Holy, Holy, Holy!
I’ve heard it said that “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Although, if I’m being honest, I have no idea what it means. Do people really believe God doesn’t want us to play in the dirt? Or, do people believe that dirty people or dirty homes are somehow less Godly than clean people or clean homes? If you haven’t figured it out by now, the saying “cleanliness is next to Godliness” is not in the Bible. But the Bible does talk about us being “clean”.
In Psalm 51 David writes, “Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Cleanliness and washing are used as illustrations to show how God removes our Godlessness. In fact, Jesus and the disciples participated in several ceremonial washings and oil anointing rites in the life of their ministry. But these ceremonial washings and anointing didn’t make the disciples Godly. Rather, God worked through these ceremonies to make them Holy.
“Holiness is next to Godliness” might be a better saying. To be Holy is to be set apart for God’s purposes. Frequently the rituals that were used to set something apart, or make it Holy, involved some sort of washing or cleansing. These ceremonial washings were done to symbolize physically what God is doing spiritually.
In order for something to be made physically clean it must start off as something that is unclean or dirty. The unclean object is then washed, removing all the unclean things in order to make it clean again. For someone or something to become Holy, it must become clean spiritually. This happens when the uncleanliness in each of us – sin, selfishness, jealousy, etc. – is removed and in its place is the Holy Spirit of God.
While Godliness requires a cleansing for each of us, Godliness doesn’t require us to be clean. In fact Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being clean on the outside but completely filthy on the inside. At the same time Jesus lifted up the filthy beggars, prostitutes and diseased individuals who, although dirty on the outside, were made Holy through God’s forgiveness on the inside.
It is normal for us as people to judge other people or other things by their outward appearance, but this is not how God leads us to be. God reminds Peter through a vision in Acts 10, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” If God has made it clean, than He has made it Holy.
God has made you Holy by cleansing you “inside and out” through the waters of Baptism. You have been set apart by God for something very special. Rejoice and be confident that you are the presence of God in the lives and activities of those around you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!