The Urge to Purge

When a person becomes a new Christian or when new convictions settle into their heart, often varying levels of guilty thoughts about physical remnants of their "past life" begin to creep in. After all, doesn't the Bible say 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, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24)?

Does that mean we have to throw away everything from our former life? Is it sinful to keep things that remind us of our "old life"? If an object appears sinful to some people, does it have any place in our home? What if we don't feel guilty, should we? What if some of the "old life" stuff were gifts?

The Urge to Purge

When you look around your bedroom and see things that prick your conscience, the Holy Spirit may be convicting you to purge that object from your room. Take those things you are convicted about and donate if appropriate, toss them out, or hide them away in a box.

Those things you aren't sure about, pray about them. Pray for each item individually. Is God convicting you to let it go or is this important to keep? At the end of the day, only YOU will truly know if any given item is going to lead you closer to God—or further from Him. Be honest with yourself.

It may take some time for you to figure it out, and that's OK. You may find it easier to get rid of things first and slowly bring them back and see how they affect your spirit. If you are worried about throwing them out, then you could make a box of "unsure" stuff and periodically take out one item at a time. See how God convicts you. It may be a couple years before the box is empty, but that's OK too. There doesn't have to be a deadline.

Give yourself the grace of time to work it out between you and God. Ask God to help you pinpoint your conviction and where it is coming from, then respond accordingly (James 4:17).

The "Dark" Stuff

Now, just because you're Christian, that doesn't mean all your décor must look like a Precious Moments Nativity Set. Let's say you have skeletons or animal bones as a part of your aesthetic interests. If these items are not a hinderance on your faith, then there's no problem. The early church met in the catacombs (tombs). Most of the early church was martyred, and the church would hold their bones in reverence, often having church near where they were buried to remind themselves of what a life faith could mean for them. There's even a church in the Czech Republic that is decorated almost completely with bones. (It's called the Sedlec Ossuary if you're interested.)

Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with skulls or even zombies—as long as your faith doesn't suffer because of their presence.

Guilt Over Purging Gifts

If guilt for throwing away a gift is the only thing keeping it on your shelf, it's probably time to let it go. You can't keep every gift you ever get nor are you under obligation to do so. This only gets truer the older you get. So, keep the things that make you a better person, that showcase a quirky part of your personality, that remind you of God.

If you cannot say how something is making you or your room more holy or more "you," then it probably shouldn't be there. There's no reason to feel guilt for getting rid of gifts any more than you should feel guilt that you don't still have the same blanket and pillow set you had when you were a child. Our tastes change, our values grow and develop, and we become more aware of what things mean to us and to the world.

Misunderstood Stuff

Sometimes we own things that other people may not understand, or they may misunderstand why we have them or even be offended by them. The key to knowing what to do with this stuff is ask yourself, "What does this mean to ME? What will it SAY about me?"

I was wearing a pair of dream catcher earrings the other day, and a new friend of mine cocked her head and asked me about them. I explained, "See, I was raised practically next door to an Indian Reservation, so my love of dream catchers has been there since I was a child." Upon hearing this, my friend pursed her lips, then shrugged. "I'm glad you can do that. It wouldn't be right for me. They mean something else to me." There's the key. If your faith is not harmed or if it is even strengthened because of the thing, it is OK for you. But if you feel convicted, you need to listen to your heart.

I have a friend who dumped her whole collection of Victoria Secret perfumes and other accessories when she was convicted about wearing them. Consider what you want your room and personal appearance to say about you. Some fashion brands are very demeaning to women and encourage rampant sexual promiscuity, so those things might not be good to have around. That said, at the end of the day, it's a choice to make between you and God.

When we first start our walk with Christ, we usually must do some house cleaning. Things we used to watch, read, or use can help feed bad habits that will draw us further from God. Clean those things out. Maybe, one day, they'll come back...but maybe not. Having a clean house with no conviction is safer than holding onto things you're convicted about out of a sense of guilt, obligation, or just because it's familiar (Matthew 5:29).

What do your possessions say about your relationship with Christ?

The Apostle Paul gives caution about this to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8) and to the Romans (Romans 14). He boils it down to two points: If your heart is convicted, it's sin to do (or keep) it. If you cause your brother or sister in faith to sin by doing (or having) it, then it's sinful to expose them to it.

My prayer for you as you embark on the crazy, amazing—sometimes full of hard choices—journey that is a walk with Christ, is that God will give you wisdom about all the decisions you must make about the things of your "old life" and will show you how to move forward with your new life (James 1:5).


Writer: Brianna

Brianna is a manager at her favorite childhood bookstore. She is likely to be found curled up with a book and her black cat, Bear, talking to a stranger, dancing outside in a thunderstorm, singing Disney songs while making cookies, or snuggling her best friend's baby while drinking coffee. Her heart is fueled by the desire to help people find their unique wings and use them in whatever capacity God has created them for. She is passionate about seeing and finding Christ in the secular world wherever she can.

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