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Clean All Over

Clean All Over

       Many a young boy has declared they are clean, to which their mother would check behind the ears or other places to ensure this to be the case. Most little boys are not fond of baths and getting clean. Nobody wants to be “scrubbed” when they think they are clean enough. I suppose that is why some mother, way back in time, with good intentions, came up with the phrase: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. This phrase was first recorded as being in a sermon in 1778 by John Wesley, but the idea is ancient, having been found in Babylonian and Egyptian religious tracts. (Wikipedia) Both of these points, coupled with the fact that this saying is nowhere found in the Bible, means that God has not coupled physical cleanliness with being godly.

   There is however, a certain repulsiveness to one that is dirty, smelly, and who does not participate in good hygiene. The same is true “spiritually” in the eyes of God when one does not remain “clean”, which means one is not following His Word.   In Luke 11:39 Jesus used the physical washing of one part of the cup and platter and the lack thereof in other parts of it to describe the kind of “filth” which characterized the Pharisees in His day. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. In several other places, He pointed out that they were hypocrites. They were not following God’s Word. Jesus drew the contrast between the Pharisees and His disciples in John 15:3 when He said how His disciples were clean. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  He was not speaking of bodily cleanliness in this situation.      

       Washing has been “symbolic” of cleanliness for many years. Pilate, in an effort to separate himself from the situation in which he cowardly felt he had no options, in Matthew 27:24 made a big production of washing his hands before the people.   When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.   Pilate could not be clean of his part in this by “washing his hands” any more than his claim to be innocent made it so.

     The Bible also uses “wash” and “washed” to indicate a spiritual cleanliness in several places following the beginning New Testament age. As we look to the instructions given to Saul in Acts 22:16 by Ananias, we see it was so that Saul could chose to be clean inside. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.  Then as we read 1Corinthians 6:11 we can see what the Spirit had Paul write regarding the condition these brethren were in following their obedience to the gospel. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. However, if you read vss 9-10 of the same book and chapter it is easy to see how “unclean” these people were before their conversions.   Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  These folks, just like Saul, were “washed” when they were baptized into Christ. When one is baptized into Christ, he or she is as clean as they will ever be.

     This is the idea being conveyed in Psalms 51:2 where the Spirit had the Psalmist express his desire to be “clean all over”. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Then in Psalms 119:9 the Spirit had him write how this can be accomplished. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.   This has been true in the sight of God throughout time as He has directed young men, desiring their devotion and obedience.  

       When it comes down to it, one has to decide which type of “clean” is of most importance to them. In Matthew 15:19-20 Jesus contrasted physical and spiritual cleanliness so we could know the difference. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. 

       There once was a commercial that said: “You’re not fully clean until you’re Zestfully clean”. God’s Word tells us one is not fully clean until you’re “spiritually” clean. Now, that’s clean all over!   Seek to be clean “all over” as God directs in His Word.                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ.


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