Are You Washed and Cleansed?
The classroom for the children I teach at church is usually called "The Blue Room." The reason for this is pretty obvious when you walk in and see the bright blue walls. The room is also supposed to have a theme. The theme for my room is "Under the Sea." I love the room. I love the color. I love the theme. I often think of the song "I'd like to be under the sea in an octupuses' garden in the shade...." I even find myself humming the old tune sometime when I am in the room all alone. In the room is a lot of fishy sea stuff. People have generously created and donated to the cause. My collection of sea shells from my visits to the ocean through the years is there. Last week a friend gave me muscle shells from the river. Wait a minute can the river be in the same category with under the sea? Sure, why not? Shells are shells. Water is water. Fish are fish. As my friend gave me the bag she explained the reason she hadn't given them sooner. It seems they had been stored for a long time and had been kind of smelly. They had still retained the smell of thier former surroundings. She said she had washed them earlier, but had not cleansed them. Wait a minute washed is cleansed and cleansed is washed right? I asked was there a difference, that is in washing and cleansing. She said, "Yes." I said , "Great, something new to write about."
The shells were beautiful and shiny and looked and smelled clean to me. If they had smelled, as they once did, the clean appearance could have been misleading I suppose. There is of course the old hymn I thought of singing to the shells... "Are you washed in the blood, in the soul cleansing blood of the lamb? Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb? I refrained from that refrain and I suppose the shells were happy.
So what is the difference in washing and cleansing? Wash is defined as to apply water or some other liquid to (something or someone) for the purpose of cleansing. But what if the purpose of the wash isn't fulfilled? What if there is not a cleansing? Cleanse is simply defined as to become clean. Therefore I came to the conclusion there is a difference in washing and cleansing. You can wash and not be completely clean, but you cannot be cleansed without first washing.
The verse below from I Corinthians 6 tells us that not only were we washed, but we were washed clean completely. Therefore we are cleansed which sets us apart. And of course this verse is a reminder to the cleansed to never forget even though we are set apart, we shouldn't forget the miracle (the blood of Jesus Christ) that cleansed the dirt and sin from us. We are cleansed!
And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:11
To be washed is good, but to be cleansed is much better. In II Chronicles we read of a time the Lord healed and pardoned those not properly purified and cleansed who had decided to follow God. Hezekiah prayed for them.
II Chronicles 30:13 And so a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in midspring to celebrate Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 14 They set to work and removed the pagan altars from Jerusalem. They took away all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley. 15 On the appointed day in midspring, one month later than usual, the people slaughtered their Passover lambs. Then the priests and Levites became ashamed, so they purified themselves and brought burnt offerings to the Temple of the LORD. 16 They took their places at the Temple according to the regulations found in the law of Moses, the man of God. The Levites brought the sacrificial blood to the priests, who then sprinkled it on the altar. 17 Since many of the people there had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lambs for them, to set them apart for the LORD. 18 Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to God's laws. For Hezekiah said, "20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah's prayer and healed the people.
This week when we see others washing and choosing to follow our God for the first time, let us remember washing is the first step in the cleansing process. Even though they may not be familiar with all the religious customs and ceremonies, we must look past any lingering smell of their former surroundings. May we pray for them. We are all in this thing together to fulfill God's purpose while we are here.
The prayer of Hezekiah is a good prayer to pray.
May the LORD, who is good, pardon those who decide to follow the LORD, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.
People are people. God is God. He wants to wash and cleanse all, not just a chosen few.
Never forget such were once some of you, but you were washed clean.