Friday, September 27, 2013

Of Cleansing and Holiness

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me [Isaiah 52:11],’ Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God...the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life” (Revelation 21:9-11,23-27).

What cleanses us? It doesn’t start on the outside. In fact, cleansing the outside appearance alone is the sure recipe for hypocrisy (Matthew 23:25,26). Besides, our uncleanness doesn’t start on the outside (Mark 7:18-23). We continually need Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, to cleanse us by His Word (Ephesians 5:26; cf. Ezekiel 16:9), just as He has cleansed by His blood shed on our behalf (Hebrews 9:22; 1 John 1:7,9). “And God, Who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8,9; cf. Matthew 8:2,3; Mark 1:40,41; Luke 5:12,13; 11:39-41; Acts 10:15; 11:9).

Father, we are cleansed by the Word and blood of Your Son, applied to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help us to be holy as You are holy (1 Peter 1:14-19). Give us a greater desire for You than for the things from which You have cleansed us. If it is the not the result of Your gracious cleansing, we don’t want it. If it is not Your holiness, teach us that it has no place in Your Church. Give us wisdom who know little of holiness to know it, discern it, and desire it in love and truth.

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