Paul writes about the sacrifice of Christ, “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory” (Eph. 5:26-27). That task is something we must continue to do—maintaining the church in all her glory.
The divine contribution and foundation of the church has been laid. It was the Lord that pitched the divine sanctuary (Heb. 8:2). Christ is the Head of it (Col. 1:18). Christ is the founder and builder (1 Cor. 3:11; Matt. 16:18). It is bought with His blood (Acts 20:28). The purpose is to glorify God (Eph. 3:21) and to save (Eph. 5:23; Acts 2:47). These are things that no human institution or deviant form of righteousness and holiness could ever perform.
We play a part in her continued glory. Our contribution includes living as sanctified members (Eph 5:26; 1 Cor 1:2). Christ must be sanctified in us (1 Pet. 3:15). We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We must be those who are always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:38). We must “hate evil and cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9). Part of that process is putting to death the fleshly. “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Col. 3:5). We must put aside “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth” (Col. 3:8). Having put away those things, we are to remain diligent to keep them at bay in our hearts and minds. As God’s elect, we are to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:12-14). We all benefit from being in a family where everyone is striving to be like Christ in these ways. The ultimate purpose is also to maintain the glory of His church.
There are things that we must not allow into our hearts and assemblies. Things that would tarnish the glory that God desires. Those things are indifference (Rev. 3:16), worldliness (1 John 2:15-17), division (1 Cor. 12:25), compromise (Gal. 1:10), irreverence in worship (1 Cor. 11:20-22), and irregularity assembling with the saints (Heb. 10:25). The glory and purity of the church must be maintained in our hearts. As the Hebrew writer warns, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13). The love and desire to present the church without spot or wrinkle must be in us as it is in Christ.