Cleansing the Holy Place

By Francis Frangipane

Within every Christian there is a secret place, a sanctuary we must prepare for the Lord. This holy place is not unlike the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple. Not until this place is cleansed will the Lord dwell with us in the fullness of His Spirit; not until this room is pure will we truly become a house for the Lord.

Bring Out the Unclean Thing
"And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thess 2:14).

The Lord is cleansing us for the distinct purpose of bringing His people into His glory. Yes, out of His desire to present a pure bride to His Son, the Father is purging the church of its sin. He is refusing to allow our inter-church relationships to continue without love. According to the Scriptures, before Jesus returns, the body of Christ will be holy and blameless (see Eph 5:27; Titus 2:14; I Thess 5:23; Col 1:22; Phil 2:15; etc.). Through new and successive levels of purification, the house of the Lord will again receive and display the glory of God.

To facilitate this process of cleansing, by way of example, we are going to study one of the greatest periods of restoration and renewal in the Bible: the rule of King Hezekiah. Prior to Hezekiah's reign, his father, King Ahaz, brought the very worst forms of idolatry into Israel. Ahaz shut the temple doors and persecuted the priests. Those whom he did not kill, he corrupted. Without the influence of a godly priesthood, Israel soon followed Ahaz into idolatry and unrestrained sin.

Although Hezekiah was a relatively young man when he succeeded Ahaz, he courageously sought revival and healing to the nation. In the very first month of his reign he "opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them" (II Chron 29:3). He then consecrated the priesthood and began to restore the temple. Hezekiah's first priority was to restore true worship. We read, "And he brought in the priests and the Levites and gathered them into the square on the east. Then he said to them, 'Listen to me, O Levites. Consecrate yourselves now, and consecrate the house of the Lord... (2 Chron 29:4-5).

God initiated His plan to redeem the nation by consecrating the priests and cleansing the house of the Lord. For this task, Hezekiah had been prepared. As a young man he watched Israel's "fathers . . . fallen by the sword." The men who were not slain on the battlefield could be heard weeping in the grainfields: "our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity!" (II Chron 29:9). Hezekiah knew only one option, one plan, was offered to Israel: return to God. In obedience, he began His reign by consecrating the house of the Lord.

Hezekiah next ordered the priests to "...carry the uncleanness out from the Holy Place." Before the Eternal One moves visibly in power, He moves invisibly in holiness; He cleanses His house. Then the outward signs of restoration and revival, the miracles and true conversions, follow. If God will touch our cities with His fire, He must put that fire within us. Everything the Almighty does for us as individuals will work to deliver others. He will deliver those who are not innocent, and they will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands (see Job 22:30).

Hezekiah never stopped thinking of Israel, but knew he must begin the restoration of the nation with the consecration of the priesthood. It is significant that he made no appeal or effort to win the nation itself; he had no program of reform other than restoring true worship. The king's focus was not on turning the heart of the people, but drawing the heart of God. If the Lord is lifted up, He will of His own will and power, draw all men unto Himself.

Even as Hezekiah reopened the temple doors, so also in us there is a door which we must open daily unto the Lord. David wrote, "I was always beholding the Lord in my presence" (Acts 2:25). Within the psalmist's heart was a dwelling place for the Lord; David was always beholding the Lord. Similarly, there is something in our presence, in our spirit, which can be opened or closed to God. We must not assume that simply because we are Christians this gate toward God is automatically opened. Jesus stood "at the door" of the Laodicean church and knocked, desiring to enter their lives. We must choose to unlock this door and swing it wide toward Christ.

Yet, opening this chamber of our hearts can, indeed, be a frightening thing. For it requires we not only talk to God, but hear from Him as well. It is one thing for us to speak honestly with the Lord; but quite another when He speaks without restraint to us. Therefore, the most essential commodity for stimulating revival is a tender, open heart before God.

Is the door of your heart opened toward God? Can the Spirit of Jesus Christ come in and speak with you? Are you defenseless to His voice? Can you sense what displeases Him and what draws His pleasure? For us to become sensitive to divine realities, we must live with the door of our hearts open. It is impossible to do the will of God otherwise.

King Hezekiah commanded the priests to carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. The call to clean the holy place was not an option, it was a command. "So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the Lord they brought out to the court of the house of the Lord" (2 Chron 29:16).

When the priests entered the holy place, they entered alone; the rest of Israel was in the outer court and beyond. Here, privately before God, they were to remove those things which were defiling this sacred place. No one else had seen these desecrations. They could have remained in secret and none except the priests would have known, but they did not. They brought out the unclean things. What was unholy was exposed publicly and removed.

From where did these abominations arise? Predominantly, they were the sins of their forefathers: the traditions and offenses which were handed down to them from the prior generation. The careless approach to holiness, the unbelief toward the promises of God, the idolatry and worship of man-made things were the product of a generation turned from God. It was this legacy of sin and compromise and its effects that the priests removed.

In the new-covenant temple, the church, it is our private, inner life which needs this deep cleansing. We have inherited traditions which justify and reinforce darkness of soul within us. Most Christians have little hope that purity of heart is even attainable. The revival which will turn a nation begins in the trembling unveiling of our hearts, in the removal of what is defiled and hidden within us.

I will tell you a mystery. It is in this very place, this chamber of our deepest secrets, that the door to eternity is found. For if the Father is near enough to "see in secret," He is close enough to be seen in secret as well. If He has entered us, we can, in truth, enter Him. The key to entering the presence of God is intimacy, and intimacy is secrets shared. To ascend the hill of the Lord, to stand in the Holy Place, we must have clean hands and a pure heart; we cannot lift up our souls toward falsehood (see Ps 24:3-4). At the door of eternity, we must renounce those things hidden because of shame and, in humility of soul, receive Christ's cleansing word.

The Pure In Heart See God

Our goal is not merely to be "good," but to see God and, in seeing Him, to do what He does. However, John tells us that he who seeks to "see Him just as He is...purifies himself, just as He is pure" (I John 3:2-3). We can be assured that each step deeper into the Lord's presence will reveal areas in our hearts which need to be cleansed. Do not be afraid. When the Spirit shows you areas of sin, it is not to condemn you, but to cleanse you.

Let me give you an example: My wife set herself apart to seek the Lord. Her cry during this time was, "Lord I want to see You." As she sought the Lord, however, He began to show her certain areas of her heart where she had fallen short. She prayed, "Lord, this is not what I asked for, I asked to see You, not me." Then the Holy Spirit comforted her explaining, "Only the pure in heart can see God."

In the same way, the Lord desires His church to see Him as well. Thus, He is exposing the areas in us which are unclean. If we will walk as Jesus walked, we must remember, Christ only did the things He saw the Father do (Jn 5:19). Out of the purity of His heart, He beheld God and then revealed His glory.

The purpose of cleansing the house of the Lord is that we might sincerely be prepared for more of Christ. This cleansing must become a way of life, but it does not have to take a lifetime. For Hezekiah and the people with him, it occurred in a matter of eight days.

"Thus the service of the house of the Lord was established again. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly" (2 Chron 29:35-36). The key here is this: the cleansing of the temple was the highest priority of the king's life. When we are fully engaged in the process of repentance, breakthroughs can come about suddenly.

Indeed, the prophet Malachi tells us that the Lord "whom You seek, will suddenly come to His temple" (Mal 3:1). As we restore the house of the Lord to purity and cleanse the holy place of our hearts for Christ, He will indeed come "suddenly" into our midst. After the Lord, in His fullness, returns to His house, He promises,

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me" (Mal 3:5).

With the Lord again abiding in His living house, He will release judgment against that which oppresses our cities. Yet, the cleansing of our cities, begins with the cleansing of the church. It is time to remove sin from the hidden places of our hearts.

Let's pray: Blessed Jesus, I desire deeply for You to dwell in me. I yearn to be Your holy dwelling place. I ask that the sanctuary of my heart would be purged of every defilement of flesh and spirit (II Cor 7:1). Here they are, Lord Jesus, my hidden sins. I bring them out of the secret chamber of my heart. (Audibly identify your sins by name). I take them out of the darkness and expose them to Your light. Lord, You have promised You will execute Your word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly. Oh God, thoroughly cleanse my heart; purify me quickly my Master! In Jesus' Name, amen.