Squeaky Clean

Scripture: Luke 5:12-16, Matthew 23:26
Date: 06/25/2005 
The Bible teaches that God wants to cleanse us from sin. There are several ways this is described such as through the story of the man Christ healed of leprosy. The Lord wants to cleanse our hearts which is a priority with God.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. I want to thank Gavin and the Sparrows for singing and sharing with us. And Mrs. Gavin must be back here with the youngest, is that right? Somewhere? And we’ll get to meet them later at the concert. I hope that you’ll come. I met them when I did a series of meetings in, was it Melbourne? I remember I went to so many towns it all runs together but I think we were in Melbourne and we even got to sing a little in between meetings. That was fun. So I know you’ll enjoy that tonight.

We’re not going to have a formal service right now, but I would like to ask you to, especially in your private time, pray for… make a little note to remember to pray for a number of our friends and family here at Central that will be joining me in Africa. Some have already left. Some will be leaving with me this week. Between now and the first of the month we’ll have between fifteen and twenty people that will be over there conducting this satellite campaign that will not only reach the whole continent of Africa but it will be seen here in Sacramento. It’ll be by delayed broadcast because, of course, it’s the middle of the night here. And so it’ll be on 3ABN and Ken Jackson is going to put it on RCCTV so you’ll get to see some of the programs before we get back, but we have a thousand challenges so please pray. That’s the only thing that’s going to make that successful, I believe, is the prayers of God’s people. Will you pray for us? Appreciate that.

I got one of those magazine offers not too long ago, one of the few magazines I might be interested periodically in is Consumer Reports. They give you some good insights in things that are good and things that not so good and if you’re going to buy a car or an appliance or something they the better ones and the best service and I noticed that they had a special. They said if you signed up for Consumer Reports magazine they would send you a couple of free books that you get to keep even if you cancel your… I almost said prescription… subscription. One of the books was How to Clean Almost Anything. How many of you have heard of that? That book. How many of you have that book? I was calling around last night. Ha! I wanted to show you a copy. I’m a clean nut and that really appealed to me. How to Clean Almost Anything! Oh! That’s what I want! And I got one when I signed up, but in one of my flurries of cleaning I threw it out. And I was looking all over with Karen. I said, “Where is my book on how to clean everything?” She said, “You probably cleaned up.” And you know that’s part of cleaning is getting rid of the clutter and I threw out my clean book.

I remember there’s a statement in there one of the ways that you can clean the rings out of bathtubs is get a square tub. It’s hard to get a ring. How to Clean Almost… do you notice it didn’t say, doesn’t say in the title “How to clean everything” because they admit that there’s some things that you can’t clean? How to Clean Almost Everything There was a teacher during Sunday School that was trying to remind some of the children of popular Christian parables and she would say, you know “God helps those that…” and they’d say, “Help themselves.” And she asked one of the boys, “Cleanliness is next to…” And he said, “Impossible.” Cleanliness is next to impossible, it seems like, for us, but God calls us to be clean. Matter of fact, I used Pastor Mike’s computer just before I came out and I typed in “Be Clean” and in the King James Version you can find that 55 times in the Bible. It talks about “being clean”. The purpose of the Plan of Salvation is telling us about how God can cleanse us from sin. God is a great cleanser. He is the supreme laundrer. Even in nature you can see how God has designed things where He is cleansing the environment. If we would stop messing it up left to its natural processes the environment has an amazing ability to purge and to cleanse itself. I mean, God uses everything from the sun to the rain to ants and buzzards to clean the environment. He has his way. But we sometimes have a problem staying clean.

Now I’m going to begin by talking about what would be obvious. First, God wants us to be clean personally. And I hope no one will take offense at this, but there are people who take the name of Jesus and have not yet discovered there is a connection between claiming the gospel and taking the name of Christ and you ought to be a clean body. You ought to be a clean person. The Bible says, Jesus even said, “when you’re fasting,” Matthew 6:17, “wash your face, comb your hair” if you have it. Part of Christianity is that you, you know, keep yourself clean. You want to be manicured. You actually are bad advertising for the Gospel if you say you are a Christian and you can’t even take care of the basics of personal hygiene. I’m ashamed to tell you that there was a time in my life when I thought there was virtue in being natural and dirty. You know kids go through these crazy things where, believe it or not, I had long hair and I never combed it. I’d get out of the shower and I’d shake my head. My hair would be out like that. I had curly hair. I still do, a little bit back there. But you know we would never wash our jeans.

That was the hippie thing back then because we were “flower children,” you know? We wanted to be natural. And as time went by, little by little, through social interaction people were dropping hints that my company was not appreciated and I began to realize and come under conviction after I became a Christian, there is no virtue in filth. There is no virtue in being dirty. We advertise for Jesus by being clean. I mean the very basics, we’re hoping that he’s cleansed our hearts but it should be demonstrated on the outside by, I mean, if you know, if you’re building a house and if you’re working underneath the chassis of a car, go ahead get dirty then take a bath. I mean, some things you’re dirty while you’re doing them, but on the average Christians ought to be a clean people. We ought to know about Q-tips and toothbrushes. Amen? Trimming our beards and mustaches. That goes for you men too. Mouthwash is not a sin. Don’t drink it. You and I all know people who believe in righteousness by garlic and they come to church and their Hallelujahs come out halitosis. God wants us to be clean. Now I won’t spend too much time on that because I probably spent too much also. It’s hard to live and think clean when you feel dirty.

Matter of fact, the psychologists have known that sometimes people who feel dirty on the inside try to compensate by cleaning themselves because they feel dirty and they think, “Well, I can’t clean the inside, but maybe if I spent more time on the outside or my environment.” And really it’s a plea for purity. It’s a plea for cleansing. I remember Abe Lincoln one time was interviewing some people to fill his cabinet during his second election he was replacing a couple of people. And someone came in, they shared their resume, and applied for this position and after the interview they left and Lincoln turned to his secretary and said, “I don’t like the looks of them.” And his secretary said, “Mr. President, you mean you’re not going to hire someone based on how he looks? His resume is very impressive.” And Lincoln said, “By the time a person is forty they’re responsible for how they look.” We are often a result of our lifestyles and no matter what God gave you, you can take care of what you’ve got. And you can tell if a person’s got some personal respect about their appearance.

A Christian should, point two; (There’ll be ten of them, if you’re keeping track.) a person should be interested in keeping their environment clean. And before I say anything more on this subject I just want to tell you that I appreciate, we don’t say enough about it, I deeply appreciate the members here at Central that come every week, that work… You know we don’t have a gardener. We have volunteers that come and they keep these grounds looking like the Garden of Eden any time of year. Doesn’t it look beautiful out there in the courtyard? A lot of time and energy goes into the flowers and the sweeping. See those ferns out there? Somebody spends time every week. They think, “This is God’s house.” And they’re right. And they work to keep it clean and they do their best to take care of the environment and we’re thankful for that because that tells people something about who we are. How we take care of God’s house is a reflection of what we think of our God and I might add how you take care of your house and what your yard looks like is a reflection on what’s happened in your heart. You tell me what you think, friends.

Can you tell something about people when you drive by their house, simply by what their house looks like? It tells you something. If you get a house, it doesn’t matter how big or small, doesn’t matter if it’s a palace or if it’s a Hogon, if it’s clean and orderly it tells you something about the respect and the attitudes of the people that live inside. The Bible teaches this. Deuteronomy chapter 23 verse 14 it says, “For the Lord, your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to give your enemies over to you therefore your camp shall be holy that He may see no unclean thing among you and turn away from you.” God tells His people that He doesn’t want anything unclean among them. Now notice what it said, “that He doesn’t see anything unclean and turn away from you.” Is God influenced or affected by our environment? Wouldn’t it be a horrible thought to think that the angels and the Lord are displeased by our lack of respect for our environment and turn away? We want by our appearance, we want by our environment to do everything that we can to invite the Holy Intelligences to dwell among us. Someone said, “Don’t own so much clutter that you’re relieved when you see your house catch on fire.” You can keep your house clean and just have too much stuff too. I heard about this family in Plainfield, Texas.

Their house was virtually leveled by a tornado. One little wall was left standing and the lady of the house on examining the rubble of their home. She was picking through things. She went up to the one remaining standing wall and believe it or not there was this pewter plaque on the wall and she read it and she just had to laugh. Here’s what it said. “Come on in. Sit down. Relax. Converse. Our house doesn’t always look like this. Sometimes it’s worse.” You ever heard someone say, “It looks like the tornado went through the house.” Well she had a tornado go through her house. Jesus cared about the little things of cleanliness in the environment. Notice that, after Christ fed the multitude he said to gather together the fragments. Now not only did he gather the good portions of food to maybe take back and feed others they probably picked up the fish bones and disposed of them properly. They didn’t leave a mess. Christ gave that kind of attention to detail. How was it that Peter and John knew that Jesus had risen when they looked in the tomb? He had folded his grave clothes. Think about that. They knew that Jesus had risen because if someone stole the body or if someone came along and evicted the body, who would take the time to fold grave clothes? Do you reuse grave clothes? Do you, you know, hang them out in case you need them in the future? Sell them at Salvation Army? I mean, Jesus folded his grave clothes. He cared about those kinds of things. Here at the climax of the plan of salvation is the resurrection in many respects.

The angel comes and rolls the stone away and God the Father infuses Jesus’ body with life. We don’t even know how it happened. Jesus said, “I lay my life down. I take it up.” But whatever, the spark of life came into Christ. He raises up. His blood begins to course through His veins again. He’s alive. He stands up. The angels in heaven are singing. There’s great rejoicing. Maybe they helped unwind him. We don’t know the logistics of all of it, but before He walks out He says, “Just a moment.” And He folds His clothes! What does that tell you about Jesus and how important He felt about these kinds of things? I get convicted every now and then. I don’t litter. I’m not a litterbug and I’m indignant and angry… I chased a car down the road one time. I was driving down the road coming from our house up in the hills. There’s about ten miles of dirt road and some family had been to McDonalds and they were putting along ahead of me and all of a sudden I saw them hurl out their window one of these trays they give you at McDonalds and it had the cup in it and all the wrappers and all the debris from their dining experience and they threw it out the window and they just kept going. And I was so mad I started chasing them. They saw. They started running from me. And we’re careening around the corners and I’m chasing.

I didn’t know what I was going to do if I caught them. Finally when we got to the open road I thought, “Doug, this is crazy! What am I going to do? Ram their car?” But it made me so angry. I think what I did. I stopped and I picked it up and then I started chasing them. And I was going to throw it at them, throw it in their car or something like that. But don’t you hate people that are pigs like that? I’m sorry, friends. If you ever do that don’t let me know about it. But I’m sometimes convicted by little things, you know? I’ll get a toothpick from El Torrito. This is a true story. They’re pre-wrapped. Little cellophane wrappers that big. On my way out I take my toothpick out of the wrapper, I throw it at the garbage can, but cellophane doesn’t go where you aim. Sometimes it flutters. And I see that I’ve missed the can but I’m on my way out the door and halfway to my car the Holy Spirit is saying, “Doug, it’s a little thing but he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful in that which is much.” And I’ve gotta go back and pick it up and put it in. My conscience bothers me about things like that. Some of you think, “Doug, you got a problem. You need therapy.” Right? But really, you know, this is how I feel. I think God cares about our being faithful to keep our environments clean because it says something about who we are on the inside. Will we be safe in heaven if we’re throwing our McDonalds wrappers out the window? I know what you’re thinking. There won’t be McDonalds wrappers! Well, there might be.

They just won’t be cow. They’ll be tofutti beast. God wants us to keep our environments clean. God wants us to be washed within. Now we’re getting to where the real heart of this message is. Acts chapter 22 verse 16. The Lord spoke to the Apostle Paul through Anninias and he said, “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.” Now, what is it that washes away our sins? The baptism or the calling on the name of the Lord? First and foremost sins are washed away by calling on the name of the Lord. If you’ve read Psalms 51, and I think we’ve got some quotes from that in my message today, David is saying “if you wanted sacrifice I’d give it, but the sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart.” And then he pleads, “Wash me and I’ll be clean. Purge me and I’ll be whiter than snow”, but it’s through calling on the name of the Lord our sins are washed away. Baptism is a symbol that we have called on the name of the Lord for cleansing. But so often in the world and in the church you know what really bothered Jesus was the leaders in the church were so preoccupied with demonstrating external cleansing they neglected the internal cleansing. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish but the inside are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the dish and the cup that the outside might be clean also.”

Now if you were coming over to my house and you’re going to eat off my utensils and I tell you, “You know I was in a hurry last week so I didn’t have a chance to clean all of the cups and dishes, but I cleaned half of all of them.” I cleaned each one half. Now which half would you want? The inside or the outside? If I told you that I cleaned the outside so it looked good to you. I cleaned the bottom of the plate but not the top, would you feel safe eating at my house? But if I told you I was interested in your health so I cleaned the inside you’d feel a little better, wouldn’t you? We’re so preoccupied with creating the illusion of external cleansing, convincing one another that we’ve been cleansed and often indifferent with weather we really are clean on the inside. What is the priority with God? It’s the inside cleansing. Now I’ve got things backwards. I did my fall cleaning. I went out and started cleaning windows last week. I’m not suggesting Karen didn’t do it but I became obsessed with the windows. And I told you, pray for me, I do have it bad. I went to military school at five years old and it did something to me. I mean I was shining shoes and belt buckles and cleaning and inspections, five years old. That was my first military school then I went again 11, 12, 13 and so you know I’m preoccupied with this and I’m so glad that Daniel is now in the Marines. I know he might go to Iraq, but he’s learned to make his bed. He can shine his shoes.

Well, I went and started cleaning the windows. I became obsessed because I’d drive home and I’d see those spots on the outside of our windows here in town. I’ve got another window story for you later. And I got the squeegee, you know, and I got the scrubbers and I did a professional job and I cleaned them and I stepped back and I thought, “Hey! They look clean!” But then I went inside and I thought, “Boy! I thought I cleaned the windows!” Once you’re on the inside looking out you see all the spots that you missed. Sometimes we see each other’s windows only from the outside. You and I see from the inside. We see the spots and we need the Lord to get that squeegee on the inside. Amen? Clean is from within. I heard about a lady that was very critical of her neighbors and she had a friend visiting one day and they were sitting there over tea gossiping and the one lady she looked out her window and she said, “Take her laundry for instance. Look at the laundry hanging out there on the line, well, it’s dirty.” And her friend said, “You know, I don’t think it’s her laundry. It’s your windows.” We’re so critical sometimes of one another’s cleanliness and maybe it’s our perspective that gives us that view. He wants us to be clean on the inside. You might wash the outside for pretense and it doesn’t clean the inside.

Keep in mind right after Pilate be…, not betrayed, condemned Jesus, he washed his hands. Did that ceremony of washing his hands wash away his culpability, his guilt for what he had done? He said, “I find no fault in this man, but that’s your problem.” And he washed his hands and condemned him. It didn’t wash his record. Jesus washed Judas’ feet and the next thing Judas did is he walked on those feet to the enemies of Christ and betrayed Him. Did cleansing the outside of his feet change his heart? As important as external cleansing might be, the real cleansing that will make a difference for eternity is the one that happens on the inside. It was in our scripture reading there in Isaiah, “Wash us on the inside.” Now God used to have His priests in the Bible wash before ministry. And in case you’re wondering, how many of you came from the era, I don’t want to put you on the spot but there was a time when Sabbath keeping Christians whether they kept Sunday or Saturday they used to take their baths the day before church. How many of you remember that era? They’d take a weekly bath.

I’m not going to ask you if you still do that. I have met people before that found out that I took a shower Sabbath morning and they chastised me and they said, “Pastor Doug, you’re not supposed to bathe on the Sabbath!” And they maybe were able to find some reference to that and I’d say… Keep in mind that in the early days of the Christian movement in North America, especially in New England and a lot of these northern countries where most of the people lived, when they would bathe they used to have to haul their water. They didn’t all have running water and they used to have to heat it up on a stove and haul the wood and then they had to pour it and then they had to carry it all out again. It was a real chore. The idea about these baths on Sabbath had nothing to do with it being wrong to wash on Sabbath. It had to do with all the work involved because Sabbath is a day of rest. It was a labor. But today where you step in the shower and you go, pft, and you rinse off and you walk out, I tell you what, friends, I bathe every day. I’m not going to have the Sabbath be the one day of the week when I’m dirty. I’m holy today so I’m dirty. It’s a holy day so I can’t wash. It’s not Biblical. Notice what it says here in the Bible. Ezekiel 30, verse 20. Some of you have always wondered about that. I hope that helped. “When they,” speaking of the priests, “go into the tabernacle of meeting, when they come near the alter to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord they shall wash with water lest they die.”

That’s why there was a laver in the temple. Friends, I’m not messing around. I’m washing, especially Sabbath morning before I come into the tabernacle of the Lord. Amen? Isaiah chapter 52, verse 11, “Depart! Depart! Go out from there. Touch no unclean thing. Go out from the midst of her. Be clean you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” Now when do you bear the vessels of the Lord more than when we minister before Him in corporate worship on Sabbath? God would have us be clean physically, right? How many of you… Now, just, I’m curious. This is just something that has really no virtue to the sermon but I’m wondering. There’s different kinds of people out there. You know some squeeze the toothpaste from the top of the tube, some from the bottom. I won’t ask that question. Some people, how many of you take your daily bath at the end of the day so your sheets stay clean longer? Hands up. Okay. How many of you like to do it in the morning? Ah… I thought I’m a morning cleaner too. If I play racquetball I clean at night also or I can’t sleep with Karen. And then some of you twice a day? Any of you two times a day? Once a week, anybody? I just wondered. Alright. God tells us in His word, “You are a royal priesthood.” II Peter chapter 2 verse 9, “You are a chosen generation. A royal priesthood A holy nation.” His own special people.

If we’re priests of God and if we’re commanded not to minister, not to bear the sacred things without washing first “lest you die” especially when you take the name of Jesus when you are dealing with sacred things I think it brings real reproach to the Lord. I’ve seen pastors get up to preach and of course this is a very blatant example, they don’t look like they cleaned their suit in six years. It’s slimy and stained and wrinkled and they’ve got patches where they haven’t shaved and I’ve thought, “Please don’t talk about Jesus looking like that” because what does it say about your Lord? I think Christians ought to advertise… I’ve already talked about this, haven’t I? Let’s move on to the internal cleansing. You can tell this is important to me. One reason I am even dealing with this is because we are not naturally clean. My mother used to tease me growing up. She'd say, “Doug, if there is a puddle of mud in the middle of the Sahara you would find it!” Any of you have children like that? If there’s any… I do! Yeah. It’s hereditary. So often if you give kids something to do if there’s any possibility of getting dirty while they’re doing it they’ll get dirty. And I remember even last night I don’t know what Nathan did, do you? Nathan was coloring with his fingers at school. Painting bugs with his fingers and he couldn’t get the stains off his fingers so he came into the garage. He said, “Dad, Mom said you’d have some of this special cleaning stuff that would get this off.” Any of you seen that orange citrus cleaner? You know what I’m talking about?

That stuff’s pretty good. Yeah. And I took some of that and I rubbed and I rubbed and I couldn’t get it off his fingers. But he’d been painting with his fingers during the day. He had all these purple stains on there. He may still have them now. You can look after church. We’re naturally dirty. Job 14 verse 4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” No one. Jeremiah 13 verse 23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” The Bible says our hearts are naturally “desperately wicked”. We are depraved by sin. We’re naturally internally dirty. We’re selfish. And it’s only the Spirit of the Lord that gives us this craving to be clean. Isaiah 64:6, “but we are all like an unclean thing.” And our righteousness is like what? Filthy rags. We are naturally drawn to that which is spiritually unclean. It doesn’t come naturally. Heard about a pastor who was walking down the streets in old England with a friend of his that was president of a soap manufacturing company. And they walked by a bar where they could hear the people carousing and misbehaving.

A few stumbled out the door. And the soap manufacturer said to his minister friend, “It doesn’t look like your gospel is working very effectively to clean people’s lives.” And the pastor didn’t say anything and pretty soon they went by a little boy who was down in the street playing with some mud. And the pastor said to his friend, “Doesn’t look like your soap is working either.” He says, “My soap works but you’ve got to apply it.” Pastor says, “My gospel works too but you must apply it.” The Lord has a cleanser out there but it’s something that we must apply to our lives. Sometimes soap works more effectively when it’s applied contained with something abrasive. Matter of fact, in my garage not only do I have some of that orange citrus cleanser I’ve got something called “Goop”.

Any of you men have “Goop” in your garage? And it’s the most effective when they put grit in it. How many of you men remember the soap, I don’t know if you can still buy it anymore. Can you still buy “Lava”? Can you still buy “Lava” soap? I haven’t seen it lately, but that used to, it was famous of course, it’s soap that somebody got the smart idea, made a million dollars, they mixed it with volcanic pumice and that little additional, abrasive quality would get the dirt out that the regular soap would just slide right over. King David said in Psalms 51:7, “Purge me with Hyssop and I will be clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” It’s not only the blood of Christ that cleans us. The hyssop was like a branch that they used for cleansing and they used this also, you notice, during the Passover it says they would take hyssop and they would use this appliance to apply the blood.

I got in the shower last night. Did a little bit of dirty work on my car. Had stuff under my fingernails. You’ll notice they’re clean. I couldn’t get it out with just the soap or even the citrus cleaner. Had to get a scrub brush. Took something abrasive. Sometimes God is able to clean us by using something rough. I don’t know any other way to say it. And it may not feel good. I remember my mom left me when I was, this is a very vivid memory. Certain things stand out in your mind. My mom left me with a babysitter. I don’t even remember her name. I remember exactly what she looks like. She was a jolly looking rotund lady with short white hair and I came in from playing and my hands were filthy, as usual, and she said, “Go wash your hands before touch anything.” So I went in the bathroom and did like most six-year-olds. I turned on the water. I stuck my hands in the water. I then turned off the water. Of course there was this brown, wet solution all around everything I touch after that. You of course sort of shake your hands. You wipe some of the dirt on the towel. I went back in. She looked at my hands. She said, “Oh, no, no, no. I said, ‘wash your hands’.”

I said, “I did wash my hands.” She said, “Let me help you.” She took me in the bathroom. She sat down on the porcelain pony there with the lid down and she took me on her lap and she took a washcloth and got some soap on the washcloth and she began to rub my hands. And it was, I’m going “Oh, oh, this hurts. We don’t’ know each other that well,” I’m thinking. And she was scrubbing my hands then she had me rinse them. And she looked and she examined them, she scrubbed them some more. And she got done and you know what? When she got done I was looking at my hands like, “I’ve never seen them like this before!” And while she was cleaning my hands she was telling me a story. “I have this other boy I take care of and when I clean his hands he says, ‘Mrs. So and So, you get my hands clean like snow. How do you get my hands so white?’” And she says, “You gotta scrub ‘em to get ‘em white like this and I know how to scrub ‘em and get ‘em white.” And you know, I never, she changed my life.

I just realized that if you really want to get your hands clean you take a little more time, a little abrasive energy, they call it elbow grease. And it’s amazing what you can do. You can get paint and all kinds of things off if you rub long enough. You just take that first two or three layers of skin off and you can get clean, right? Sometimes it takes a little bit of rubbing, a little bit of abrasion and the Lord is able to cleanse us. Revelation 7:14, “These are the ones who have come out of great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Notice the connection between their robes are washed, their robes are white and they’ve gone through the heavy duty cyclone. Tribulation. Tribulation, that abrasion, that scrubbing has a cleansing influence. How do you get out the spots? It’s often the hot water that works the best to get the spots out. Now the Bible says here, “They washed them and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” I want to park here for just a minute because this is a concept that is difficult in many parts of the world.

I understand that in Japan Christianity struggles because for the Japanese blood is a very dirty thing. And to talk about cleaning with blood is an enigma to them. That’s a conundrum they can’t figure out. “You clean with blood?” I mean they struggle when you talk about “washed in the blood of the Lamb” some of the traditional Japanese people go, “Who wants that?” I mean even for us in a Western culture you don’t typically wash something with blood and it’s a mystery that a lot of us struggle with. We don’t know how that works. There are a lot of things I cannot explain. There’s things every day that we believe in that we can’t evaluate or analyze. You know to this day with all the advanced in science and medicine and research doctors and neurosurgeons cannot explain to you how you hold a thought in your brain. They don’t know where that thought is. They know that certain feelings and urges come from different parts of the brain but if you were to suddenly memorize a story how do you keep those images and those pictures in your mind? It’s a mystery. They don’t understand it, but we all still think, don’t we?

We’re not going to stop thinking because we can’t explain it. We’re not going to stop telling stories because we don’t know how we store them. It’s like, was it D. L. Moody? No it was Billy Sunday who used to like to say, “I don’t know how a black cow can eat green grass and make white milk and yellow butter, but I like ice cream.” That’s what he said. We can’t understand it. How you can wash somebody in the blood of the Lamb and their sins can be made white as snow. It’s a mystery, but it works. I was up in Covelo again washing windows last time I was home. Karen scrubbed the windows. She did this on her own. And we had years of water spots that had built up and even after scrubbing them they looked as bad as ever. Any of you ever have that problem before? These water spots had calcified on the window and you scrub and you scrub and use all these cleaners and… I bought this stuff that’s supposed to be “cleans everything”.

I guess I’m a sucker, but I got a phone call from these disabled workers and they said, “Would you like to support the Disabled Workers of America?” And I said, “Well, what?” And they said, “We’re not asking for a free donation, but we’ve got this product. It’s called “I Can’t Believe It” and it cleans everything.” And they told me about the virtues of how this cleaner would clean virtually everything. And I thought, “Well, they’re speaking to me. I’m a clean nut.” I said, “I like that.” When they call and ask for donations and offer me postcards I’m not as interested but when they say, “This will clean everything” then I care more about them. And so I ordered a bottle of “I Can’t Believe It”. And you know it was true, you couldn’t believe it because it didn’t do anything. We went out there with the windows and we tried to scrub them with some “I Can’t Believe It” and I still couldn’t believe it. It didn’t make a bit of difference.

I don’t want to embarrass my wife too much. I always do anyway, she said. You know this is the time when we really get to talk is during the sermons otherwise we don’t talk to each other. But Karen bought this miracle laundry ball. What do you call it? Oh, you didn’t buy it. Praise the Lord. She used it though. What is it called, I forget. It’s a plastic ball. I’m sorry, friends. I really, I find this hilarious. It’s just a plastic ball that’s got some solution inside and you throw the ball in your washing machine and you’re not supposed to use any soap. And they guarantee it’s something that’s supposed to oxidize or something like that. And it’s called this… They use them in Europe. It’s special. You know whenever they say “it came from out of the country” you can’t really check. So for I don’t know how long Karen is throwing this plastic ball in the washing machine and my clothes are beginning to stink! And I’m telling her, we bought this new washing machine, and I said, “I don’t understand.” I said, “These towels stink!” And I thought it was our washing machine because it’s one of those low water use washing machines, you know. She’s throwing this ball in. No soap! Then I see this report on bogus products. Guess what’s at the top of the list? They said, “Tens of thousands of these plastic laundry balls have sold. They don’t do a thing.” Bogus cleanser. There’s a lot of that out there, isn’t there? We’ll sell it to you cheap if you want a plastic laundry ball. Well, you know some things they promise the world. They don’t do any good! And yet Jesus is promising the most potent cleanser in the world and because we can’t understand it we don’t use it. There’re some things I don’t understand I use them.

Well, Karen was cleaning the windows in Covelo. Let me go back to my story. You come out good. She says, “Doug, we need something that works. This isn’t working.” And so I remembered that miriatic acid, I think that’s the name for also what we call hydrochloric acid and you can buy it. Pool companies have it and stuff. Very powerful stuff. But if you water it down a little bit what it does is it will dissolve calcification. And so I mixed a little miriatic acid which is powerful stuff. You don’t want to get it on your hands without rinsing it off right away.

It’ll burn your skin right off. Matter of fact, I started feeling my skin get slimy because I had put too much in. And I went back when we were up in Covelo last time and I tried this stuff on the windows and it worked, boy, just like that! It’s a little tip. See? You’re learning as you come to church how to clean almost anything. And you think about the blood of Christ. I mean, I didn’t even need to rub! Soon as it touched it those calcium circles that were all over the windows, they were just gone. And the blood of Christ is like that. I don’t know how it works. I don’t know why it works, but it works. I can’t explain it to you, but I can recommend it. The blood of Christ washes away the sins of the world. We take our suits to the cleaners. We hand it to a very friendly man at Curly’s Cleaners. They take them in the back somewhere. They do something to them. I don’t know what they do, but when I get them back they’re clean. I remember when we were in India, Micah and we were at the hotel our clothes started getting dirty. You’re there forty days. I’m already wondering how we are going to clean things in Africa. I can’t pack for forty days.

We’d take our clothes and the people in the hotel would pick them up and I remember I asked Dawna, I said, “Where do they clean them?” She said, “Don’t ask.” And then we drive by, we see people beating clothes on a rock. They came back clean. I don’t know exactly what happened but it works. I don’t know how the blood of Jesus washes away our sin, but if you believe in the power of His blood and you give Him your sins He gives you back a new heart. It works. You know I think I told you before my last trip to Africa we had to get Yellow Fever shots and my shot, thank God, is good for five years. I don’t need another one. But I found out a little amazing fact. In West Africa in 1927 a blood specimen was taken from a native by the name of Acibe who was sick with yellow fever but he had recovered. They took a blood specimen and then the Rockefeller Institute and a number of other clinics around the world began to create the Yellow Fever Vaccine and through duplication from that one native’s blood all the vaccine for Yellow Fever in the world today can all be traced back to that one man. Because he had it and he recovered.

There’s only one person who lived in our world without sinning and that’s Jesus. And it’s through a transfusion of His blood that we are saved from sin. I think I’ve shared with you before that it’s significant the first miracle of Jesus was that He took grape juice and gave it to them at a wedding. He turned water into pure grape juice and they said it was the best. He gave grape juice at a wedding. A symbol of His blood. Still enjoying your grape juice, by the way, thank you. What was the last thing that Jesus did before He died on the cross? They gave Him sour wine and He tasted it then He died. You know what the significance of that is? What does wine or grape juice symbolize in the Bible? The blood of the covenant. One of the last things He did as He gives them this cup He says, “This is my blood.” First miracle of Christ is He gives pure grape juice. It’s the symbol of His blood. The last thing He tastes sour wine on the cross.

Jesus gave a blood transfusion to humanity. He gave us His pure blood to provide for our wedding with Him. He takes our sour blood. He took our sin. He gives us His purity. And you know the Bible says “the life is in the blood.” I can’t explain it but every cell in your body is fed by blood and you know what else? Every cell in your body is cleansed by the blood. The blood is a cleanser. It really is. It’s amazing how much good science these old patriarchs and prophets understood. We are washed as well through the Spirit. Now I know we’re washed in the blood of the Lamb but you can read in the Bible here, notice this, 1Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the righteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived” and he proceeds now to name those that are filthy “neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor sodomites nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor revelers nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now notice, I like this part, “And such were some of you.” All of us fit in this category somewhere, “but you were washed, but you were sanctified. You were justified by the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.” Washed by the Spirit of God. Now that’s a process. When you first come to Jesus we’re washed in the blood. The blood of Jesus justifies and washes away your sins. We’re continually empowered by the blood, but we are sanctified by the Spirit. Do you see the difference? Justified by the blood. Sanctified by the Spirit. That means He’s teaching you to stay clean. You know after you give someone a bath, especially if you’re on your way to church, you want your kids to know how to “You are clean. Stay clean!” Because you don’t know when the next rest stop is going to be. Zechariah 13:1, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.” God has promised to offer this fountain for you and me. Hebrews 9:14, “How much more then shall the blood of Christ who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spots to God cleanse your conscience?”

Not only does He clean our hearts, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got things in my mind I wish I could forget. I’ve got things I’ve done I wish I could forget. Memories, experiences, things I’ve seen. I just want God to cleanse me. Cleanse my mind. Cleanse our hearts. “Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Don’t you prefer to use clean tools? Especially if you’re doing brain surgery, right? You wouldn’t want someone to pick up a dirty chainsaw to do brain surgery on you. You’d want it to be clean. I’m sorry, friends. I know I have a morbid sense of humor. I do these things sometimes just to see is anyone listening to me? “Sleep with clean hands either kept clean by day by integrity or washed clean by night by repentance.” But we can all sleep with clean hands “when our hands are clean our eye is clear.” Better said, “when our hearts are clean our eye is clear.” You can be cleansed or defiled through association.

I remember my dad used to say, “If you sleep with the dogs, you get fleas.” And I think we all know that bad company breeds bad manners. Evil and dirtiness can be received by association. You ever thought about cleanliness through association? It’s not as easy but it works with Jesus. Through association with Christ we are cleansed. You remember what Peter said after he saw Jesus fill his nets and he realized he was in the presence of such a holy powerful man? He fell down at His feet and he said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” When we’re in the presence of Christ our sins become so distinct because He is Light and when you draw close to the Light you become aware of your darkness. What did Jesus say, “Do not fear. Follow me” and you’ll catch men. In other words, you follow me and through association I will change your heart. Yes, you are a sinful man, but through association you can be cleansed.

There’s an interesting story. It’s about a hundred years old now written in a book by Brett Hart. It’s called The Luck of Roaring Camp. And it’s the story about Roaring Camp was one of the most notorious mining towns in California. Gun fights, murders, sabotage, stealing claims all the time. I mean, it was just a real, rough, dirty, wicked mining camp. There was one woman in the mining camp and she cooked and served the men in a variety of ways. Her name was Cherokee Sue. She got pregnant. Died giving birth to a little baby boy. Now this was back when California was still very remote in the 1840’s and it was quite a distance between settlements, a lot of wilderness. And here these rough men are up there with a little baby. Well a few of them had been exposed to raising children in their lives and knew what to do. They didn’t have any milk but they did have a female donkey that was nursing a colt and so they started milking the donkey and giving this little baby they named Tommy the mare’s milk. And it seemed to do, thrive on the milk. They put it in a candle box surrounded with some of the rags, the denim rags they had. And you know?

That little baby there, in that environment just didn’t look right so they had a meeting. It’s interesting. They stopped fighting. They all felt some joined responsibility for this baby and they said, “Look, we can’t leave this baby. This is a baby in a candle box. Zeb, you go on down to Sacramento.” And he went eighty miles round trip to Sacramento to buy a rosewood cradle. And he comes back with a cradle. So they put the baby in the cradle but it’s surrounded with rags and they sent another one over to Redding or one of the other towns to buy some linen and some silk and they wrapped the baby up and they put it in the silk. And then they started looking around the cradle and they said, “Uh, this floor is filthy!” They started to level and plane the floor and to wash the floor. Then they’d bring the baby out because it would be sleeping and they needed someone to watch the baby and they stopped their cursing and yelling because it would wake the baby up. They all became a little more quiet. And as the baby was sitting there in its rosewood cradle next to the mine they said, “This is a pretty bleak environment. All these tailings from our diggings.

Just dirt everywhere. Red, why don’t you plant some flowers?” And so they started planting some flowers around the entrance of the mine and by what was once the saloon. Little by little the whole environment began to change. Their attitudes began to change. They’d give the baby little rattles and toys that they’d made and they’d put their filthy hands down by the little baby’s clean white hands and they had no idea that their hands were so dirty until they saw them next to the hands of a baby. And they thought, “We can’t touch a baby with hands like that” and they started washing their hands. And the whole atmosphere of this camp was transformed by the introduction of the purity of a baby. As Jesus the Son of God is introduced into our hearts and lives it has a purifying influence.

You know there is a story in the Bible about a man who is “full of leprosy.” Leprosy was considered the scourge of the day. And this man it says was “full of leprosy” decomposing, filthy, probably had a cloud of flies following him. Wearing rags that were covered with rotten flesh and I hope I’m painting a good picture for you. This man was dirty. And in spite of that he came to Jesus. Now the average person in that condition if they touched a clean person they would transmit their disease. If a leper touched a clean person the clean person became contaminated. But this man went up to Jesus, and he knew that Christ had a powerful reverse influence. And he said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus could have spoken the word, but you know what it says? He reached out and touched him and He said, “I am willing Be thou clean.” Now this is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Instead of Jesus becoming a leper that man became clean. Doesn’t make sense.

Usually, you know, it seems like evil influence is so easily transferred, but here in this story purity was transferred by touching Christ. As we touch Christ He is saying to you and me, we say, “Lord, if you want I can be clean.” He says, “I am willing. I want you to be clean.” He could have spoken the word, but He touched him and the man was cleansed. That’s still true today. You come to Jesus just like you are. You could be a hopeless leper dying from your disease and through association with Christ you can be cleansed whiter than snow. Isn’t that good news, friends? The Lord says He wants you to be clean. Now remember that’s that same power, that intrinsic power in that statement when the Lord said, “Let there be light,” there was light. Let there be land, there was land. And when the Lord says, “Be thou clean.” It’s an enabling command. He’s saying, “Be clean.” You are clean. There’s creative power in the word of God and that Word that says “Be clean” to the leper says “Be clean” to you and me. He cleanses us where you really are clean. You become a new creature. Old things are passed away. Would you like to experience that?

Now we’re not going to sing this now. What we’re going to sing now, you can reach for your hymnals, is 332, “The Cleansing Wave”. But there’s another song that I used to love. It’s not in the hymnbook. “Clean before the Lord I stand and in me not one blemish does He see.” That’s what I want. I want to be clean in His presence. Isn’t that your prayer? But now let’s stand together. We’re going to sing 332, “The Cleansing Wave”.

Before we go to the last verse I think it would be appropriate this morning to have an appeal, an invitation. There may be some of you here who have not yet experienced the cleansing that comes from the blood of the lamb. You’d like to know that you’re clean. You start on the inside and then He begins to work on the outside and the environment. Amen? But you come as you are to Jesus and He will apply His own blood. He will touch you and say, “Be clean.” And you can be cleansed. Have you been missing that? If you don’t have that experience and you’d like it before you leave today come, we’ll pray with you as we sing verse four.

Father in Heaven, Lord, we are so thankful for the Good News that we can come to Jesus just as we are and He offers to cleanse us. Cleanse our hearts, cleanse our minds through Your blood, through Your Spirit that we might be washed by the Word. And Lord, I pray that each of us here can experience that internal cleansing that we know will then react in every other cleansing. I pray, Lord, that we can be a people that will represent You not only by clean faces and smiles and clean homes and cars but also, Lord, by having clean hearts and clean minds. We know the pure in heart will see you and, Lord, we want to be in that group. These things we ask in the name of Your Son. Amen.

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