Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cleansing: 2 Corinthians 7:1

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1 NKJV).

Have you ever read through the whole Bible? One of the hardest places to read, it seems, is Leviticus. There are so many laws about what’s clean and unclean and what to do when you’ve touched something unclean. Why did God give so many particulars about how to be physically and ceremonially pure? He was showing His people how to be clean in their outward practices to lead them to be holy in their hearts.

In Leviticus, a book of twenty-seven chapters, the word “holy” is mentioned seventy-eight times. Four times God told His people to be holy because He was holy (Lev 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:26). He had rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt and chosen them to a special people for Himself. He wanted to be their God, and with His own nature being holy, He wanted that for them, too. Holiness is free from corruption, from sin, and from harming others. It chooses to build others up, to show love, and to do good. “Holy” is essential to having a healthy heart and healthy relationships. That’s why God gave them so many laws about being clean. He wanted holiness to be something that started from within and was expressed in everything that they did.

Holiness wasn’t just for the saints in the Old Testament. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul encouraged the church to cleanse themselves. Why? Look at the promises of God in 2 Corinthians 6: “I will dwell in them [believers] … I will be their God … they shall be My people … I will be a Father to them,” and they will be His sons and daughters (2 Cor 6:16-18 NKJV). God has rescued us from slavery to sin and set us apart to be His church. He wants us to be set apart from sin—holy—because He dwells in His children. And He has a special mission for us on earth—to share His word and His love. We get to enjoy a relationship with Him that starts here in this life and lasts for eternity. With gifts like that, why wouldn’t we want to pursue a life that pleases God’s heart? The allurements of sin can’t compare with the fellowship and satisfaction we find in God. His purpose for our lives outshines any selfish purpose we could follow.

Staying pure doesn’t mean we can’t move for fear of getting dirty. Cleansing ourselves is a continual process. Whenever we get dirty, we can cleanse ourselves with the truth of God’s word (1 Peter 1:22; Eph 5:26). Turning back to God and living out the truth cleanses our hearts and our actions. We serve a holy God, and out of love and respect for Him, we can seek to be clean and useful to Him in blessing others.

Other verses on cleansing and renewal: 1 John 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:22; Isaiah 58:12

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