In addition to God’s forgiveness, we also need Him to purify us. Our heart has to be made pure, lest we fall back into the same sins, again and again.
This post is part of my book launch, God’s Triumphant Mercy: A Reflection of Psalm 51 . . .
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
There are two major parts to our salvation from sin and guilt: forgiveness and cleansing. What if God only forgave but didn’t cleanse us? We would be like a notorious gambler whose debt has been cancelled, only to fall back into the same addiction with all the detrimental consequences.
God doesn’t only forgive, He also cleanses us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Paul emphasized these two elements when he wrote: “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
After David had cried to the Lord for the blotting out of his transgressions, he knew that the issue was far deeper than his need for forgiveness. Our sins are the result of our sinful heart. We also need to be purified.
Jesus stated: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:19-20). Unless our heart is cleansed, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll defile ourselves again with the same sins.
While we can wash the outside of the cup and plate (see Matt. 23:25), look all nice and moral, only God can cleanse our heart. Even though David had led a godly life, there were still hidden and lingering corruptions that could easily break forth, some of which he might not even have been aware. One thing he did know: he needed God to wash and cleanse him.
He asked Him to thoroughly wash him from his iniquity. Just like a little fire can burn down a forest, even so our small sins can bring about great devastation. God needs to thoroughly wash us, including from our “hidden faults” (see Ps. 19:12). The good news is that God will do so: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (Ezek. 36:25).
When the soldier pierced Jesus’ side, John wrote: “At once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). That indicated the blood for our forgiveness and the water for our cleansing. Jesus doesn’t save partially. He completely saves, not only from the penalty, but also from the power, and, eventually, from the presence of our sins.
Heavenly Father, wash and cleanse me from my sins.
The Devotional Writer
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