June 16, 2010

To Live is Christ — staying out of the dirt

The word “unclean” can have many connotations. It could be me after digging potatoes or a boy after scrubbing an off-road vehicle. It could be the condition of that perfect strawberry that falls into a mud puddle. It could be a leper’s cry in New Testament times as a warning that others should not come near. It is the way a woman feels after she is raped. It could be some foods forbidden in the Old Testament. In the following context, it is none of those.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18)
In the dictionary of God, unclean is thinking and acting contrary to His will, including the worship of idols. I’ve heard the expression, “He has a dirty mind” or “He has a dirty mouth” referring to illicit sexual desires and saying bad words. Nevertheless, God says all sin is unclean, thoughts, words, and actions.

In this context, as in the rest of the Bible, unbelief is also sin, as are the plans and activities of those who are not motivated by faith. In fact, Paul wrote in a passage about eating food offered to idols, “whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

The implications of this are huge. It means that a great deal of life could be “unclean” and not acceptable, not because it is gross sin like idolatry or murder, but because it is done my way, with self-centered motivations, not thinking about God or what He might want in each situation. One definition of sin is “falling short of the mark.” I do that — often.

Theologians talk about sin as “total depravity” which means that sin affects my total being. Every aspect of my life is touched by sin. Nothing is pure — apart from the work of God to forgive and cleanse sin from my life. (See more)

When I was a new Christian, my first mentor gave me an exercise. She told me to define sin and use the entire Bible to do it. When I was finished, if I’d had any thoughts that I could earn or deserve my salvation, they were gone. I realized just how much I needed mercy and a Savior to rescue me from sin.

Being willing to have sin exposed so it can be confessed and cleansed by God is a blessing from Him. I don’t enjoy the process, but these devotional verses from 2 Corinthians remind me once again how important it is. God wants me clean and pure. He wants me to stay away from anything that has a corrupting influence.

The purification process is God’s design. He uses the blood of Christ in a legal sense, and the power of the Holy Spirit in a practical sense. When I agree with Him about sin, He somehow washes it away, not just the guilt of it, but also the desire to do it. The process can be instant, or it can take some time. Either way, He is thorough and effective. He knows how to remove the dirt and change my life. My part is to stay out of the dirt.

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