By Benjamin H. Liles
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Indeed, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. For we are members of His body" (Ephesians 5:21-30, Berean Study).
Earlier today, this piece of scripture became more alive to me than I ever had the opportunity to truly think on it. It's from my helping my parents getting their home cleaned up. And today I was helping them power-washing their driveway. So, what does power-washing their drive have to do with being cleansed by the washing of the word? Stay with me here and you'll find out.
The big thing is God's word gets to the root cause of sin in our lives, especially when it comes down to cleansing our tainted hearts and souls. I mean when we're willing enough to allow God the right to live and dwell there in our hearts and souls He can't simply take up residence when there's so much filth.
It's like Jesus said to those who handle the Laws, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside may become clean as well. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and every impurity. In the same way, you appear to be righteous on the outside, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness" (Matthew 23:25-28, Berean Study).
How can any man, who desires to have the love of God active in their life, if he is unwilling to allow God the right to help clean up space so that He can richly dwell within that man's heart? Paul said, "Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Until we know that sin is exceedingly sinful, and we must deal with it in order that the living God reign within us we can't begin to ask God to dwell within us so richly. "Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16, Holman Christian Standard).
Or maybe we allow God the right to help us with the cleaning and we simply come to Him in faith and hope, believing He can and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And that's what caught my attention.
As I stood there with my dad's power-washing tool in my hand and watched the dirt, mud and grime being removed I noticed how much cleaner the pavement got. Where you once saw nothing but filth was now made clean. So, in that sense it has to be the work of God within a man's heart. It's not all about what we can do. Apart from God we can't do anything, much less do it right. But with God all things are possible!
When it comes down to it I want everyone to see and understand something marvelous here. God desires you. He desires you so much that I recall reading, maybe hearing this, that "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for" (Charles Haddon Spurgeon quote).
Friend, we're all in the same boat when I think about it. On one hand I've been where you are, thinking I could never measure up to the standards Christians hold dear and near to their heart: that God is somehow far off and aloof. In a way that assumption can seem correct. But if we never allow God the right to deal with us, to see us as we are, in need of a Savior, with our lameness, our blindness, our deafness, then how can we ever hope to walk again, to see once more, and even to hear?
Let us allow God the right to work on and in us so that we are filled with the might and power of the risen Christ? "By this we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit" (1 John 4:13, King James 2000). Beloved, now is the time to come in and allow Christ the right to wash and cleanse you with His word. Come in and be set free from sin and death. Allow yourself to be made right and alive in Christ through the power and effectiveness of His word. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.