Monday, March 12, 2012

Lenten devotion: Cleansing

When God speaks his Word creates what it commands. So when Christ says, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (John 15:3), we are truly clean. When the Word says “There is no condemnation” (Romans 8:1) there is truly none. This we live in and trust by faith.

God speaks through the prophet Ezekiel saying:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness…”(Eze. 36:25–29).

The Old Testament picture of purity vividly portrays the need for cleansing and atonement to approach God. In his teaching and actions, Jesus reached across barriers to approach those who were unclean, outcasts and marginalized: a leper, a suffering woman and even a dead child receive the touch of cleansing and a new life. Yet to those who thought of themselves clean by their external life, he reminds that it is not that which goes into the body that makes one unclean but rather it is that which comes out of the heart (cf. Matt. 15:18).

After careful examination which leads to repentance, a believer gains nothing by continuing in a guilty conscience. As John puts it, to say that we have not sinned when we have “shows God’s word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10). Likewise, to insist that we are filthy when we have been cleansed is equally false. There comes a time when the most spiritual thing we can do is to accept cleansing from all sin as an accomplished fact and stop calling unclean that which God has made clean.

The final book of the Bible proclaims that the cleansed will live in the new heaven and new earth. There, disease, death, tears and brokenness are gone forever. The Lord and his people are at last together, thanks to the cleansing brought about for the entire creation by the sacrifice of Christ.

Of that place, Revelation says “Nothing impure will ever enter it…Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city…He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 21:7; 22:14, 20).

Come soon.

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