One modern “luxury” that I really appreciate is running water and hot water tanks so I can take a shower. I love to feel clean, especially before I go to bed at night. Since we have lots of outdoor work to do at our place, I get dirty and sweaty a lot and may take several showers in one day. My mother-in-law used to tell me I would wear out my skin! I also like to hike, hunt, and cross-country ski, and it feels so good to come home and take a warm shower!
While I enjoy being physically clean, it pales in comparison to the feeling of being “spiritually clean.” All of us know what it is like to feel that sense of having made a bad choice and done a stupid thing, one that violated the character of God, especially if it affected the life of someone else, maybe even a loved one. We hate that feeling of guilt. It makes us feel unclean before God.
It all started in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve made a bad decision and disobeyed a clear command from God, they sensed their guilt and “nakedness” before God. Their response was to sew fig leaves together to cover themselves and they then ran and tried to hide from God (Good luck there!). After God confronted them for their disobedience and pronounced His judgment upon their sin, He clothed them with garments of animal skins to restore them to fellowship with Himself (Gen. 3:16-21).His act also implied the slaying of an innocent animal in order to atone for sin. This set the pattern for all the animal sacrifices and shedding of blood to atone for sin throughout the whole Old Testament period and also looked forward to “The Lamb of God (God Incarnate) who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29 cf Isa. 53:6; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 2:9 I Pet. 2:24). God’s plan was for the shedding of blood to atone for sin and to restore a right relationship with Him both in order to have eternal life and to have daily fellowship with Him. God said, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Lev. 17:11).
People make all sorts of attempts at “sewing fig leaves” to cover up their guilt and feeling of uncleanness, but only God can make us clean through the shed of blood of the Innocent Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. “By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus ‘Christ once for all…having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, (He) sat down at the right hand of God…for by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10-14).
The two Agents that God uses in bringing about the cleansing from sin are the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convict us of our sin and “lostness” and shows us that God the Son took our guilt and was punished on our behalf on the Cross. When we acknowledge our spiritual uncleanness and trust in Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us (put on our account), and we are “clean,” washed in the blood. Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (Jn. 15:3 cf Eph. 5:26). Peter wrote: “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (I Pet. 1:23). Titus adds: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Tit. 3:5).
Having trusted in Christ and been cleansed from the guilt of sin, we are restored to right standing with God (“justified”… Ro. 5:1). But, we still have our old sinful nature and if we don’t “Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16 cf Eph. 5:18), we will still sin and need forgiveness (cleansing) to maintain our joy and our fellowship with God. We don’t need to get saved again. We are only “born again” (Jn. 3:3) once, but we do need forgiveness for our sins as a Christian. When Jesus washed the disciples feet He said, “He who has bathed (been cleansed from sin through faith in Christ) needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you (referring to Judas)” (Jn. 13:10).
When we, as believers, listen to our old sinful nature and sin, we feel very unclean and if we do not confess that sin, we are miserable. We can do all sorts of things, like Adam and Eve tried, to cover up that guilt, but nothing will cleanse us except acknowledging to God that we have sinned and asking for (or thanking Him for) His forgiveness. John, in his gospel and first epistle, encourages us to “Abide” in Christ (Jn. 15:4,5) and not sin (through the power of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Christ, we don’t have to), but “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteousness” (I Jn. 2:1,2). And “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteousness to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9).
You may recall the Old Testament account of when David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then put her husband, Uriah, in a position on the battlefield where he was killed. Until David confessed his sin he was very miserable. He couldn’t sleep and was affected physically as well. He said, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long, For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained…” (Psa. 32:3,4). But then God, in His mercy, sent Nathan to confront David and he confessed his sin, saying: “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin…Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation…” (Psa. 32:5; 51:1-13). David still had to suffer the consequences of his sin, but the guilt and feeling of being “unclean” were gone. David said, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity…” (Psa. 32:1,2).
It is great to feel clean–both physically and spiritually. Have you put your trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life and been cleansed from the guilt of your sin? If so, praise God! If not, you need to!
If you are a believer and have some sin you have not confessed to God, don’t put it off. Don’t wait for a “Nathan” to come and confront you. Just agree with God that what you did was in violation of His character and His purpose for your life, thank Him for His forgiveness through His shed blood and ask the Holy Spirit to again be in control of your life.