Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.
– Ephesians 5:25-26
They were just turning down the lights in the sanctuary as I slid into a seat near the back of the church.
I was tired and soiled by the previous week. Life had been especially difficult, and I had not handled the pressure well. I felt completely unhinged spiritually and wholly unworthy to be in God’s presence.
The worship team began with one of my favorite songs, and I hoped I didn’t look as vulnerable as I felt.
It would have been easier to stay home. I didn’t feel like opening myself up to the conviction I was sure God’s Spirit had waiting for me. And yet, the yearning to run to my Father was greater than my shame. A desperate hunger for His compassion and holiness consumed me.
The worship was gentle, soothing. The speaker’s message appeared to have been written with me in mind. As I had figured, the Scriptures for the service hit my issues directly head on. Yes, there was conviction. There was also grace, much more grace. God’s compassion bathed my weary feet and anointed them with hope.
I left church revitalized, awed once again at the cleansing power of the Word of God.
The first washing believers receive is the cleansing of our sins by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit through our faith in Christ’s sacrifice.
Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
– 1 Corinthians 6:11
This comes when we hear the Word of God, believe it, and follow Him. One of our first acts of obedience is baptism, the outward declaration of our internal purification and rebirth.
This purification is permanent. Jesus told His disciples that they were clean because they had received His word. The Bible tells us that His sacrifice sanctified and cleansed His Body, the church.
At the Last Supper, as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, Simon Peter protested that he needed to be completely washed. Jesus replied:
He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.
– John 13:10
In this passage Jesus declared all his disciples except Judas were clean. Their feet, soiled with the dust of the earth, were the only dirty part of them.
We may feel soiled by the fallen world around us and our own struggles with our old natures. But the blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all sins committed in the past, present, and future. Our feet get dirty from the earth in which we shuffle, and that’s why we need to read our Bibles.
The Bible is not just a book.
It is God, written down.
God’s Word is our teacher, healer, and friend.
It holds within its pages the power to unlock the mysteries of mankind’s history and future. It reveals our darkest thoughts and our deepest needs. The Bible opens hearts, renews minds, restores relationships, and imparts life.
Best of all, it cleanses us for a new day and a new journey.
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
– John 15:3