"If we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:7,9.
The same God who forgives sin also cleanses from it. Cleansing is no less a promise of God than is forgiveness; therefore, it is a matter of faith. Cleansing, as well as forgiveness, is as obtainable from God as it is indispensable and impossible for man.
And what now is this cleansing? The word comes from the Old Testament. While forgiveness was a sentence of acquittal passed on the sinner, cleansing was something that happened to him and in him. Forgiveness came to him through the Word. Cleansing was something done to him that he could experience.1 Consequently, we are liberated from unrighteousness and from the pollution and the working of sin by the inner revelation of the power of God--cleansing. Through cleansing we obtain the blessing of a pure heart--a heart in which the Spirit can complete His operations with a view to sanctifying us and revealing God within us.2
Forgiveness and cleansing are both through the blood of Jesus. The blood breaks the power that sin has in heaven to condemn us. The blood also breaks the power of sin in the heart which holds us captive. The blood has a ceaseless operation in heaven from moment to moment. The blood has likewise a ceaseless operation in our heart--to purify the heart from the sin which always seeks to penetrate from the flesh. The blood cleanses the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God. The marvellous power that the blood has in heaven, it also has in the heart.3
Cleansing is also through the Word--the Word testifies of the blood and of the power of God.4 Therefore, cleansing is also through faith. It is a divine and effectual cleansing, but it must be received in faith before it can be experienced and felt. I believe that I am cleansed with a divine cleansing, even while I still perceive sin in the flesh. Through faith in this blessing, cleansing itself will be my daily experience.
Cleansing is sometimes ascribed to God, or to the Lord Jesus, or sometimes to man.5 That is because God cleanses us by making us active in our own cleansing. Through the blood, the lust which leads to sin is mortified, the certainty of power against sin is awakened, and the desire and the will are thus made alive. Happy is the person who understands this. He is protected against the useless pursuit of self purification in his own strength, because he knows God alone can do it. He is protected against discouragement, for he knows God will certainly do it.
Accordingly, our chief emphasis occurs in two things--the desire and the reception of cleansing. The desire must be strong for a real purification. Forgiveness must be only the gateway or beginning of a holy life. I have remarked several times that the secret of progress in the service of God is a strong yearning to become free from every sin--a hunger and thirst after righteousness.6 Blessed are they who thus yearn. They will understand and receive the promise of a cleansing through God.
They also learn what it means to do this in faith. Through faith they know that an unseen, spiritual, heavenly, but very real cleansing through the blood is being worked in them by God Himself.
Child of God, you remember how we have seen that it was to cleanse us that Jesus gave Himself. Let Him, the Lord God, cleanse you. Having these promises of a divine cleansing, receive this cleansing for yourself. Believe that every sin, when it is forgiven you, is also cleansed away. It will be to you according to your faith. Let your faith in God, in the Word, in the blood, in your Jesus, continually increase. "God is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Lord God, I thank You for these promises. You not only give forgiveness, but also cleansing. As surely as forgiveness comes first, does cleansing follow for everyone who desires it and believes. Lord, let Your Word penetrate my heart, and let a divine cleansing from every sin that is forgiven me be the continual expectation of my soul.
Beloved Saviour, let the glorious, ceaseless cleansing of Your blood, through Your Spirit in me, be made known to me and shared by me every moment. Amen.
1) Lev. 13:13; 14:7,8; Num. 19:12; 31:23,24; 2 Sam. 22:21,25; Neh. 13:30; Mal. 3:3
2) Ps. 51:12; 73:1; Matt. 5:8; I Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; l Pet. 1:22
3) John 13:10,11; Heb. 9:14; 10:22; 1 John l:7
4) John 15:3
5) Ps. 51:3; Ezek. 30:25; John 13:2; 2 Cor. 7:1; I Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:21; Jas. 4:8; 1 John 3:8
6) Ps. 19:13; Matt. 5:6
7) Eph. 5:26; Tit. 2:14
1. What is the connection between cleansing by God and cleansing by man himself?
2. What, according to 1 John 1:9, are the two things that must precede cleansing?
3. Is cleansing, as well as forgiveness, the work of God in us? If this is the case, of what inexpressible importance is it to trust God for it? To believe that God gives me a divine cleansing in the blood when He forgives me is the way to become partaker of it.
4. What, according to Scripture, are the evidences of a pure heart?
5. What are "clean hands" (Ps. 24:4)?
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