion. Jesus threw out the buyers and sellers from the temple who were turning religion into a racket. Some of Jesus’ harshest words were aimed at the religious phonies who let this go on and didn’t preach God’s Word as they should have. He told them, “Ye are of your father the devil,” and “ye are not of God.” (John 8:44, 47). In Matthew 23, He called them hypocrites and children of hell.
Matthew 21:12-13 is about the cleansing of the temple, too, but it also gives a different take. It says in part, “And Jesus went into the temple of God.” The phrase “the temple of God” is interesting. If you look at the story a little differently, you’ll see a very different kind of cleansing that Jesus does.
You may think you have to “clean up your life” in order for Jesus to save you. Not true. If that were the case, then people would be saved by their works: “I cleaned up my life, so now I’m saved.” No. Salvation is you “throwing yourself on the mercy of the court.” You come to Jesus as a guilty sinner with nothing to bargain with. You receive Him as Saviour by inviting Him into your heart and life, trusting wholly in Him to forgive and save you completely by His grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The hymn “Rock of Ages” by Augustus M. Toplady and Thomas Hastings includes these words:
“In my hand no price I bring, Simply to thy Cross I cling.”
You don’t make deals with the Lord; you simply trust in Him to save you. Once you receive Jesus as Saviour, your body becomes the temple of God: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, italics mine). We also find in Galatians 2:20a that Jesus Himself dwells in you: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” When you receive Jesus as Saviour, then He works in your life from the inside to “clean house.”
In order to enter someone’s house as a cop, you need consent, a warrant, or an exigent circumstance (emergency). If someone consents to let you in, he knows that if you find anything troublesome, you’re going to deal with it. In the same way, once you receive Jesus as Saviour “by consent” and “let Him in” to your heart and life, you know that if He “finds something” sinful, He’ll deal with it by convicting your heart. That’s why faithful church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer are important. You may accept Christ at an older age, after a lot of sinful behavior. Yet as you hear good preaching, read your Bible and pray, you grow as a Christian and the Lord deals with your heart about things you should start or stop. As you obey His leading and sin is cleansed from “the temple of God,” you become stronger and your relationship with the Lord is more joyful. First, you let Him in, then He cleanses the temple.
If you’ve not seen in the Bible how to have eternal life by receiving the Lord Jesus as Saviour, click “Helpful Links” on the top menu and then “How Do I Go to Heaven?” on the dropdown menu.
Brian Miller 11/7/2016
Cleveland Baptist Church | 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 | 216.671.2822