The minimalist movement has gained popularity over the past few years, promising to declutter our lives. And while it’s great to clear out our stuff, it’s our emotional baggage that often leaves us feeling most depleted. But what if we could learn more from minimalism than just how to have a clean space? What if, instead, we could see a parallel to what freedom in Christ truly looks like? Check out this extended excerpt from the Deep Clean Bible Plan (with bonus content!) for more.
Think about the feeling you get after you deep clean your space. The clutter goes away, the surfaces get that gleaming, shiny look, and everything smells fresh and new. As you look around, you feel accomplished—like you can breathe again.
We now have entire shows about people tidying up their homes, color-coding their pantries, and minimalizing their stuff. But while we’re quick to get on board with getting rid of our junk, what about the internal work of deep cleaning our souls?
Many of us are carrying around emotional baggage, and our mental clutter can be overwhelming. But instead of addressing it, we often ignore it. It’s easier to keep moving, stay busy, and distract ourselves with activity than it is to address the very real mental load we’re carrying.
But just as we can’t clean our houses by shoving everything into a closet, we can’t shove our emotional junk into a filing cabinet in our brains. If we do, it eventually boils over, often leading to relational conflict, physical side effects, and resentment.
Here’s the thing: We don’t have to wait until we’re at our breaking point to evaluate what’s broken. In fact, it’s a really healthy practice to invite the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and clean our hearts on a regular basis.
We see this practice modeled for us in Psalm 51. David—known as a man after God’s own heart—had messed up. Big time. He had committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to cover it up by allowing her husband to get killed.
But now, when he comes to his senses, he writes a plea for forgiveness, including this prayer:
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NLT
David turns his remorse into genuine repentance. He doesn’t just shove his emotions down or hide in his shame. He turns to God. He invites the Holy Spirit to do a cleansing work in his heart.
Every day, we have the opportunity to do the same thing. We have the ability to find freedom in Christ on a moment-by-moment basis.
When we’re overcome by guilt, shame, bitterness, rage, or unforgiveness, we can ask God to give us a clean heart. When we’re faced with temptation, we can ask God to purify us. Even on a normal day, we can ask God to cleanse our hearts and fix our thoughts on Him.
It’s time to invest in our souls like we invest in our space. But it’s not possible in our own power.
Deep cleaning our souls is less about what we do to clean ourselves up and more about inviting God into our mess. It’s about allowing Jesus to invade our hearts and transform our entire lives from the inside out. How? By being honest about where we need to see change, and inviting God into it.
If you’re struggling under the weight of shame, deep clean your life by going to God, remembering His endless grace, and reminding yourself about our unlimited freedom in Christ. If you’re struggling with control, remember that your Creator knows what you need better than you do, and He can be trusted. If you’re battling secret sin, wrong motives, or negative thoughts, bring them to the light. Ask God to give you a clean heart, and bring in people you trust to hold you accountable.
It’s possible to declutter our souls when we fix our eyes on Jesus. Rest in that. And remind yourself this truth about freedom in Christ from the writer of Hebrews:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. … Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
It’s important to note that deep cleaning our souls doesn’t just mean fixing our behavior. Freedom in Christ is much deeper than that. And that’s why deep cleaning our souls starts by evaluating the state of our hearts.
In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to Pharisees who are careful to follow the right rules but missing the right motivations in their hearts. His words capture why it’s important not just to clean the surface of our lives, but to allow the Spirit to transform our hearts:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” Matthew 23:25-26 NLT
As we seek to deep clean our souls from the things that hold us back and weigh us down, know that Jesus Himself is the only way to true, lasting freedom. Why? Because in this life, we will have trouble. Just as we fling off old baggage, new baggage will pop up. But Jesus is with us, and the Holy Spirit is within us, guiding us, teaching us, comforting us, correcting us, and purifying us.
We get a powerful reminder of this in John 15. Jesus is about to fulfill His purpose—dying on the cross for our sins. He’s giving His disciples some final encouragement before this happens, and He reminds them that He’s the Vine—the way to salvation. Then He says this:
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to You.” John 15:3 NIV
Because of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us, we are clean. We are accepted. We are invited into the family of God. That’s why we call it freedom in Christ! We don’t deserve that invitation because no amount of work could make us clean enough for God. But because of Jesus’ grace, His sacrifice, and His mercy, all we need to do is accept that invitation.
When we do, we can trust that the Father will continue to prune us, guiding us and helping us become more like Him.
So, maybe there’s more to minimalism than meets the eye. Maybe, the same way we make it a practice to get rid of stuff, we can make it a habit to go to God and fling off everything that holds us hostage, remembering that freedom in Christ offers us just that—freedom.
And this process of inviting the Holy Spirit to deep clean our souls doesn’t have to be fancy. Do what David did when he changed directions: Take some time to ask God to give You a clean heart.
We may mark our calendars to clean our homes—likewise, let’s carve out time regularly to ask God to renew our minds so that we can begin to know His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Wondering where to start? Try spending some time reflecting on this question: What areas of my soul might need a deep clean?
Pray: God, create in me a clean heart. Reveal to me anything in me that is displeasing to You. Show me any areas where I might need to allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse me, and help me honor You with the way I live. In Jesus’ name, amen.