Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 7: 1, K.J.V.
Cleanse is from the Greek katharizo, “purge,” “purify.” Cleanliness is next to godliness. With order, “heaven’s first law,” both operate in the Bible’s heaven for multitudes cling to non-Biblical ideas, popular fables in fact, of heaven,—who are there right now and will be going there, in what state, and when. But “God is not the author of confusion.” 1 Cor. 14: 33.
God strictly required cleanliness of all priests and people throughout the camp wherever they were, including the tents of the armies. He “who changeth not” and “is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Mal. 3: 6; Heb. 13:8), requires no less of His people today than of ancient Israel—physically, more so, intrinsically, spiritually, for God “looketh upon the heart” while men “looketh on the outward appearance.” 1 Sam. 16: 7.
The purpose of this cleansing is for “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” After participating in His fourth and last Passover (the first of the annual Jewish dispensation festivals) with His Twelve original disciples just prior to His betrayal and Passion thereafter in the spring of A.D. 31, Jesus, “standing at the point of transition between the two economies and their two great festivals,” instituted the New Testament Lord’s Supper service. “He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as the Sin-Offering, and thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death.
He instituted in its place the service that was to be a memorial of His great sacrifice. The national Passover festival was to pass away forever. The service which He established was to be observed by all His true followers in all lands and throughout all ages” till He comes.” (DA 652). Jesus introduced foot-washing to the Twelve, who, at that point were secretly nursing “filthiness of the spirit” towards one another. Foot-washing was the essential preparatory service before partaking of the unleavened bread and unfermented wine, emblems of Christ’s broken body and spilled blood, illustrating a higher cleansing—the purging of their secret thoughts and feelings of envy, suspicion, pride, ambition, etc.
The Two Great Memorials. The New Testament memorial of His all-efficacious atoning sacrifice consummated at Calvary as the Lamb of God is the Lord’s Supper service, conducted as He instructed. The keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath is the weekly memorial of His six-day work of creating heaven and earth by the spoken Word. Both make Him alone worthy of any and all worship—the highest form of which is willing, joyful obedience coming from the heart, the seat of all affections, to all His commandments. Creation and Redemption are the twin peaks of the everlasting Gospel.
All who have accustomed themselves to keeping their possessions and bodies clean understand what cleansing is and takes. And yet it still amazes them how much dust and dirt manage to find their way into the nooks, crevices, and corners of their homes, appliances, vehicles, even cups and glasses in spite of being stored away in a cupboard, etc. Keeping clean is not merely dusting off and maintaining an outward appearance and sheen but clean inside out. To car enthusiasts it’s called detailing.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom we love “in spirit and in truth” is the Creator and Savior concerned with the minutest details, as every Christian scientist, doctor, and all Bible students who understand basic physiology know and marvel at. “We are fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Ps. 139: 14. “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12: 7.
In the books of heaven there is only one thing that defiles a man—willful sin, which is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4)—which originates in the unsanctified heart. Even as Christ wept bitterly over His chosen people and city for willfully and persistently rejecting Him (Matt. 23: 37-39; 24; John 1: 10-12), the weeping prophet declares to all: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” Jer. 17: 9, 10.
Jesus repeated this fundamental truth in reply to the Pharisees’ legalistic emphasis on their man-made multitudinous ceremonial, outward physical cleansing laws of which His own disciples had not yet unlearned: “So Jesus said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” Matt. 15: 16-19. Again, He declared: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt. 12: 34-37.
To those of foul language, lying lips, speaking abominations and blasphemies, “potty-mouthed,” as they say, all coming from a deceitful, defiled heart, Christ still mercifully offers His cleansing mouthwash: “My son, give Me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe My ways.”Prov. 23: 26. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, and with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.” “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Cor. 3: 17, 17. See also 6: 19, 20.
In seven important statements, many of which we quoted in the past, Ellen G. White summarizes the grand and solemn nature of the work to be fully accomplished individually on earth, simultaneous to Christ’s currently ongoing closing work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary and pre-advent judgment, begun in 1844.
These can only be accomplished through the aid of heavenly agencies—the Holy Spirit and the angels, Christ’s ministering spirits with our penitent, humble, willing, and full co-operation in the work of sanctification under the power of the Early Rain. All must be done during our individual probation time, while still alive and our minds rational. Until probation closes, His invitation is still extended to all “who hath ears to hear”: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isa. 1:18.
1. “Are we emptying our hearts of all selfishness and cleansing them, preparatory to receiving the latter rain from heaven?”- RH Dec. 12, 1908; RH Oct. 12, 1961.
2. “The refreshing [in the latter rain] or the power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” – Vol. 1, Testimonies, p. 619.
3. “I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action.” – Early Writings, p. 71.
4. “May the Lord help His people to cleanse the soul temple from every defilement, and to maintain such a close connection with Him that they may be partakers of the Latter Rain when it shall be poured out.” – 6BC 1055; RH July 20, 1886.
5. “Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the Latter Rain will fall upon us as the Early Rain fell upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost.” – Vol. 5, Testimonies, p. 214.
6. “Those who come up to every point, and stand the test, and overcome, be the price of what it may, have heard the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the Latter Rain .“ – Vol. 1, Testimonies, pp. 187, 188.
7. “Today you are to have your vessel [body, mind, and spirit] purified that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the Latter Rain; for the Latter Rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”- RH March 22, 1892; Evangelism, p. 702; Selected Messages, vol. 1 pp. 190, 192.
(Continued next week)