The Cleansing/Purifying Work of the Savior/Messiah
In some circles of the body of Christ there is great emphasis on the initial saving work that Jesus does when unregenerate sinners turn to Him for salvation (justification). And well there should be an emphasis throughout the body of Christ on this wonderful saving work, and our role in it. But it is crucial that we all know that Jesus our Savior does not stop or slow down once God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).
While there is an initial and wonderful cleansing work by our Savior when we are born again (see Titus 3:5), He continues to cleanse us from the roots and foundations until the day we are finally and ultimately saved or delivered (glorification), and forever joined with Him in heaven. Sadly many seem to be unaware of or not sufficiently aware of and embracing this current work of our Savior.
So the following scriptures are given so that we can all know and experience Him as the great Purifier and Cleanser of His people. May He reveal Himself to you in this way as never before as you meditate on these scriptures.
“….For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2,3
It is interesting to me that the very last prophetic portrait we find in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah emphasizes that He will come to purify and refine – starting with the leaders and shepherds of His people. Malachi prophesies that this must happen or else the leaders of His people cannot please the Lord with their service. Jesus isn’t into our sacrifice for Him. He wants clean vessels. He wants all the filth and corruption and defilement that we have acquired over our years on this sin filled planet to be completely cleansed. This is one of the main reasons for His coming.
“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I , and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11,12 (cf. Luke 3:16)
The metaphor of fire is again used of the coming Messiah’s ministry as John the Baptist paves the way not just for His coming, but for why He is coming. Some have taught that being baptized with fire has to do with having passion and zeal. But that is not in keeping with Malachi 3 nor is it in keeping with the rest of this passage. The fire both Malachi and John speak of is a fire that burns away anything and everything that is unclean and that is not pleasing to the Lord. The winnowing fork has a similar purpose of separating the good from the bad or the wheat from the chaff.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Jesus had just declared in vs. 34 that “….everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Jesus alone can set us free from the bondage to sin, and He came to do just that!
“and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9
In this historic theological debate the early church leaders had as described in Acts chapter 15, Peter eventually stood up and reminded them all of how God had sovereignly led him to Cornelius’s house, where he found a house full of Gentiles, all of whom evidently responded in faith to his message, were born again by the Spirit of God, and experienced that initial cleansing that Jesus does with all of us, when we place our faith in Him as our Savior. I would point out here that both our initial cleansing when we first come to the cross, and our cleansing from then on all happens by faith in what Christ has done for us on the cross, and for what He has made available to us by His precious blood.
“Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” I Cor. 6:11
Paul above speaks to the church in Corinth – reminding them of the initial washing of their sins they received by the blood of Christ when they were born again.
“…..just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thin; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27
This passage above speaks to both the initial cleansing that took place when we placed our faith in Christ; and the ongoing cleansing that takes place as He works to cleanse us from all of our spots and wrinkles – perfecting holiness and blamelessness in our lives.
“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14
One of the major reasons Jesus Christ laid His sinless life down for us and allowed evil men to beat Him and nail Him to a criminal’s cross is to break the hold of lawlessness on us, and to so cleanse and purify us – that we would become a united people, who gladly submit to His Lordship, and zealously go about doing His work on the earth until He returns.
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
When Jesus invaded our lives and decided to save us from our sins, He made us new creatures with a clean slate – washed by the blood of the Lamb.
“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14
For many of us, by the time Christ saved us, our consciences were greatly soiled and stained. We had engaged in all kinds of sins of the tongue and the mind and heart; sins with our eyes; sins with our hands; not to mention all the things He wanted and expected us to do that we never did. One of the wonderful aspects of our salvation is the deep deep cleansing of our consciences by the blood of Jesus so that we can effectively serve the living God.
“and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:21,22
The idea above is as believers, since Jesus is such a great high priest over and for His people, we can at any moment of any day draw near to Him – by faith trusting that He will by His blood sprinkle our hearts clean from an evil conscience, and He will wash our bodies from all defilement. This is something we are invited and expected to do continuously.
“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” I John 1:7
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
For much of my Christian life, I have taken vs. 9 of I John to refer solely to my confessing my sins to God alone. But the discussion in context is enjoying fellowship with other believers. And that fellowship can only kick in, and edify us if we are being honest with one another about our sins. Not every sin to every believer we know (obviously). The Holy Spirit must lead us. But it should be happening regularly. And as it does, He is more than faithful to cleanse us from all sin and unrighteousness. He wants our fellowship with each other to be real and edifying and life giving far more than we do. And He is able and committed to provide the cleansing necessary for this to happen as we get our sins out in the light with each other and with Him.
Jesus Christ never sleeps. He is heaven bent on cleansing each of His sons and daughters from “all unrighteousness”. He will tirelessly and graciously do this until the day we are with Him. May He receive the honor and glory He so deserves for this wonderful freeing and life giving work!