12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth, the needy from among mankind.
When I began to study these verses the second part of verse 12 really stood out -- "not cleansed of their filth." It was apparent to me that all four of these verses were noting things that we do need to be cleansed of; these are sins that we need to ask forgiveness for, and turn away from.
When these are in our lives we need a cleanser, like a kitchen counter top that needs to be cleaned and left spotless and shining. God wants to use us in service, but He can’t effectively use us until we are cleansed from sin and filled with His Spirit. Many people don’t even recognize themselves as sinners. They may think they occasionally do something wrong -- but they don’t see it as a sin against God. Of course, if a person doesn’t believe in God, then they definitely don’t think they have sinned. They may think they have made a mistake but they have certainly don't think they've sinned against anyone.
The Bible has something to say about that, though. Let's look at Romans 3:9-12:
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:As Christians, we know the Person who can help us with this cleansing. Not only do we know Him, but we know that He is willing to help us:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
“When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.” Matthew 8:1-3Just as He healed the leper of his disease, He is willing and able to heal us and cleanse us of our sin.
No matter how we have sinned, He loves us and will cleanse us!
We also know the process of cleansing. Initially, we are cleansed from our sins when we confess Christ and surrender to Him in faith and obedience. But what if we sin after we confess Christ and start that new life? What can we do then?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9You see, if we needed to go through the whole process again, some of us (me included) would be constantly needing to confess faith and be baptized, and I guess for me it would seem like there was a pool party every day -- I have to ask Him to forgive me for so many things! But all we have to do whenever we recognize that we've sinned, is bow our heads and confess to Him; we must repent (turn away) from the sin, and move forward from there. Satan has an impressive toolkit, you know, and one of his tools is to get us to think that we are not forgiven, not worthy to be a child of the King. So it's important not to wallow in it -- but to accept that He can forgive us and purify us, like in the verse above!
Why all this talk about cleansing? Why is cleansing necessary? Hmmm, I think Paul tells us, or actually we can listen in to his words to Timothy long ago:
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. II Timothy 2:20-21
Do we long to be used of God? To do a work for His kingdom? Then we need to be certain that we are cleansed and ready for the Holy Spirit to guide us . . . then we can be holy, and useful to the Master!