What is the difference between forgiveness and cleansing? We know that initially our sins are forgiven on that wonderful day when we have heard the gospel, when we believe the truth, that we are sinners, separated from God and bound for a lost eternity. But we have repented, and believed the gospel, that the Lord Jesus Christ shed his precious blood, and taken upon himself the penalty for sin. That he became the perfect sacrifice for us.. We trust in Him as our Saviour, and by this trusting, we are saved by faith, “not by works that any man should boast.”
But what after this? Romans 6 and 7 tell us that we are no longer slaves to sin, in bondage to sin, and because of the Spirit within, we have the power to overcome sin. Yet, because we are still in this body, Paul says in Romans 7 “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which would not, that I do… I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”.. not that we willfully sin as we did before we were saved, but because we are not yet in our resurrection bodies, and perfected we still do sin.
So then cleansing comes in.. though we are forgiven and heaven bound, we still need cleansing.. not for salvation, but for close fellowship with the Lord. David is our example.. and Psalm 51 was written after his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 1-2 “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” V12 ‘restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
Here is an example from my life.. it shows how believers can be spotted in the world, and need that cleansing power. This example happened on a day when my husband, a machinist (who has since retired) was called into work for an emergency job. He asked me to come with him, and told me to wear old clothes but thinking that someone else might come, and not wanting to be seen in my old jeans, I changed into clean clothes. We also took our little dog. When we got to his job it was nearing sunset, and my place to wait for him was in the lunchroom where the windows overlook the machine shop.. well, that lunchroom was filthy dirty, you can’t imagine, and there were calendars of women all over the walls. So I gave the dog a drink of water, and sat at the very front table to avoid those calendars, and proceeded to open the newspaper where the headline read “No Remorse”. By this time the sun had gone down and it was getting dark. I started watching husband through the window beside the table while holding the dog. After a time I looked down to change position and saw, to my amazement, that my shirt was becoming spotted with a combination of dirt and grease! How could this be? And then of course the answer, the dog picked up dirt standing on the floor when he had his drink, and transferred the dirt to my clean shirt. Well, with this I went downstairs and husband found a chair for me to sit on while he finished his job, upon which he washed his hands and we left.
But this was a real lesson for me. The darkening hour, the calendars, the headline, and soon, even though I thought I was far enough away from those awful pictures, I was “spotted” .. I was in the world, and showing signs of being there. But praise the Lord, we are “washed in his blood” and “according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration”.. we are no longer “of the world” and are children of light..
When we do become “spotted”, when we do commit sins, what we need do is, 1 John 1:8-9 “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Christian, is there something you need cleansing from? go to the Lord now, be cleansed, and restored to close fellowship with Him.
2 Peter 3:13-14 “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Psalm 51: 2, 10,15,17 “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Create me in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.