Will washed hands make me holy?

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Pleasing God is a real concern for me, and if you’re reading this, probably for you, too. The ‘how to’ is the issue. We understand the ‘big’ things – live honestly, be kind, stay faithful to your spouse. But, what about the rest of life? Are we content to wear some superficial religious traditions to cover a heart filled with pride, selfishness, or greed?  Do we think that God finds us pleasing because we show up in church every other Sunday, or keep a Bible on the coffee table, or refuse to say the awful ‘curse’ words?

Matthew tells us that some of Jesus’ critics got worked up because the disciples ignored a tradition that had been elevated to holy law. “Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to interview Jesus. “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old traditions?” they demanded. “They ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”” (Matthew 15:1-2, NLT)  Don’t laugh. To us hand-washing is not a moral issue, but most likely we have our own ‘traditions’ that we use to measure our holiness, things equally minor in the scheme of life.

Jesus challenged the Pharisees to stop and realize that they had missed the point of a quality relationship with God.  “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” . . .   Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”   (Matthew 15:10-20, NIV)

He had no issue with washing hands before dinner!  But He reminded them that being sanitary was not the same as being holy.  A well-scrubbed body, a carefully screened vocabulary, or well-rehearsed socially acceptable manners can conceal a filthy heart and it is the corruption of the heart that God cares about. Let’s take the time to examine our lives for the deception of our traditions. It is possible that we are not really so much different from those Pharisees. We can, and often do, replace an authentic pursuit of knowing and loving God with some comforting traditions. Those traditions can keep us from hearing the Holy Spirit’s call to a beautiful holy life.

Giving the Holy Spirit access to our inner thoughts;  inviting God to put us through His school of faith that makes us like Christ, is a hard, often costly, and self-denying choice.   It is much easier just to ‘wash our hands’ and consider the work of holiness accomplished. Are you a quality Christian, one who really loves God, who has surrendered every part of his life to the Lord Jesus Christ?  Never settle for a Christianity that is just about ‘clean hands.’  Seek a pure heart.

Here’s a word from the Word. Let God change you from the inside out and HE will delight in you. What could be better than that?
“Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth,
love one another as if your lives depended on it.
Your new life is not like your old life.
Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word.
Just think: a life conceived by God himself!  

That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;  Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk.” (1 Peter 1:22-2:1, The Message)

_______________

Lord I Need You

(Pray with Chris Tomlin as he sings of our heart’s need)

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

 Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

 So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher © 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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