|Douglas Frank Photo|
I recently wrote about sin and our propensity to dilute its destructive power. We use other words that are more palatable or politically correct. Do we forget that because of our sin, God in Christ Jesus needed to be tortured and hung on the cross? Do we forget that even God the Father turned His back on His own Son because of our sin? Remember we are but filthy rags without Jesus in our lives and hearts.
Throughout the Old Testament we read of the cleansing of the temple or House of God by the Levites. This was commanded as ritual cleansing. Moreover, the symbolic cleansing of the temple was made dramatically real by Jesus Himself, when He cleared it of usurious moneychangers pimping pilgrims coming to sacrifice and worship. Jesus said of His body,
‘“ Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days”’ (John 2:14). Jesus was of course talking of the need for His own sacrificial death and resurrection as a propitiation or atonement for our sins. Our sins were washed or wiped away.
King David’s broken and contrite heart after sinning against the Lord with Bathsheba brought his confession in Psalm 51 saying:
“Have mercy on me Oh God…wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Against you only have I sinned…cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Over 100 times we can read of biblical cleansing, but it is Jesus’ cleansing of the 10 lepers that turns cleansing and healing from just ceremony and body to spirit and soul. Jesus makes us new by the cleansing of our broken and sinful nature. The photo above by my Cousin Douglas Frank looks like cleansing to me.
I know of my own rebelliously ignorant life before Jesus stopped me on The Lake Superior Road. I capitalize because it was my own Damascus Road experience of being stopped by the Lord and cleansed as I confessed my own sin and need for His forgiveness and atoning grace. The Apostle John said, “If we confess our sin, He who is holy and just will forgive us our sin and cleanse or purify us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This cleansing process is at once in our salvation and continuous in our sanctification or growth in life and godliness. Peter goes on to tell us of God’s “great and precious promises, so that through them we might participate in His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). There are some 7,500 promises of God for us to know and believe, for He is unchanging and good to perform them if we will persevere and be changed and cleansed. They are for us to read, believe and follow with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, because apart from Him we can do nothing.
The cleansing process is difficult for us in that as James tells us, it is through trials meant to develop our perseverance, making us mature and complete, lacking nothing. He continues to tell us to seek God for wisdom in this process, which He will generously pour out to us if we will believe (James 1:2-6). We know that God has begun a good work in us and He will complete or perfect it when we see Him face to face (Philippians 1:6).
“But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language…We are to take off the old the old self and put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge and image of its creator(Colossians 3:8,10). Moreover, Paul gives us things to become by “clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other, and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. And over all these things put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity” (Colossian 3:12-14). I love that we are given not just what to get rid or cleansed of, but then what the cleansed or purified self should consist. Now clearly these qualities can be obtained only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have been washed in His blood, freeing me for sin and shame. He has “cleansed (washed) me whiter as snow” (Psalm 51). Take a shower with our only True Friend and be clean.