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Monday, October 10, 2011

Cleansed by the Word

John 15:3 (ESV)
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.


Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

I find myself drawn closer to the Lord as I listen to His word and allow it to change me. It loosens the filth of my sin and takes it away. The act is very spiritual though not like those who claim to be spiritual but not religious. The word of God cannot be separated from Him. Listening to Him requires the Holy Spirit. The Spirit insists that the relationship with Him  must be pure of heart. I hear better as I am cleansed. The word cleanses me. I see the world with greater clarity because of this relationship. Things become ordered.

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus rather than help her sister, Martha, as she was preparing food. Many of the "Marthas" of the world have never understood that passage when Jesus said that Mary had done what was right in sitting at His feet. They cannot see how that is right because they have never understood the importance of God's word to cleanse and bring us to Him. No one can stand outside of God's word and understand why it was more important to listen than to work. There will be plenty of work to do when the listening is finished.

Each player on the football field listens to the play that is called. Each one has an assignment for that particular play. Each one must know what the play is before he can perform the proper function. Hearing the play called purifies each player for it eliminates the actions of other plays and clarifies the exact action that needs to follow.

Hearing the word of God focuses the person on what he needs to know. It reveals things that need to happen. It loosens the grip of all other possible actions and brings the person to clear thinking of what must be done. It teaches, corrects, admonishes and trains the person to do exactly as God wills.

Jesus cleansed His disciples and cleanses His Church with the word of God. He speaks it still through the Holy Spirit. Yet, it did not cleanse one of His disciples. The action of the Holy Spirit can be resisted or quenched. He can be grieved by people. The presence of His word is not the same as hearing it for faith comes by hearing.

This should tell us a couple of things about our quiet times each day. First, we must know the importance of listening to His word. It should take precedence over the other acts of our day. Second, we should make sure that we are truly listening rather than going through the motions of simply reading the Bible. Then we will see the cleansing effect it has upon us.

2 comments:

Anthony Chia said...

"There will be plenty of work to do when the listening is finished." I am glad you put this in. It is incomplete story to use the story of Mary and Martha, without alluding to there is a time for work. In fact, it is shallow understanding, to attribute the story to say that Jesus was telling believers to just sit at His feet, purportedly to just bask in grace! Perhaps, one day I will put up an article on my blog site, high.expressions (www.high-expressions.blogspot.com) on some of the roles that Mary Magdalene played in the unfolding of the Gospel.

It suffice here to say that Mary's first cleansing took place much earlier than that sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him. It is right to teach the Word cleanses, and to quote John 15:3. Jesus Himself was the Word, the personified Word, then, living and walking among men. And so, Jesus’, the Living Word's first cleansing of Mary was mentioned here:

1 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)

Now, this first and complete cleansing of Mary was also mentioned later in Mark 16:9 – “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week {Resurrection}, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” The "7" in there, signified completeness. When we are with demons (possessed or demonized), we are NOT clean, NOT holy and acceptable unto good works. Jesus cleansed Mary first, and then Mary could serve Him; just in the 2 set of verses, we can see Mary and some of the other women supported Jesus' ministry out of their own means, and Mary became Jesus' no. 1 witness of His resurrection - Mary became Jesus' no. 1 herald of His resurrection. Jesus is no more walking in person on earth as a man, but His Word continues to cleanse us.

Another point to note is that there was a perfect cleansing of Mary in the first instance, and yet there were subsequent cleansings, as for example, in that occasion of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha was busying preparing that which would only satisfy a physical hunger (food). This tells us that we need to be continually be cleansed by the Word of God and through works of the Holy Spirit who was sent to us, in place of the resurrected Christ Jesus. Dare you claim you are perfectly cleansed at all times? We should seek to be perfectly cleansed at all times.

I am NOT necessarily saying there is anything wrong with satisfying a physical hunger, but it was indeed the words of Jesus: Man shall NOT live on bread alone. Are you feeding on spiritual food? Also the next question you have to ask is: What are you cleansed and fed spiritually for? If your answer is "just to bask in grace", you better think again!

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