We hope you take a look at our new book The Kingdom, Power and Glory: The Overcomer’s Handbook because we are so excited at the reception it is getting. This book lays out God’s whole plan of salvation: Why He called us; where we are going; and how we are to get there.
It’s a very stimulating and provocative book, and as we said last month, we pray it will send you back to the Word, “to see if these things be so.” One thing it will do for sure is change your “kingdom perspective.” It certainly has Chuck’s and mine!
In continuing our series, Reflections of His Image, we’ve learned over the past several months that glorifying the Lord-reflecting His Image-is the goal and purpose of being a Christian.
Why is this so very important? It’s important because the ones who are conformed into His image are the ones who will ultimately be deemed worthy to rule and reign with Christ in the coming kingdom.
In order to accomplish this goal, however, there are a couple of important things we must learn to do: 1) we must learn to love God by continually laying our wills and lives down to Him and 2) we must learn how to make “faith choices” to do His will, regardless of how we feel or what we think.
As a result, we’ll be able to give God an open and cleansed vessel through which He can manifest Himself. Therefore, in the next couple of issues of Personal Update, we want to concentrate on the specific cleansing steps we need to take in order for the Lord to conform us into His image and, thus, make us acceptable for His kingdom reign.
You might ask, “Why spend a lot of time on this cleansing process? Why make such a big deal out of it? Can’t we just make one choice in the morning to give ourselves to God and then stay clean all day?”
For those of us who have tried to do this-make one choice in the morning and stay clean all day-the answer is a resounding “No.” Oh, how I wish it were that easy! Unfortunately, one choice in the morning to love God will not assure us of cleanliness all day long!
If we are honest with ourselves, yielding ourselves completely to the Lord means taking every thought captive, recognizing the ones that are not of Him and then, dealing with them as God would have us to do. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5 ) This might sound a bit overwhelming at first, but over time, it becomes second nature. Our sin and self become easier to spot and the resulting “peace that passes all understanding” becomes our barometer that all is well. When we lose that peace, it’s an indication that there is more to deal with.
Without this constant separation from sin and self, we will quench God’s Spirit in us and never be set free to be those open vessels reflecting Christ. Jesus is the One who exposes our sin; He is also the One who examines us, who cleanses us and who washes us from all our impurities. This must be an ongoing process every moment of the day, all day long!
“Putting Off” And “Putting On”
The Scripture that details this cleansing process is Ephesians 4:22-24, 31, which instructs us to put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (See also Colossians 3:8-10, 12-16)
What does it really mean to “put off the old man, be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man”? It means we must confess and repent of all the thoughts, emotions and actions in our lives that are not of God, change our minds about following them (repent), put them at the Altar, and then watch as the Spirit of the Lord comes forth from our hearts.
David in Psalm 51 prays for the same thing: “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.… Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (verses 2-3,7) (See also Psalm 32.)
This inner cleansing is essential. It’s the “key” to our Christian walk and one of the major steps towards intimacy with Christ and being able to glorify Him in all we do.
Purification has always been a prerequisite to being able to enter God’s presence. Psalm 24:3-4 says, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
The practical application of just how we “cleanse our hands” and how we “develop a pure heart” can be patterned after the three steps the priests took in the Inner Court of Solomon’s Temple in order to deal with their sin and be reconciled to God.
Remember, Jesus tells us that everything in the Bible is there for our learning, for our understanding and to be applied to our own personal lives.
So here again, even in this cleansing service of the temple, there is a pattern that the Lord has laid out for us in order to deal with our sin and self, be reconciled to God and ultimately be allowed to enter His presence.
Cleansing in the Temple
The Old Testament stresses the difference between the holy and the profane. For example, in Leviticus 11:44-45 it says, “For I am the Lord your God; ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” (See also 19:2; 20:26) God is determined that His people understand exactly how to be totally consecrated and set apart to Him.
Solomon’s Temple was designed to be God’s special dwelling place and to reveal His glory to the world. (1 Kings 8) This Temple was a foreshadowing of the temple that was to come-Jesus Himself.
Solomon’s Temple, however, was filled with God’s Glory only after the priests cleansed themselves in the Inner Court, worshiped in the Holy Place and then came out to minister to the people.
II Chronicles 5:11-14 validates this, “...it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the Holy Place: (all the priests that were present were already sanctified)...And as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord...then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord. So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house.”
This is the Lord’s pattern for us also.
Personal Cleansing Steps
What were the exact three steps that the priests took in the Inner Court in order to be sanctified and made holy? Upon entering the Court, the priests first encountered the Lavers of Bronze, where they washed their hands and feet by confessing and repenting of their sins. (Exodus 30:19-21) Then they proceeded to the Brazen Altar where they sacrificed and gave their sin offerings to the Lord. Finally, they bathed bodily in the Molten Sea, which symbolized their complete washing and cleansing. These are the same three cleansing steps that God wants us to implement in our own lives: 1) He wants us to acknowledge, confess and repent of our sin and self; 2) He wants us to lay the things He shows us at the Altar (i.e., give them to Him); 3) And finally, He wants us to bathe in His Word in order to get completely healed. This is how we are to cleanse ourselves from “the filthiness of flesh and spirit” so we too might have clean hands, a pure heart and are then able to enter His presence and reflect His glory.
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Over the next several issues, what we will learn is not something I’ve made up or something that I’ve read in a self-help psychology book. These are the actual steps that the priests took in Solomon’s Temple in order to approach the Holy Place where they would worship the Lord.
And they are the exact steps that God would have us personally take in order to have clean hands and a pure heart and be able to enter His presence, not only here in this lifetime, but also in the future Millennial Kingdom.
Again, Psalm 24:3-4: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
To be continued next month: “Personal Cleansing Steps.” This article has been excerpted in part from Nan’s book, Reflections of His Image.