1999-04-03 - Think Clean
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
I work out a few times a week at a Bally's health club. I run, play racquetball, and use a few of the machines. If I lived in Deerfield Beach, Florida, I might not be a member of the local health club there however. For fear of being sued they have banned soap from the locker room. Not only soap, but also body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream are all banned.
Being clean on the outside is something everyone is rightly concerned about. But being clean on the inside, in our hearts, was what Christ was most concerned about. He chided the Pharisees for their lack of concern with the cleanliness of their own hearts, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee..." Matthew 23:25, 26
The Hebrew word for clean, taher, quoted in the above passage, Psalm 51:10, is one that refers to a ceremonial cleanness. It is like Psalm 19:9, "The fear of the Lord is clean.", or Genesis 35:2, "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean..." These verses have in mind that the religion of the people of God is to be undefiled. It is to be pure.
This standard was not simply an Old Testament idea. It remains true for us today. We are to be clean before God in heart. We must not fool ourselves into thinking we are clean when we are not. Proverbs 16:2 gives a stern warning to us, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord considers the motives." We must be as clean as God would have us be and we must not fool ourselves into thinking we are clean when we are not.
No one is clean who does not have the righteousness of Christ. When we remain in our own righteousness we are as filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6. In Christ the saints have their hearts cleaned and purified from guilt by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, Romans 5:12-21. In this, our minds, hearts, affections, and hands are sanctified by His spirit and grace is implanted into our souls. Being clean has, with it, the great advantage of being blameless and holy.
Having said all that, I still would not join a health club that would not allow me to use soap. But the proper focus for us should be on the cleanliness of our hearts. Are our hearts pure? Are they being purified? These are questions that anyone can ask, but only we ourselves can honestly answer before God.
"You can have forgiven all your sin in half the tick of the clock, and pass from death to life more swiftly than I can utter the words." C. H. Spurgeon
Soli Deo Gloria,