Have you ever remodeled a home or office? It’s a mess. We’re doing some remodeling at the Eastern Shore church at the moment. Before anything new can be built the old stuff has to be torn away. Old ceiling, cabinets, walls, flooring; it all has to be torn down before the new materials can be added. It’s a messy process but needed.
The same happens to the Christian. The old ways have to be destroyed before the regeneration (remodeling) can begin. God’s prophet Hosea said it this way:
“Come let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).
We don’t normally think of God as one who destroys or tears down. We don’t think the Lord would strike us down. But Hosea says otherwise and other Scriptures support the idea.
In Romans 6:6 Paul says “our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing…” Our destruction comes before our reconstruction. In Ephesians 4:20-24 the apostle says we were taught to “put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” Again, destroy the old so we can be renewed.
One more: “Do not lie to one another seeing you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10). Clean out the old before putting in the new. It seems clear that there must be some tearing down and trashing of the old man before he can be remodeled. No one lays a beautiful new Berber carpet over a 1970’s era orange shag carpet. The old must go!
Hosea recognized that God can and will bring us down before building us up. It is often in the depths of our despair that we come to know God. Only when there is nothing left do we really see his love for us. Even Paul had trouble understanding this idea until he had begged for deliverance from some unknown “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). His conclusion was:
“I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God’s greatest leaders have always been broken before they could be used. Noah spent 120 years laboring over a boat; Abraham wandered as a nomad; Moses fled luxury to tend cattle; even Jesus suffered in the wilderness. In fact the Bible says Jesus “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7) so that he could redeem mankind. Like these great men, let us surrender to God so that he might first break us and empty us before rebuilding and refilling our spirit.
When trouble comes, could it be the Lord working to tear us down so that he can rebuild us? It is a frightening thought but one that leaves behind the prospect of a God-built spirit. Remember the words of the psalmist: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…” (Psalm 127:1).