The other day I was listening in on some teaching a pastor was giving on what it means to be saved. He spoke of Christ crucified and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin. He also mentioned how that everyone in Jesus has the hope and promise of resurrection to life everlasting. I was rejoicing in my heart to hear a minister proclaim the good news in such a clear and simple manner.
The sadness hit in the next sentences. We can receive this after we clean ourselves up. His analogy was a clean person going into a filthy house. We would not want to do that and so Jesus will not go into a heart that is dirty. Indeed Jesus wants his believing ones to live in peace and righteousness, No where in scripture does it teach we are to first clean our lives before we are forgiven. Quite the opposite.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45 ESV)
Thus Jesus spoke in response to the self righteous when they condemned him for what was thought to be sinning against the Sabbath. This shows the condition of a person who is trying to clean himself up but have no faith in Jesus. This is so sad and unnecessary for a person to experience in this life but many do who will try to clean themselves to be acceptable to God.
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:8-10 ESV)
We are fully sanctified through the perfect life, innocent suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus for the sins of the human race. This is a gift which is received by trusting in this finished work of Jesus. It never was about cleaning oneself in order to be acceptable to God. Never was it about sacrifice either of produce, meat or time. How do we know we have this promised redemption? By what way do we perceive ourselves as holy?
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV)
This washing, in other scripture, shows we are not cleansing ourselves ritually. We are not showing our faith to others. Those both make baptism our work and takes baptism away from our Lord. When Jesus instituted baptism he promised that through it we have the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit placed on us. We can trust that promise and draw near to God in full assurance having a clean heart created by God and it is our gift through faith.
Let us trust this good news and live in its peace. In the name of Jesus. Amen †