So far we have seen that the Word of God says it is like a fire, a hammer, a lamp, a sword, a mirror and a sustainer. Opening each of these thoughts has been enlightening and challenging. Today we consider the last one in this mini-series of what the Word of God says about itself.
7) The Bible is a cleansing agent. I tried to remove some marks from the wall in our foyer today. I even used a strong cleansing agent with hot water but the marks would not disappear … not because the things I used were inferior but because the marks were actually scratches. The only way to remove these will be to use paint … that is to cover up the “in graved” marks. I started out enquiring about the Christian faith and because there was no one to help me, I bought a modern translation of the Bible and read it from Genesis and by the time I reached Colossians, I stopped and re-read it few time. I made notes and thought through what I was reading, how it impacted on my life and what I ought to do about it. This led to my conversion to Jesus Christ. Whilst I knew I was different, changed and now a child of God, I still struggled with indwelling sin. Where from the outside the change was rather remarkable as people saw a new me. Some were shocked at my refusal to participate in things I did before … but … I was shocked by what remained and needed drastic attention. Some marks need spiritual paint!
In those early days I became aware of Jesus saying:
Mt 15:11 “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’”
The context was the Pharisees complaining about the disciples eating without going through the required hand washing ritual. The disciples themselves were confused about what Jesus said and asked him for an explanation. He responded, saying:
Mt 15:17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”
Again, verse 19 is not an exhausted list of sins. Jesus is giving us teaching to explain where sin comes from! It comes from within. Eating does not make you a sinner … so what then feeds the heart getting it to erupt with such depravity if eating food with hands not ritually washed does not generate sin? It is true that the mouth is one of the five avenues of gaining information for the brain together with the eyes, nose, ears and sense of touch (feelings). I suggest that the eyes and ears collect the most information, sending it to the brain which in turn allows the mind to analyze the information. Remember that at best the mind is sinful too … so as it works the information received, depending on its bent towards righteousness or wickedness, it will respond by sending information to the heart … which is seen by Scripture as the control room that executes the information received from the brain. This means that depending on what information I allow my brain to receive into the mind, will depend on the information the mind, through the will sends to the heart … and whatever is in the heart will result in a response according to the environment. If jealousy, anger, bitterness are sent to the heart there will be evil thoughts and slander resulting in false testimony and slander which might result in murder. Similarly, when images of whatever nature that causes sensuality, adultery and sexual immorality could follow. All of these matters might fester in the mind as desires, lusts, fantasies or the like. When I said above … “I was shocked by what remained and needed drastic attention” … it is what is in the heart that … the unseen … until the opportunity arrives for it to become visible sin that I was referring to.
So what can one do about this “heart matter”? As always the Word of God comes to our assistance as we read:
Ps 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
When David wrote this Psalm under inspiration he was not a young man. Rather he was giving advice to young people … but don’t let yourself think this does not apply to you if you are not young! All Scripture is applicable to all of God’s people. All people are open to temptation to sin! Age has no relevance here. The passions and appetites of the body, the mind buzzing out of control and the heart, often untaught is open to the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil. How might one walk in purity of heart and life? You need to fill your mind with the Word of God so that in turn it will allow holiness and righteousness to flow into the heart. Then when temptations and challenges come knocking and choices and decisions need to be executed, the Word of God in the heart will automatically overflow resulting in Christ-like behavour! It is in this way that the Word of God is a cleansing agent! When you heart if filled with the Word of God there is no room for sin to lurk there. Therefore as Christians we need to have a healthy intake of the Word daily followed by thought and reflection resulting in prayerful application. In the context of victory of sin, could James’ words be directed our way … “You do not have, because you do not ask God”? (James 4:2b).
If the Word of God says it is like … a fire, a hammer, a lamp, a sword, a mirror, a sustainer and a cleansing agent … How we use it will reflect whether it is doing it’s intended purpose in our life!
Dear God, thank You that Your Word is far more than a Book. It is an amazing instrument, unlike any other book for it works in the sincere heart to cultivate purity and Christlikeness. Lord, mercifully help me to read and study Your Word carefully to achieve the best application for my life so that all the Glory will be Yours. Amen.