Defeating Our Human Nature (Part 4. Recurring Spiritual Uncleanness)
Although this is part of a series, this is a Complete study on its own. (4 of 18 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture quotes are mine. *
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God?" (Micah 6:8)
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...
...For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be of led the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such things there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26)
Welcome back to our series on Defeating Our Human Nature!
I cherish the memories of my children as babies and hold them dear in my heart. I remember their first steps and the many failed attempts at walking and feeding themselves that always ended up with a face full of dirt or slimy food of some sort all over their faces. I would pick them out of that mess, clean them up, and, I swear, I would not have blinked my eyes twice and they were just as filthy as if I had not cleaned them at all. Children love dirt and mess. They love to "put themselves into" everything they try to do. Children do not know any better. In the exploration of all sorts of tactile sensations for the first time, they are finding out what is sticky, what is slippery, what is sweet, and what is good and what is bad to eat. They have no boundaries, no way to comprehend or measure behavior. They have no concept of dirty or clean, good or evil, holiness or sin. But then children grow up and one would assume that they would have learned that to be holy and Godly is better than being unclean.
We have been exploring in depth the passage of Scripture warning of the dangers of not living with Holy Spirit guidance. In part 1, we drew the distinction between walking in the Spirit and that of anyone living a life of fulfilling the lust of the flesh. In part 2, we spoke of the first of 17 works of the flesh that Paul said would result from Godless living, namely adultery. It was stated that adultery has deep spiritual connotations of betrayal. In part 3, we considered the term fornication and how devastating it is on the sinner who commits it, and on all those around that sinner who are hurt by it as well.
This is the fourth of the series and we will consider the work of the flesh the apostle Paul referred to as uncleanness.
For the majority of the world, earth is their home and they are totally used to it. This may sound like a funny statement, but I'm serious. Christians who read and know their Bible know they have another home that is not of this world. The majority of the world though, believe that leaving this ball of dirt means they will cease to exist. Going along with this theory is the theory that their bodies, once they are dead, will always be in the ground, and that there is no God to hold them accountable for anything.
I was watching the movie "Paul" the other day. It seemed to me to be a summation of the world's attitude toward uncleanness and godlessness and of life in general. Permit me to sum up the storyline premise of the movie: "There once was an alien who knew the truth about the universe. Evolution was fact and the most powerful force anywhere. There is no God, no sin; none of the many unscientific, fanatical, religious beliefs that every world has in their arsenal of foolish legends. This life is all there is, and thus you must live and catch every good pleasurable moment in time. Live your life like a firecracker, the bigger the boom at the end, the better the life you've lived."
As I sat and watched this movie, enjoying its humor and the wise-cracking lines of the characters, I wondered how many people were believing the message of the movie, and not watching it as was I, as an entertaining bit of fiction. I wondered how many were pulled to memories of all the times they got wasted, drunk, high, arrested, had sex without commitment or rebelled against authority. I wondered if they were giving sighs because, they too, miss those times and would rejoin that type of living in a heartbeat if the circumstances of their lives were different. I wondered how many Christians were sighing as well.
Sin is fun - for a season...
The Human Condition
Paul (the apostle, not the alien) referred to a sin in his list of works of the flesh called uncleanness. This word was used to describe a general propensity in the sin nature to endeavor to be unholy, willfully defiled. The word in the original Greek is akatharsia (ak-ath-ar-see'-ah) and means "impurity." Its root word is akathartos (ak-ath'-ar tos) and means "foul, unclean, demon empowered and possessed." The basic idea is that a sinner finds something that both pleases him and defiles him at the same time and proceeds to jump in with both feet, hoping never to cease being involved with it until the day he dies. Both words connote the use of some putrid, stinking, waste product of some sort, a thing of such distaste or loathing that anyone should have no trouble knowing it belongs a great distance from them or behind some barrier of safety and hygienic security.
Paul lived in a culture highly influenced by Greek and Roman experience. The people at that time believed that they were at the mercy of the gods that would snuff out their tiny lives in a heartbeat. The gods were vindictive, envious, and would intervene in the lives of humans for their own purposes that almost always worked to the mortal's hurt. If "the gods" left a person alone, Roman soldiers, bandits, tax collectors, highwaymen or some other source or calamity, could and would, steal whatever a man had worked for, and built for his family. Many chose not to have families at all but to live for the moment and grab all the pleasure life could offer before they died. The belief was certainly all around that they should throw themselves into everything, (like the baby in the picture above); experiment with every act called pleasure, delve into every corner of the human imagination for inspiration.
Many chose to add mysticism to acts done for hedonistic pleasure, thus adding an occultic, other-worldly type influence which not only hightened their own pleasure but grabbed the attention of others and caused them to join in group activities that deepened single acts to that of lifestyles of mob mentality. People with money used the money to make a statement with their lives so others would say "he knew how to live." Finding ways to stay in the moment of heightened pleasure were constantly explored. Many would eat until they could hold no more and then visit a place designed to purge themselves of the food (vomit) and then return to do it all over again. Others decided to mix their religion and sex and visit, on a regular basis the temple prostitutes or to volunteer to worship there to please whichever god they thought to please. Indeed, sexual activity had no right or wrong. No family boundaries, no sense of propriety. Men routinely divorced wives and then used their daughters to supply them sons to work the land for them. Homosexuality was not only practiced, but in Greek culture was praised by many as a holier union than traditional sex between a husband and wife. Idolatry was everywhere. Artisans were commissioned to make little statues that soldiers mounted on chariots to ride with them to battle, they had shrines in their homes and had gardens in which to go and worship with orgies that lasted sometimes for days. Romans had their Colosseum where people could explore the range of their blood-lust and enjoy the tearing of human beings apart by sword, pulling of them apart by horses and the famous lion and tiger feasts of that time with which most people are familiar. Opportunities to jump into uncleanness were everywhere.
Because we are sinners, born in sin, raised in sin, with sin in our culture, in our history, we don't see the world as so bad. We see the simple beauty in the baby with dirty hands and we decide that dirty is not so bad for everyone. We hear all the time of people that are leading quiet lives being encouraged to "go out" and "live." We hear them told that they only live once and they must "grab all the gusto they can" and "do what feels good." But acceptable uncleanness is mere illusion.
The farmer that goes out to his field and thankfully examines hands-full of dirt is one thing but you don't want to see him taking off his clothes and rolling in the dung pile. This is the illustration that suits this example. Seeing the farmer holding the rich soil in his hands and thanking God for it is proper. The land was what God used to give him food all year. His hard work of breaking up the soil and fertilizing it, of sowing seeds and harvesting was an honorable, good living. Now take the same farmer, the same piece of tilled land, the same manure and change the mental attitude and behavior. What if the farmer decides that his desire is to fully know his land, so to fill his senses and to really "experience the land" he has to touch it, roll in it, eat it, make love to it? Now we are in the ballpark of pursuing uncleanness. The imagination is used to turn things that otherwise would not be improper or sinful into something disgusting in the eyes of God. The definition of uncleanness also gives a hint that the ol' farmer's imagination may have had help in just how to "experience the land." Demons are real and in fact do influence and will aid the sinful imagination, the desire to be unclean.
Sin has cursed everything in our world. It has messed us up and messed up the nature of our planet. Even animals and plant-life are cursed because of our sin that is present here. Why, the very dirt is cursed.
Under the Law a person that became "unclean" by touching a dead body, or by sinning some sin that they already confessed to God, would still be required to offer a lamb "without spot or blemish" for his sin. Remember animals do not sin, as do people. They obey God and are driven by instinct, but sin is in this world and they are on this cursed earth, as are we. Many are born with spots and defects. Their blood, though not a permanent solution, temporarily covered the sins of the human. (Num. 6:14) Blood of an innocent animal, one with no visible physical defects, was as close to holy blood as they could get at that time. This was commanded by God because He was getting people ready to receive the real Lamb of God, the One "without spot or blemish" Jesus Christ, that would give His blood to take away the sin of the world.
"Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': Cursed is the ground for your sake." (Genesis 3:17a)
"And he shall present his offering to the LORD: one male lamb in its first year without blemish as a burnt offering [representing worship of God], one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish as a sin offering [representing repentance and covering for their sin], one ram without blemish as a peace offering [representing the restored peace between God and sinful man]." (Numbers 6:14)
"Therefore not even the first covenant [the covenant with Israel before Christ] was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats [a temporary remission of sin], with water [representing cleansing and the Living Water, Jesus], scarlet wool [the color red representing the blood of the Lamb, and wool representing the same], and hyssop [a reminder of the time God passed over and "covered" Israel's sin in Egypt] and sprinkled both the book itself [scroll of the Law] and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.' Then likewise he [the high priest who represents Christ, our high priest] sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle [representing our hearts where the Holy Spirit dwells when a person is saved] and all the vessels of the ministry." (Hebrews 9:18-22)
Each of these things were a picture for anyone looking, to show the way to the Messiah, who would come into this unclean, cursed, sin-ridden world.
As soon as God condescends to come to us in any form, it is He that endures the distasteful state of our uncleanness and it is His holiness that overcomes our sin. Watch what happens to the curse existing on the piece of ground whereon stood the burning bush containing God's presence speaking to Moses:
"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord [O.T. term for manifestations of God to man] appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.' So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.' Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place [because of God's holiness, man's sin separates him from God]. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground' [sandals have carried him through this unclean world and represents sin]." (Exodus 3:1-5)
God's presence was stronger than the curse on the ground. His holiness was stronger than the sin of Moses. Moses was able to stand on holy ground because God caused a temporary cover for his sin, a barrier where God could stand in its presence without offending His own holiness. Moses then could bear being in God's presence, in the pureness of God's holiness.
And even with the cover, there was a point where Moses could not pass. The Scripture says no man has been to heaven because no sinning man "can see God and live." This distance was there because Moses was not yet redeemed totally from sin, merely cleansed for this meeting with God. God declared the ground holy and able to tolerate the presence of sinful Moses standing before Him, unclean yet declared (for the moment) free from uncleanness. The same thing happened to Joshua:
"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, 'Are You for us or for our adversaries?' So He said, 'No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, [*we know this is not an angel because angels never welcome worship] and said to Him, 'What does my LORD say to His servant?' Then the Commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua,'Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy. And Joshua did so." (Joshua 5:13-15; compare *Rev. 22:9)
Did you see the effect of God on that which is unclean? For the time that God's presence was there, it was holy ground and His presence cleansed all uncleanness away. His presence was necessary for sin to be covered, for cleanliness to be declared.
On the day of creation, all was clean, even Satan was clean until he became lifted up and "sin was found in him." (Eze. 28:14-15) God placed within all his thinking creatures, the quality of volition, the ability to choose and Satan's choice was made. He went forth to bring sin to the rest of creation. With sublty he tempted Eve, convincing her that if she just took one bite of the piece of fruit from that one forbidden tree, her mind would be opened and she would be "like God, knowing good and bad." (Gen. 3) So from the devil, sin spread to 1/3 of the other angels (now called demons), then to mankind, first to Eve who then gave it to her husband who ate, knowing fully that he was rebelling against God. Then the uncleanness spread to the planet and the earth was cursed. Like some festering cancer, sin spread and here we are, born in the midst of this uncleanness, each of us needing redemption. Where shall we get clean if everything in our sphere of existence is defiled? I believe you know the answer to that... the LORD must redeem us by making an appearance. This was done when Jesus Christ came to earth as a human himself, but born not of sinful Adam, but by the power of God's Holy Spirit. (As was said in the first installment of this series, the gene for blood is in the male's DNA and Jesus had no human father. The DNA was from God.) Jesus Christ was born sinless, not under Adam's curse, all God and all man at the same time (known in theology as the hypostatic union). The sinless Lamb was here to fulfill all those "shadows of things to come" put forth in the old covenant with Israel. All of those innocent lambs that died foreshadowed Jesus. All that animal blood used to temporarily cover sins symbolically pointed to Jesus. His blood was now going to be shed for the world, Jesus was going to die.
Everyone knows Jesus was nailed to a cross. But did you know that he was beaten with the cat-o'-nine-tails, a whip with pieces of metal and glass woven into it, which tore off nearly every square inch of his skin? Physicians today say that in the conditions that are described in Christ's crucifixion, Jesus would have effectively been exsanguinated, leaving virtually no blood left in His body at all when removed from the cross. It was all there, poured out for you and for me upon the ground, just like the priests used to pour out the blood on the ground to God next to the alter of sacrifice. The ground, while God was manifested there (like at the burning bush) was holy ground. Jesus came to save sinning humanity. All who turn to God as Savior can avail themselves of the value of this shed blood of God. The Blood of Christ "cleanses us from all sin!"
Trusting and following Jesus will save the sinning soul.
Each person alive today travels down a road. Though people are as different as snowflakes in uniqueness, all are born in uncleanness. All are doomed, condemned. So what did Jesus' death, burial and resurrection do for mankind?
Let's use the illustration of the road. Each person walks this life down the same path that leads to destruction and it is wide and familiar and many times a very comfortable way to live. Picture, if you will, a road and in the distance you can see that it ends. You see it ends for everyone. All of a sudden you see a Man standing on the side of the road and He has His pierced hand out, begging you to listen to what He has to say. He is frantically pointing to the end of the road, warning everyone about what happens when each gets to that point.
The road is filled with people that seem oblivious to where they are headed. They don't care what is at the end of the road. They don't care that what is there is hell, the wages earned for the sins committed while on the road. They cannot help but sin, it is in their nature, they are in these fleshly bodies, therefore, they cannot help but go to hell. They are condemned. This is a very bleak picture, yet it is true.
God is loving and kind and has given us a chance to escape this fate. He stands on the roadside and beckons each person personally, to come off the road to a path that follows Jesus. A road made exclusively for one person. He offers this same escape to every man, woman, and child of age to understand. (And because of His great love babies are declared righteous without having to understand anything.) You may remember one of the classic "Twilight Zone" episode where the lady sees a man on the road every time she stops her car while on a trip. She knows she must get away from him but every time she looks over she sees him on the side of the road beckoning. In this same way, Jesus stands on the side of the road and beckons. Only in this case, the Man is not Death but is Life, and most people flee in the very same way!
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth [crucifixion] will draw all people to Myself." (John 12:32)
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
"As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understands; there is none that seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.'" (Romans 3:10-13)
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)
The person that begins to listen and believe moves to the side of this life and steps off into a new beginning, a new life as if born again. God's love is so amazing. It does not cease after a person begins life walking the road of salvation. God has given us a relief from all the filth that weighs us down and clouds our thinking. Remember, the flesh still wants to run your life right into the ground. It still wants to own your body until your body is all used up, burnt out. God now inhabits the heart of the person that received Him as Savior and His presence is always with them. The person is declared "holy ground" because the Holy Spirit lives in that person's heart. Instead of remaining a required distance away, God has, in a sense, physically joined with us. He indwells our heart and we are immersed into His body. But the living body has yet to be redeemed and still dwells amongst a people cursed, on a planet cursed.
"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God,, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Because of the unredeemed body of flesh that houses our redeemed spirit and soul, we still feel the pull to sin. God does not ever leave us after He makes us His temple in which to reside, but we do have to fight a spiritual fight against our own flesh.
"But I see another law in my members [in his fleshly body], warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23)
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever." (John 14:16)
Now at this point many people get confused as to salvation's permanence and the security of the believer. I will try to go slowly and in steps so all can follow.
When we cry out to God to save us, our spirit that was "dead" (cut off from Him), God connects to Him permanently, always and forever.
"For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3)
He also inhabits, indwells our heart, permanently, always and forever. But in our flesh (which is not yet redeemed) we are sinners, and sometimes we choose to bring sin into our minds and bodies.
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2)
God's holiness demands distance from sin.
When we sin, God will immediately warn and reprove us. That is one mark of genuine salvation, when God reproves us. If we listen, good; we repent, forsake and continue to grow stronger as we age in the Lord.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Hebrews 12:8)
Sometimes people don't repent right away or they jump into something that requires God to put distance between He and the person, until the person gets his heart right and cleans up his mind and stops sinning with his body. Just like Moses could come only so far because a distance had to be maintained between God and sin, God will withdraw fellowship from the person when that person purposely defiles himself. God withdraws fellowship, not residence.
What does that mean? It means that the person will immediately lose his joy, for starters. It means that when a genuinely saved person prays that is rebelling against God and regarding sin in his heart, the prayers will feel like they are bouncing off the ceiling. The person will feel estranged from God, and it will hurt. (If it does not hurt, the person should examine their salvation to see if it was genuine.) God also arranges the person to experience "chastisement" because God loves His own and wants him to do right. This may be in the form of "little bumps" in the road, sometimes big bumps, or even obstructions to hold him there, to teach him. This does not mean the person loses their salvation which "is hidden with Christ in God."
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear." (Psalm 66:18)
"For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." (Hebrews 12:6)
Cleaning Away The Uncleanness Of This World
The incarnation of Jesus marked a fulfillment of the Original Covenant with Israel. The Lamb had come and all the sacrifices of bulls and goats had come to fulfillment in that One sacrifice. No longer would the blood of bulls and goats cleanse the sinner of any sin because Blood was given that was a permanent solution to sin. Under the Original covenant belief and faith in the Messiah to come justified a man to go to Paradise. When Jesus came, circumstances changed, to now cling to the original temporary fix of animal blood was rejecting the Lamb that the Law foretold. All the ordinances of the Law were nailed to the cross with Jesus.
"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands [also part of the original covenant but now fulfilled in Christ] by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ [by identifying with Jesus we are fulfilling the original covenant, leaving a shadow and clinging to reality], buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses [uncleanness], having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:11-14)
This Scripture clearly speaks of two things that Christ did when He came and died on the cross of Calvary. The first was to wipe away all sin and uncleanness from all who would come to Him in faith, and with that, remove the curse of sin on the whole world. The second thing that would happen is that the original covenant that God had with Israel and all the foreshadowed prophecies about Messiah would be fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ and thus move all believers into a new Covenant of Faith. Within this covenant of faith is the opportunity for all the world to be saved, to the "Jew first and also to the Greek" (Gentiles). This Jewish Messiah came to save the whole world from uncleanness!
Jesus sat with His apostles on the night that He was to be killed. He had said many times that He was going to die to fix all the troubles in the world. But the apostles did not quite understand. With each day that passed, the cross got closer and they began to fear that He would actually be taken from them. So many things were blurry to their understanding. Suddenly, Jesus did something strange. He took off his outer cloak and girded Himself with a towel in the custom of a house servant and began to wash the disciples feet. Here is the whole account so you can picture the events as they occurred.
"Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son to betray Him, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God, and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciple's feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, 'Lord are You washing my feet?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.' Peter said to Him, 'You shall never wash my feet!' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.' Simon Peter said to Him, 'Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean [the disciples], but not all of you [Judas].' For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, 'You are not all clean.' So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; neither he that is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'" (John 13:1-17)
You must understand, in the culture of the time, people wore sandals as standard footware. There was no sidewalks, paved roads, or neat paths to walk, in which a person could keep their feet in some sort of pristine condition. Instead there was dusty trails, mud puddles, dirt, grime, and feces from all sorts of animals (get the picture?)... major uncleanness- through which the sandaled feet moved and which was tracked into the home. It was the job of the lowest of the household staff to get water and remove whatever disgusting mess clung to the feet of members of the household and of guests so that the house did not get defiled from the uncleanness of the world.
Jesus got His towel and water basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, one by one. I'm sure at this point, there was much confusion in each person there. The person that was designated the lowest servant at the feast had already washed the feet of all in attendance. Why was Jesus doing it again?
Jesus was Lord and the disciples knew that He had "come out from God." I'm sure some were thinking, "My feet are clean enough." Others may have thought, "This too, is a parable that the Master is teaching."
But Peter, who had the tendency to voice all his heart, was indignant. His thinking is quite apparent, "The Son of God is not washing my feet! It is beneath Him! I should be washing His feet." What Peter said was, "You shall never wash my feet!" Many put Peter down because of this statement. I say that Peter was showing that he respected Jesus as God and saw himself unworthy to receive this service from his King. Jesus' answer must have floored him. "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Peter was certainly not expecting this. Now he knew this act had a deeper meaning than a simple act of humility or something about serving others (although this was part of the lesson). No, Jesus said, "If I don't wash you, you have no part with Me." In other words, Jesus washing Peter clean must occur or he will not enter with Christ into the kingdom.
I think Peter began to understand at this point. The concept of washing was about the cleansing away of sin and declaring a person forgiven, free from sin. With this understanding, Peter's mind then considered the uncleanness that was in the rest of his makeup. Not only had his feet been dirty with the world's filth but also the things he'd done (with his hands), and the things he'd thought (with his mind). He declared, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
So here comes the second point of the lesson. Jesus told him that he already was clean, that he had been cleansed by faith in the blood of the Lamb. Jesus said, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean." Jesus was saying that a person that has faith in the Son has been declared positionally clean but the tendency to sin still lives in the flesh and the filth of the world will stick to their feet from time to time. They will choose to sin from time to time as they walk amongst the uncleanness of this world. They needed to stop and consider what uncleanness had adhered to them.
We too, must consider this. As we walk through this life we may find the filth of this world sticking to us. It is then up to us to use the principle of *1 John 1:9 to wash the filthiness away.
*"If we confess our sins [to Jesus], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Finally we see the third and last part of this lesson. He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?" What had he done? Well, He had shown them that it is important that they be clean. He spoke of being positionally clean from the condition of sin, "he who is bathed" and also clean from day-to-day sins through confession, wash "their feet." What else had He shown them? He gave them an example that if their King was willing to get down and clean their feet that they should not be hesitant for any reason to reach down and help others get clean. The brother or sister that you come across that is sinning must be reproved in love and restored. The lost person that you meet that is wallowing in sin, you must not hesitate to give them the truth about sin and help any who would receive it to their feet and show them how to be clean.
What about the person that plunges headlong into uncleanness and you don't see him even try to get up out of it? Well, if that person truly knows Jesus he needs to be reminded how disgusted God is at a person that is clean that chooses to go back to the filth. It is possible that the person who does this was never "in Christ" but was just playing church for a time. This person is described as having been drawn away from their lifestyle to Christ as a lifestyle for a brief time. They consider the life as a Christian and try it out but never really receive Christ as Savior so go back to their old ways of living. This person is described in Scripture as being worse than a dog going back to consume its own vomit or a pig that is cleaned off to rolling in the mud.
"But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'A dog returns to his own vomit' and 'a sow having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:18-22)
Keep praying for such a person. Do what you can, if you can, being careful that you too, do not fall into the same practices.
Do you see this picture? Do you feel like you are being buried by life, by sin, by things that would choke the life out of you? It may be that you need a hand. Let me tell you about the Man Jesus. He was born of a virgin, without sin. He came out from God and became human for one reason, to seek and to save the lost. He is the one God and put on human flesh so that He could bleed and die on Calvary's cross.
Why would He do that? Well, I have to be honest with you. You and I were born with a problem. Our ancestors Adam and Eve sinned and fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. They became unclean and an unclean person cannot have "clean" babies. A sinner cannot birth a person that does not sin because we all are children of the sinner Adam. We are all condemned because we all fall short of God's minimum requirements to get into heaven
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12)
Jesus was the Lamb "without spot or blemish" that was killed for the sins of everyone including me and you. He was tortured on a cross, died, buried in a tomb and in three days rose from the dead. He offers to pay the sin debt for you so you don't have to pay it yourself. If you die in your sins, that is exactly what you will have to do. Don't let that happen. The debt has already been paid. Turn to Jesus and let your debt get wiped clean. Don't let yourself die in uncleanness. Pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner because I feel the weight of my sin upon me. I believe that You are God in human flesh who died for me. Jesus please forgive me of my sin and save me. I turn from my path and way of life and turn to You, the only way of salvation. I believe You died for me and that You were buried for me and that You rose for me. I trust You and I promise to follow You for the rest of my life. I pray this in the holy name of Jesus. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: