Deuteronomy 7:25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.
26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.
Edinburgh Castle is a strategic fortress with steep slopes on three sides. Only the east side was easily approached, and so it needed to be heavily guarded. However, in 1314, thirty specially selected warriors climbed the steep north face, where they knew no one would be expecting them, and successfully surprised the defense and captured the castle.1
The saying goes, "A man's home is his castle." We need to guard our homes the same way they used to guard castles; and just like Edinburgh Castle, we must guard against surprise attacks in the areas where we think we are strong. If you own or rent a home or an apartment, you have rule over your own little "castle." You may not be able to control what goes on outside, but inside, you can set the rules. Keep the enemy out.
In these verses in Deuteronomy, God commanded Israel not only to avoid worshipping idols, but to avoid even bringing them inside the home. They couldn't even take the gold and silver off of them! Israel might associate with the idols for the money (gold and silver), for social reasons (to fit in with the surrounding nations), or for spiritual reasons (succumbing to the pull of sin). Likewise, the church today is tempted to bring the "cursed thing" into our houses for money ("With all that money spent on those movies, why throw them away?"), for social reasons ("We don't want to seem strange to our friends"), or for spiritual reasons ("But it is well-written and powerful"). Be careful! Stay away and don't even bring the cursed thing into your house.
For these reasons, I believe Christians shouldn't have totem poles, ritual masks, idols, or any other such thing in their houses. When I was on a missions trip to Africa with my sister, I was proud of our leader when he told the team to avoid purchasing such things in the local market. We want to keep our distance from anything demonic, especially in our homes.
I would like to look at three practical steps we can take to keep our houses pure:
- Clean out the rubbish
- Guard the gate
- Conduct random audits
Step #1: Clean our the rubbish
First, clean out the rubbish. Perhaps you're the leader of your home or apartment, or even just your bookshelf or room, but it's already been compromised. The very first step you must take is to get rid of the evil. Doing a sort of "spring cleaning" and looking through all your bookshelves, cabinets, and in storage, praying about each questionable item and throwing away anything sinful, is a great idea. Ensure that no cursed thing is in your ownership.
When Nehemiah rebuilt the Jerusalem wall, there was "much rubbish" (Nehemiah 2:13-14; 4:2, 10). It was so bad that he could not ride through one spot (2:13-14). Perhaps you feel that your household is in this condition spiritually, with "much rubbish" that doesn't belong. Get rid of spiritual rubbish and sin.
Step #2: Guard the gate
A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop high, the zoo officials put up a ten-foot fence.
However, the 'roo was out the next morning, just sauntering around the zoo. A twenty-foot fence was put up. Again he got out.
When the fence was built forty feet high, a camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, "How high do you think they'll go?"
The kangaroo said, "About a thousand feet, unless somebody thinks to lock the gate at night!"2
The second step is to guard the gate! It's rather feeble to remove the rubbish when the gates are wide open and it will come right back in. The verse from Deuteronomy is talking about this step. Every movie that comes into your home should meet your approval based on your desire to live a holy life. Every song added to your library should be something about which you feel spiritually good and confident. Don't let "spies" into your "castle" that will turn away the hearts of the inhabitants from righteousness; let in only "friends" with the all the proper credentials; allow only media that will help you in your walk with God.
Unfortunately, in our age of modern technology, evading rules is scarily easy. Many evil movies can be smuggled in through just a tiny memory chip or a USB flash drive. You are not responsible for the choices of your children or others, but you are responsible for acting on any knowledge you have. If you know or have reason to suspect someone is bringing in sinful content into your domain but do nothing to stop it, and if you are the leader and have some authority, then you too have sinned in being passive. Pray for wisdom so you can discern evil in the house, and do your best to keep your home pure. Sin will bring the entire atmosphere down, and we must "guard the gate" diligently.
Step #3: Conduct random audits
Let's suppose you have cleaned out the enemies of your castle and have set up a guarded gate. The next step is to conduct random audits and occasional cleanings in the future to make sure nothing has slipped in under the radar or during a moment of spiritual weakness. It's good to re-assess our standing before God from time to time to avoid slowly drifting.
Avoid the problem of Eli, who knew of evil but did not address it:
I Samuel 3:16 - For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
So how do we avoid the "cursed thing"? How do we avoid bringing it into our house? First, do a spring cleaning and throw out any rubbish that has accumulated. Second, guard the "gate" of your "castle"; inspect the entertainment that comes in and ensure it is morally acceptable. Don't be passive. Finally, conduct "random audits" to ensure you aren't drifting, and to try to ensure others in the family aren't bringing evil into your house if you are a mother or a father or legal guardian, as bringing in evil can have a negative effect on everyone. "A man's home is his castle"--so guard it bravely! Keeping your home will help provide a safe haven for keeping your heart.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle, accessed 2018 June, discovered from http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/pride.htm. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. ↩
Hunter, Charles and Frances, Healing Through Humor: Fabulous Jokes from the Happy Hunters, Creation House Press, Lake Mary, Florida; 2003; p. 104 ↩