The possibility of the believer's cleansing from spiritual defilement and in a manner wholly satisfying to God is comforting and assuring beyond measure. Since sin is the experience of all in this world, a provision whereby defilement may be cleansed is of surpassing import to all.
The doctrine of divine cleansing of human defilement is subject to a threefold division, namely:
1. In the Old Testament. Various cleansings were prescribed and provided in the Old Testament order, but none of them was in itself efficacious. These were accepted of God for what they typified and hence, as far as the divine achievement in cleansing is concerned, all was complete; but still the ground upon which the cleansing had been wrought was an anticipation of that which Christ would do regarding that defilement when He went to the cross. The ground of cleansing could only be accounted perfect in that the anticipated death of Christ was as certain in the reckoning of God as it is at this time, since the death has been historically achieved. Water was usually the typical cleansing agent, applied by sprinkling or bathing, and in the case of the solution formed with ashes of the red heifer had to be mixed with the symbol of sacrifice. Though typical cleansing was extensive in the Old Testament, it was no more so nor more vitally imperative than the cleansing which the New Testament provides.
2. Of the Unsaved. A once-for-all cleansing is a part of the saving grace of God toward the lost when they believe unto salvation. The efficacy of Christ's sacrifice provides, as divinely applied in the reckoning of God, a washing in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). That this does not indicate a literal, physical washing is obvious; nevertheless, the results with all their supreme value are the same.
3. Of the Believer. Sin is always sin and defilement always defilement whether related to the saved or to the unsaved, and as such can be cleansed in no other way than by the blood of Christ. For the child of God, such cleansing is set forth in 1 John 1:7, 9, which Scripture declares: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. ... If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." In verse 7 the assurance is given that as the believer walks in the light, which means a constant and full adjustment to all the revealed will of God for him, the blood of Christ goes on cleansing him from all sin. The same condition, stated in other words, is present in verse 9, when it is said that "if we [Christians, only] confess our sins"—that is, make the required adjustments—God is both faithful and just (faithful to His promise and purpose, and just in what He does for the believer in view of the fact that Christ has borne the sin) to forgive and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. Nothing could be more effective or advantageous for the believer than that he maintain unbroken fellowship with the Father and with the Son (1 John 1:3, 7). Union with Christ is established forever by the exercise of saving faith, but communion with the Father and the Son may be, and too often is, broken. This, however, may be restored by confession when the sin is forgiven and its stain washed away. Such cleansing was typified by the sprinkling with water in which was mixed the ashes of a red heifer (Num. 19:2-9).
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