ONLY GOD CAN CLEAN THE INSIDE
Matt.23: 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Feverously does mankind work to cleanse the outside of the cup regardless of what poison lies within. And make no mistake, inherent within that labor is a stronghold of pride and self righteousness. Man loves the outside of the cup. Hollywood thrives on it. Fashion is an entire industry built upon it. Stores have shelves dedicated to all kinds of hair and face and teeth products. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. We are consumed with appearance. But man looks on the outward appearance while God looks at the heart. When the outside of the cup becomes an obsession, then you have idolatry and humanism.
Somewhere along the line the church has taken her eyes off of Christ and His gospel and has looked at herself, her needs, her desires, her dreams, her prosperity, and when we look at those sinners outside the church we assess people based upon how they look and what they do, not what they need. And when that kind of judgment becomes the norm than all you have is a system of condemnation wrapped in self righteousness. And that does not represent nor serve Christ.
When Christ died for the sins of the world he paid a ransom for whosoever will believe on Him. And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, those who believed were inhabited by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit seals and empowers and comforts, but what Christ said He would do is speak of Jesus. In fact, the Spirit of God speaks so perfectly of Jesus that the Bible teaches interchangeably that we are inhabited by the Spirit and Christ. That is a great mystery but it indicates how the Spirit speaks so powerfully of Jesus within the believer. So in effect, when we as believers are filled with the Spirit of God, we live and breathe and have our being in Christ Jesus. His life is lived in and through us.
But there seems to be a manmade way to do that. The church seems to suggest that if you conform your outside to certain morals, and if you observe an acceptable form of ecclesiastical etiquette, then you are not only a believer, you are a disciple. This is a great departure from Scripture and is at odds with the path to discipleship laid out by Scripture and indeed the lips of our Lord. Legion are the organizations which provide help for people to give up certain habits but which do not address the inward spiritual problem. And if they do address any inward problem it is usually to help people think more highly of themselves. That is not the way of Christ.
How can we expend such energy labeling and castigating sinners and suggest that we are emulating Jesus? The gospels suggest nothing of the kind, and in fact Jesus was criticized for rubbing shoulders with “known” sinners. And yet the church prides itself on being separate from such sinners. Having lunch with an openly gay man would be considered a compromise. In fact being loving and redemptive toward gay people is not the western church’s way at all. Cleansing the culture is way more important than exhibiting a dangerous and vulnerable love toward lost sinners, especially those who exhibit sins unacceptable within the church. We feel very comfortable reaching out to people who are divorced and remarried while we recoil when confronted with embracing gay people.
That is an open symptom of being obsessed with the outward man and ignoring the entire gospel ministry and the Great Commission. And a subtle by-product of such thinking is a devaluing of the life changing work of the Spirit within the heart of a believer. This is not just unfortunate, but it leads to a works based salvation. There can be no salvation without the work of the Spirit in the hearts of sinners, and when that sinner is born again by faith in Christ and through the power of that same Spirit, that new creation must begin his new life relying upon the Word of God through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. This is a sacred and wonderful and miraculous mystery. All of us who have come to faith in Christ soon realize our former ways of knowing and interpreting truth are no longer valid.
But it is a masterful deception of the evil one to get the church to look and live completely within the confines of what can be seen and touched here on earth. Reason and logic and intellect itself become the method of arriving at truth. And since the fallen culture is based upon those methods, the church ultimately succumbs to the driving force of the culture. And the eyes become the main portal for assessing almost everything. So with that toxic combination professing believers create a scaffolding of judgment and condemnation instead of an atmosphere of redemption through the everlasting gospel. And the outside has now become the main focal point of almost everything.
But we are not of this world and our eyes must see the unseen. It is light years easier to clean the outside of the cup than it is to repent and cleanse the inside. The unsaved world cleans itself up all the time which elicits applause among themselves. Let us see what God sees. Let us speak what God speaks. Let us feel what God feels. And please do not mix the Old Covenant with the New. In these last days God has spoken to us through His Son. Jesus is our model, our mentor, our example, our path, our Master, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Truth, our Way, our Savior, Our King, our Lord, our very Life. He lives inside of us, let us let Him live His life through us and into the uttermost parts of the world.
Sinners do not need a bath, they need open heart surgery.