In an old Dennis the Menace cartoon, Dennis is holding a handful of beautiful flowers and he asks Mr. Wilson, “How can something so pretty and clean come out of the dirt?”
When you think about it, that question applies to every Christian. I have a word of encouragement for you taken from these magnificent words from John, the beloved apostle: “. . . the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 NLV).
Notice that John did not say that Jesus’ blood “will cleanse us from all sin” or “shall cleanse us from all sin,” but rather Christ’s blood does cleanse us from all sin. The Greek verb katharizo, which our English Bibles render as cleanses or purifies, is in the present tense, meaning that the blood of Jesus is continually cleansing us from all sin. Take this truth to heart, believer, because in it you will discover a joy that can be found in no other place. All those who have placed their trust in Christ’s atoning sacrifice were cleansed at the moment of salvation, and they continue to be cleansed each day, moment by moment, in spite of the dirt that still remains.
I meet far too many Christians who have never fully appropriated this truth. Because you and I are sinners, both by nature and by habit, we still have some remaining “dirt” even after we have, by grace through faith, been cleansed from all unrighteousness. Many Christians are acutely aware of their ongoing unrighteousness; they hope to be cleansed . . . someday. They hope to be forgiven of all of their sins. They hope to enter into their eternal rest.
Yet this hope is actually a false gospel. The hope that Scripture exhorts us to embrace is a confident expectation, not the tenuous hope expressed by phrases like, “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow” or “I hope God will forgive me for all I’ve done.” Read these words and hold fast to them: Scripture tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ washed us clean from all sin at the moment we first believed. John’s glorious promise assures us that we are not cleansed from some sins, or most sins, but from all sin! Every sin in your life — past, present and still to come — has been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, who paid the full and final price for all our sins.
Take a moment to marinate in this truth. It will give you a peace that passes all understanding and propel you into God’s promised and perfect plan for your life. We should carry no baggage from our past, which is one of the sharpest darts that Satan employs to pierce our hearts and cause us to focus more on ourselves than our Savior.
Satan would have loved for Peter to carry the baggage of denying Christ three times during that awful night of Jesus’ betrayal. Peter could have been so burdened with guilt and shame that he would never have been able to get on with God’s plan for his life. But Jesus made sure Peter’s past would not define his present and future. Asking Peter three times if he loved Him (John 21:15-17) was our Lord’s way of telling Peter (and us) that his three denials had been cleansed by the atoning blood of the Lamb.
Christian, you and I deny Christ every day. We deny Him with our anxiety and anger, our self-righteousness and self-centeredness, our unbelief and unforgiveness. The record of our sins is much, much longer than you and I could ever imagine, and it should cause us to do as Peter did — to weep bitterly. Yet regardless of how many or how terrible our sins are, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all of it.
This fount of every blessing removes both the baggage of our past and the failures in our present, which frees us to walk by faith into the Promised Land that God has set before us. Yes, dear one, you and I are clean and beautiful, just like Dennis’ beautiful flowers—in spite of our dirt—and that is a truth that truly sets us free. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that . . . Amen.
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.