Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
Knowing the truths in the Bible related to what transpired at our salvation is the solid foundation for our Christian life. In a previous post, we discussed the truth of God’s forgiveness. Seeing the thoroughness of God’s forgiveness of our sins reassures us and gives us a way to go on.
In this post we’ll discuss God’s cleansing of our sins. God’s cleansing certainly applies to our experience after we’re saved, but we’ll focus here on the cleansing we received when we were saved.
Why God’s cleansing is needed
Since God’s forgiveness of our sins is so thorough, why do we need cleansing? Although God’s forgiveness abolished our record of sin and freed us from the penalty of sins, the stains of sin remained with us.
Before we were saved, we were filthy before God in our speech, our actions, and the thoughts of our heart. Our mouth was unclean with utterances like cursing, lies, obscenities, slander, and hateful expressions. We spoke this way because our heart was unclean, for Matthew 12:34 says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Our deeds were filthy, and Paul states in Romans 6:19 that we presented the members of our body “as slaves to uncleanness.”
Not only so, in God’s eyes even our good works were filthy, for Isaiah 64:6 tells us “All of us became like him who is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are like a soiled garment.”
Sin left its ugly stain on us. We desperately needed God’s cleansing!
When did God cleanse away our sins?
The moment we believed, God both forgave us and cleansed us, as we see in 1 John 1:9:
“He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness.”
God’s cleansing accompanies his forgiveness. We never have to wonder whether God still sees the stain of sin on us. He washed it away.
How effective is God’s cleansing?
We might wonder, is it possible that all the stains of my sins were washed away? Does any tinge remain with me?
Two verses in the Old Testament show us the power of God’s cleansing:
Psalm 51:7—“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”
Isaiah 1:18—“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
God washes away the stains from our sinful past so absolutely that we’re made as white as snow and as wool, which are not dyed white but naturally white. God cleanses the traces of sin from us so deeply, we’re as clean and white as if we had never sinned! His cleansing is utterly effective.
How God cleanses us
God cleanses us in two ways.
1. By the blood of Jesus—to cleanse us of our behavior and deeds
Hebrews 1:3, tells us Jesus, “having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Jesus accomplished this purification by shedding His blood on the cross. When we believe in Him, that purification of sins becomes ours, and the stains of our sins are cleansed away from us.
The blood of Jesus cleanses even our conscience, the leading part of our human spirit. Hebrews 9:14 says,
“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Previously, our conscience was defiled with sins. But God cleanses our conscience so it no longer condemns us of our sins, and we can serve our living God.
2. By life—to deliver us from our filthy life and nature
Titus 3:5 says, “Not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
In regeneration we received God’s life, so the washing of regeneration is a washing of life.
The note on regeneration in the New Testament Recovery Version explains this washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which go together:
“… Here it [the Greek word for regeneration] refers to a change from one state to another. Being born again is the commencing of this change. The washing of regeneration begins with our being born again and continues with the renewing of the Holy Spirit as the process of God’s new creation, a process that makes us a new man. It is a kind of reconditioning, remaking, or remodeling, with life. Baptism (Rom. 6:3-5), the putting off of the old man, the putting on of the new man (Eph. 4:22, 24; Col. 3:9-11), and transformation by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) are all related to this wonderful process.”
We’re now in this wonderful process of being washed by the divine life of God and renewed by the Holy Spirit until we become a new creation, a new man. The note continues, explaining what washing and renewing do in us:
“The washing of regeneration purges away all the things of the old nature of our old man, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit imparts something new—the divine essence of the new man—into our being. In this is a passing from our old state into a wholly new one, from the old creation into the status of a new creation. Hence, both the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit are working in us continually throughout our life until the completion of the new creation.”
God’s cleansing is much more than we could have imagined!
Knowing the truth of God’s forgiveness and cleansing
We needn’t be haunted by the sins of our past. The Bible assures us we received the precious blessings of God’s forgiveness and cleansing when we were saved. Being equipped with the knowledge of these blessings unburdens us of lingering fears about our sins. God took care of them all.
How about after we’re saved? We continue to experience God’s forgiveness and cleansing by confessing our sins to Him to restore our fellowship with God. And we can cooperate with His cleansing of our inward nature by His life by contacting Him in our spirit and enjoying His life in the Word.
Praise the Lord for God’s forgiveness and cleansing!
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