“There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” Prov. 30:12
In my previous and first study on this whole subject of Cleansing, we focused on knowing and trusting our Savior as One who came to cleanse us from all sin and defilement until the day that we are with Him face to face.
In this study I want to focus on our role in this all important call from our Savior to be continually cleansed. Then I hope to follow this study up with some very practical steps for developing a lifestyle of being daily washed and cleansed from sin, defilement and corruption.
The reality sadly in the body of Christ today is that many of us have been able to serve and minister and seemingly be used (sometimes greatly) of the Lord, and yet have huge blind spots as to our own personal need for inner transformation and cleansing.
May this study be used to open eyes, reveal blind spots and prepare the way for that great deep cleansing work of our wonderful and merciful Savior before He returns for His bride without “spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:27).
For those who throughout the history of the church have seen the need for daily personal inner transformation and cleansing, we find in their writings that Psalm 51 often is a central text for their aggressive pursuit of cleansing and purity. In that Psalm more than any other is a passionate and repetitive plea for cleansing and washing and purity such as is seen in verses like: Vs. 2 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Vs. 7 “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Vs. 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
If cleansing from sin was as simple as a one time plea for such, Psalm 51 would have been far shorter and to the point. Our experience and growing revelation of this process is that if we are to get to the roots and the foundations of our sin, persistent asking (per Matthew 7:7,8) is imperative.
One of the things that characterizes all the revivals or times of restoration in the Old Testament such as the ones Nehemiah, Ezra, Hezekiah and Josiah led, is deep and wide spread cleansing of idolatry and worldliness. God has always been concerned about the purity of His people as can be seen in all the commands and laws for such throughout the Old Testament, starting as early as Exodus 19, wherein – Vs. 5,6 speaks of their unique call among the nations; Vs. 10 speaks of the role cleansing must play to see this call fulfilled. The call to cleansing is especially emphasized in the book of Leviticus.
God, through His prophet Isaiah, in the first chapter of the book he penned, appeals to His people to return to Him from their rebellion and idolatry by commanding: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight…” Isa. 1:16. No amount of religious activity or sacrifices or rituals would substitute for their taking personal responsibility for their own cleansing and washing away of sin and unrighteousness.
In the New Testament, Paul appeals to the church in Corinth to take their need for corporate cleansing seriously, “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” I Cor. 5:7 Sadly up to that point they were choosing to overlook this need.
In his second letter to them, he exhorts, “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE, “says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.” II Cor. 6:17 The apostle Paul, in his passionate appeal to the church in Corinth to enjoy intimacy with God through embracing the ongoing work of personal cleansing, points them back to Isaiah’s hope-filled prophecy in Isaiah chapter 52 of a coming time of restoration – exhorting them on the basis of that promise to pursue cleansing from all the filth of the nations surrounding them – so that they can participate in this promised restoration. This passage then leads into the glorious prophetic promise of the coming Messiah starting in Isa. 52:13-53:12.
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Corinthians 7:1 The good news is: we can be fully and completely cleansed from “all defilement of flesh and spirit” and it is Christ’s full intention and will that we be so cleansed. The reality is that we must embrace the responsibility to “cleanse ourselves”.
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” II Tim. 2:21 Our usefulness to the Lord depends on whether we have cleansed ourselves.
“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 10:22 This appeal of course is based on the truths regarding our great priest, Jesus, who now presides over “the house of God” (vs. 19-21), which is His people, not a building.
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 The apostle James appeals to the church to be cleansed from all sin if they truly want intimacy with God. Double-mindedness speaks of the significant compromise in our lives as believers, where we – for instance – on the one hand decry the debauchery and filth and godlessness in Hollywood, and yet set apart time every weekend to watch one or more of their movies or T.V. shows – justifying it by the fact that it is only rated PG or PG13. What difference does it make what the rating is if the said movie or T.V. show is godless, does not glorify God in any way, does not speak of Christ in any good way, does nothing to enhance my oneness and intimacy with Christ and oneness and intimacy with my wife (if I have one)?
“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 The apostle John’s argument in ch. 1 vs. 5-10 is that if we truly want to experience ever growing fellowship and intimacy with God and with one another, the darkness/sin that presides in all of us must be dealt with. We deal with it by confessing it both to Him and to those in the body of Christ the Holy Spirit leads us to confess to. This alone will result in forgiveness and cleansing according to vs. 9.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:7,8
Please note the responsibility of the bride to “make herself ready”. And the way she did this was to basically cleanse herself (by the blood of Christ). What are these “righteous acts? Well we are not told in this passage. But very likely one of them is confession and repentance since these acts are themes that flow through the scriptures.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14
This is the final reference in the Bible to our responsibility to pursue our own personal cleansing, and a wonderful promise for those who do so.
As a final note, we would highly encourage our readers to take some time and trace every reference in the Bible to the words: clean, cleanse, cleansed, cleansing, cleanses, wash, washed, washing, etc. No better way to see God’s intention for His people to be clean and pure.