Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? Proverbs 21:27
A few months ago, I left a stain on a pullover sit for too long, and it has now become part of the pullover. This is how stains work. Being on the front, It is obvious to all. Therefore the pullover is now rendered B Grade, to be worn around the house, on a bushwalk or Bunnings. It no longer holds restaurant, theatre, or party grade integrity unless I conceal the stain with a coat. As regrettable as it was, I found numerous wonder soaps could not remove the stain.
In our first key verse, Paul writes his second letter to the church at Corinth, encouraging them to rid themselves of such stains of the heart. He wisely adds "let us", showing that he is not immune to the sins which spot the very garments of righteousness we wear.
Paul implores us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of both flesh and spirit—our thoughts and actions, those activities which render us guilty before God. Jesus said to those he healed, "go and sin no more." Yet, how many times after salvation do people knowingly involve themselves in sins of both body and heart?
Paul places much responsibility on believers. He shows us we make decisions that get us stained, and therefore we need to make decisions to get us unstained. We allowed evil to enter and need to evict it. We are to return to the path of holiness before God with reverent fear, not casual repentance. Some people blame God for their decisions to sin when it really comes down to their own choice.
I was upset about my pullover. It was expensive, and I loved it. Every time I grab it from the cupboard, the stark reminder is always in front of me. Yet, it caused me to imagine God looking at stains in my life over the years and how long it took me to remove some of them. The stain on my jumper won't come out. But the filthiness of the flesh and spirit can be removed quickly and simply by earnest repentance.
Malachi 3:2-3 speaks of the refining fire of the Lord's purification. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Our stains must not remain. The cleansing of true repentance will remove any taint of thought or deed. From there, we keep our spiritual armour on, including the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness.
Our second key verse of Proverbs 21:27 shows us that sin can be as a sacrifice to another god. This is why God calls it an abomination. But how much more when we have a guilty mind directing the sin? Jesus Christ died for this very problem of sin. The law highlights our sin, and the blood of Jesus removes it.
How wonderful to be cleansed by the fuller's soap of true repentance. To be purged of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit: to walk in innocency of mind where evil cannot penetrate because the sign clearly says No Entry to Sin.
Do we use the cleansing power of repentance correctly, making a personal stand against the wiles of Satan? Or do we re-stain our garments by holding further sacrifices of abomination—returning to our sin? We can never perfect holiness in the fear of God if we have no fear or reverence in the first place—if we have no fear of being locked out as were the foolish virgins. (Matthew 25:10-12).
God is calling us to higher ground. It is here the mind and body do not get close to the gutter or sidewalk filth being splashed with the stains we ourselves create.
Today's prayer: Heavenly Father, it is with great humility and awe that I come before you today. I have stained my garments many times in may ways, and seek your forgiveness.
Photo by Sanjog Timsina