Sermon 1921. Cleansing-a Covenant Blessing
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Then will I sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols, I willcleanse you." Ezekiel 36:25.
THIS is one of the opening words of the glorious Covenant of Grace. Ezekiel's copy of the Covenant is full and clear and deservesto be written in letters of gold and hung up in the best chamber of every Believer's dwelling This is the Magna Charta ofsaints-the title deed of the land of our inheritance! Glorious Covenant of Grace, our heart delights in every line of promisewherewith you are enriched!
You perceive that this promise deals with sin and it deals with sin because sin broke the first Covenant and thus ruined usall. Sin must be removed before Covenant relationship can be reestablished. Sin must be purged from the conscience beforeCovenant communion can be enjoyed. Sin must be abhorred before Covenant union can be consummated. Blessed be God, sin shallbe washed away, for thus it is written in the Everlasting Covenant!
Sin is the great plague and pest of our lives, now that we are awakened to discern between good and evil, and now that thenew heart and the right spirit have been put within us. Is it not well that this cause of misery should be destroyed? It issin, my Brothers and Sisters, that keeps us away from God. Should not this barrier be utterly broken down and swept out ofthe way? It was because of sin that we needed to be reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Should not that atoning deatheffectually kill sin? Sin has done all the mischief. At first it withered Paradise and sowed the earth with thorns and thistles.And ever since it has brought forth the same painful crop. Still it saps our strength; it destroys our comfort; it robs usof usefulness-it is the foe of all good-it is all evils in one. O curse of curses, fountain of Hell and father of the devil,you unutterably horrible monster, Sin! Shall we not be doubly blessed when we are rid of you? We certainly should never feardeath if we had no sin-neither need we even fear the devil, himself, for, if there were no traitor within the city, Mansoulmight laugh to scorn all the attacks of her enemies outside.
Sin, to the awakened sinner, is his burden, his misery, his horror. It is a nightmare which haunts him! He can never escapefrom it. Like David, he cries, "My sin is ever before me." Even when sin is forgiven, the memory of it often makes a man gosoftly all his days. We could bear disease if we were cured of sin. We could bear the world's troubles if there were not thesespiritual sorrows. We could be content to pine in prison on bread and water all the rest of our natural lives if we couldbe clear from sin. Yes, I guarantee you that the darkest dungeon would be a bright paradise to a Believer, if there he couldbe exempt from the temptation, from the remembrance and from the presence of sin! It is, therefore, a very blessed thoughton the part of our God to make the Covenant to bear so much upon our sin and our sinfulness-and especially to make it openwith this unconditional promise of infinite love-"Then will I sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean: from allyour filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you." As the laver at the Tabernacle door, so stands this promiseat the entrance of the Covenant. Let us wash and be clean.
I. Our first remark at this time shall be that GOD BEGINS TO DEAL WITH HIS PEOPLE WHILE THEY ARE YET IN SIN. The text evidentlyimplies this. He does not wait until they are clean before He bestows His love and pity upon them. He does not wait till theyhave saved themselves and then comes to them with a nominal salvation. He does not make promises of purification to them uponcondition that they cleanse themselves, but He comes to them according to the riches of His Grace, even when they are deadin trespasses and sins! He finds them in all their defilement, rebellion and iniquity-and He deals with them just as theyare. Jesus saves sinners! God's love comes to those who in no degree merit it. His Grace stoops to the ruin of the Fall andlifts us up from it.
These are very simple words, you say, but there are those here to whom these plain sentences will sound like the ringing ofthe silver trumpets of jubilee! I know them, for I once was one of them-they are a people sighing because of their defilementwhich they mourn over, but cannot remove. Dear Hearts, you have not to look for any good in yourselves when you come to God-youare to come just as you are. However filthy, however enslaved by idols you may have been, however much your own heart condemnsyou, you are to come to Jesus on terms, not of merit, but of Grace! And you are to approach Him as sinners, without any furtherqualification. Christ is a Savior who came to save His people from their sins. And His salvation, therefore, begins with themwhile they are yet in their sins. He does not wait till He spies out some sound spot in the patient, but when he is coveredall over with leprosy from head to foot-and there is not one sound speck on him as big as the point of a pin-then it is thatthe Great Physician comes and makes the leprous one to be clean!
This is plain enough, if you will look at the text, for, first, it is clear that those to whom God makes His promise of HisCovenant are unclean and unfit for fellowship with Him. He speaks of their filthiness, yes of, "all their filthiness," sothat there was much of it, for God's "alls" are, by no means, trifles. There were also idols about and many of them, for Hespeaks of "all your idols." These are abominations unto the Lord, but there they are, and they must be put out of the way.He says, "Then will I sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean." Not, "You are clean and, therefore, you may cometo Me," but, "I will come to you and make you clean."
Some time ago we explained the type of the ashes of the red cow, how they were kept in water, ready to be used and appliedto all persons who became ceremonially unclean. After this water had been sprinkled upon them, they were permitted to returnto the camp and go up to the Lord's Tabernacle. But until that purification had been applied, they were shut out from fellowshipwith God and His people. The people of God could not converse with them. The priest of God could not commune with them. God,Himself, would have nothing to do with them. They were unclean and so were set aside under a kind of quarantine not to comenear the camp lest the rest of the people should be polluted by them.
Now that is just where God finds His people when He begins with them. They are not fit for communion. They are not fit thatthe saints of God should associate with them, nor that they should stand in the Holy Place of the Most High. They are notfit for any service, for the Lord will not have the unclean to bear His vessels. Their prayers are defiled; their praisesare defiled; there is nothing about them but what is unclean. In such a condition the man could do nothing acceptable to God-hisuncleanness put him out of court and rendered him altogether incapable of pleasing the pure and holy God. He that was uncleanmade everything unclean that he touched-the pollution was most contagious. If he sat upon a chair, no one else might sit there,for the seat was unclean. If he touched a vessel in the tent, the vessel was unclean and the tent was unclean! He was a sourceof defilement and wherever he went, he spread pollution. Such is every sinner in the sight of God. He is a well of foul waters,a fountain of bitterness. He is defiled and defiling. The God of all Grace visits His people at the first when they are inthis terrible condition!
I may be speaking to one who is ready to cry out, "I am not fit to be in the House of God tonight. I am not worthy to liftmy eyes to the place where His honor dwells." That is where He finds you-just there-and it is to you in this sad positionthat the Covenant of Grace refers. Our Redeemer comes to us in our very worst estate! As I was speaking to an aged Brotherin Christ, who is, probably, very near Home, he said, "I feel what a blessed thing it is to still come to Christ with thecry, 'God be merciful to me, a sinner.' I do not rest upon past experience, nor upon anything else, but I constantly beginat the beginning. I come to Jesus even as I did at the first, only more humbly and with a more intense sincerity than I everknew before."
I am sure there is wisdom in this course and in no other. If the Covenant of Grace did not deal with sinners as sinners, Ishould be afraid to come to Christ. But because it opens its mouth wide to me while I am yet unclean and polluted by sin,I feel that it meets my case. The Free Grace of the Covenant does not come half way and say to me, when I am nearly dead,"Get up and take what I give you and I will deliver you." But it comes, like the good Samaritan, where I am. It sees me tobe unconscious and it awakens me. When it sees me conscious of my wounds, it pours in the oil and the wine. When it sees myweakness to be so great that I cannot stir a step, it sets me on its own beast and takes me to the inn. When it marks my utterpoverty, so that I am not worth so much as two pence, it does not ask me to pay my own way, but discharges everything forme and leaves its promise that whatever more is needed shall be freely given! O blessed charity of
Covenant Love! It will not be turned aside by our abominable filthiness, nor will it leave us because of our idols! GloriousGrace, which begins with us where sin and death have left us!
You may notice in the text, or gather it from it by clear inference-that these people with whom God dealt were not only unclean,but they could not cleanse themselves. It is a rule with miracles, as well miracles of the Spirit as miracles of the body,that God never does what others can do. As long as there is strength left in the natural laws, God does not go beyond them,but our extremity is God's opportunity. Now, inasmuch as the text brings in God saying, "then will I sprinkle clean wateron you and you shall be clean," it is clear that this evil could not be cleansed without the Divine interposition. There wasno other way for the purging of the chosen ones but by the direct interposition of the Lord! Oh, but divines have fine notionsnowadays! It appears, according to the latest information, that children are not now born in sin as they used to be! Theysay that certain highly favored children commence life in a most extraordinary way-they are born gracious! They do not needany degeneration or conversion, for the stock is so superior that the branches naturally bring forth good fruit!
I have never read of such people in the Scriptures, but I am often told that there are such, nowadays. At least their parentsand their parsons say so. Of old it used to be, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and only, "that which is bornof the Spirit is spirit." That, of course, is very old-fashioned doctrine! Well, when we have a new-fashioned god, I daresay we shall have new-fashioned truth-but at present, the Truth of God seems to me to be as Immutable as God Himself! If itis true, today, it was true yesterday and will be true even to the end, even as God, Himself, changes not. As for myself,I know that I was born in sin and I know that in me, that is in my flesh, there dwells no good thing. I know, also, that Ionce tried to purge and cleanse my own heart and labored at it, I believe, as honestly as any person that lived. I went aboutto seek a righteousness of my own and I endeavored to stop all sin-and my failure was complete!
I do not advise any other person to try self-healing. It brought me to despair. It drove me, almost, to the loss of reason.The more I scrubbed and cleansed, the blacker I became. I washed my Hottentot self and he was more of a Hottentot after Ihad bathed him than he was before! I only saw how black the black man was when I had whitened him, for the moment, with mysoap. Job said, "If I wash myself with snow water and make my hands never so clean; yet shall You plunge me in the ditch andmy own clothes shall abhor me." And it was so with me. Therefore I speak of my own experience and, taught by my own failure,I cannot urge any man to seek cleansing by his own doings or efforts, but I urge him to accept that cleansing which God haspromised in the Covenant of Grace.
Cleansing cannot come from any other place, therefore seek it of the Lord who says, "I will sprinkle clean water on you andyou shall be clean." If you go about through Heaven, earth and Hell, you shall find no other detergent that shall take awaysin but the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You shall sooner redden every wave of the Atlantic as you plungeyour hands in it than you shall take away one spot of condemnation from off your soul! There is your sin and there it musteternally be unless Jehovah, Himself, shall blot it out! He that is filthy shall be filthy still, throughout the ages, unlessthe Divine One interpose. Our only hope lies in this faithful Word of God, "I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shallbe clean." The Lord begins to save His people when as yet they have no strength and cannot cleanse themselves.
More than that, when God begins to deal with His people, many of them have a special filthiness. "From all your filthinessand from all your idols, I will cleanse you." When He begins with them, they are given up to their idols. Other lords havedominion over them and these lords lead them into filthiness. Some upon whom God has looked with everlasting love have become,before their conversion, openly, manifestly, loathsomely filthy-and yet He begins in His Grace with them! The harlot-she straysinto the House of God and feels that she has no right to be there-and yet the day comes when she stands behind the Master,washing His feet with her tears and wiping them with the hairs of her head because she has had much forgiven. The man whohas been guilty of foul vices, of which we say but little, but which he would gladly weep over with tears of blood at theirremembrance-when the Lord of Love comes to such a horrible offender in a way of mercy, He says to him, even to him, "I haveblotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins."
I am afraid I do not always speak plainly enough, though I try to do so. Let me try again to cast in the big net. The LordJesus Christ forgives thieves and robbers, liars and drunks and criminals of all sorts. The Lord Jesus has mercy upon thosewho have been blasphemers. "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." I have seen, with great
joy, cases of infidels who have mocked at the Scriptures, denied the Deity of Christ and persecuted God's people-they havestepped in and heard the Gospel and they have been melted down by it-rescued from their obstinacy and cleansed from theiriniquity! In fact, there are such here tonight! "Such were some of you: but you were washed." Oh, it is not for me to tellall that I know of how the Lord has taken some of the ringleaders in the service of Satan, first in all manner of mischief,and has cast the devil out of them and made them to sit at His feet, clothed and in their right mind! We believe in a sinners'Gospel. To the guilty we preach remission!
The heathen of old once reported that ours was the religion of the most abandoned. They laughed at Christianity, for theysaid it was like the building of Rome when Romulus received everybody that was in debt and discontented-and all the criminalsfrom all the towns round about came to make the city of Rome! There is much truth in the statement- it is a very good figure,though meant to be a slander. The Lord does receive the devil's runaways. If there is one here that is servant to that blackmaster, I would recommend him to run to Christ tonight and not give his master five minutes' notice. Quit the tyrant's employmentand run for it at once!
But then look at this-the Lord receives sinners to cleanse them. He does not receive them that they may remain as they were!The Lord Jesus receives sinners just as teachers receive children into a Ragged School. It is their glory that it is a RaggedSchool! The more ragged and the more dirty, the more welcome the child! But why do they receive the ragged child? Why, towash him, to teach him, to clothe him, to instruct him! We do not receive ragged children for the love of their rags, norto keep them in their rags-but that they may be taught, cleansed and elevated. Such is my Master's house of mercy! It is ahospital-sick folk are always welcome. It is not a place for spreading disease, nor for treating it light-ly-it is the placewhere disease is discovered, set apart and made to appear in all its horror-in order that it may be conquered and destroyed!Nobody speaks so sternly against sin as Jesus and those who believe His Gospel, but yet it forever stands true, "This Manreceives sinners." You may come to Jesus, dear Friend, whoever you are! Into whatever sin and iniquity you have plunged, youmay come right now without any hesitation or deliberation, for the gate stands wide open and the blessed Lord, with His nailprints still in His hands, stands there to welcome you and say, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, andI will give you rest. Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
Still is that declaration grandly true, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." Still does God meetmen while they are yet in the blackness and filth and degradation of their sin and then and there, just as they are, He saysconcerning them, "I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols,I will cleanse you." O poor wretched sons of Adam, how earnestly would I invite you to Christ! I preach a Savior for the worstand vilest of you! Oh that you would come to Him! I know your house. It is stuffed full with idols of one sort or another.You delight in strong drink! That is your Moloch, or, perhaps, some sin of the flesh has fascinated you and carried you away-andyour house is ruled by Venus and Bacchus and other dunghill deities! Ah me, what chambers of imagery there are in this city!Notwithstanding all that, the Lord of Love will come to your house with His salvation, turn those idols out and reign in theirplace! Your life, it may be, is full of filthiness and as you sit here you are remembering it to your heart's sorrow. Be ofgood cheer, you broken down ones, for the Lord Jesus will come to you just as you are and put your filthiness away!
Do not think that I am talking, now, only to those who have been grossly immoral, though I do speak to them most certainlyin literal terms. But even to those who have never sinned after that similitude I speak at this time. Thank God, there aresome who have been kept by the restraints of education from ever going into the more outwardly filthy sins. It was so in mycase. I might claim as to most actual sins to be blameless, but, oh, if there ever was a wretch on earth that felt his filthinessmore than I did, I pity him! I loathed myself-utterly so. How often I wished that I had never been born! It seemed horribleto me that such a being should have lived at all. To have lived so long in sin and unbelief seemed still more a marvel-andthough I was not then, 15, it appeared horrible to have lived so long without loving Christ! What an awful wretch I judgedmyself to be to have been surrounded with such mercy and not to have thought of my
Is was shocking beyond measure to have lived those years without love, without trust, without delight in God. I felt myselfto be so foul and filthy a thing that I ought to be cast into the common sewer of the universe and swept away. But, oh, thisblessed Word of God-"From all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you." This is spoken as
only God can speak! See, then, how God begins with us, just where we are, to the praise of the Glory of His own Grace. Somuch upon our first head.
II. The second is this-that GOD PROVIDES FOR THE CLEANSING OF THOSE TO WHOM HE COMES IN SOVEREIGN GRACE. "I will sprinkleclean water upon you." He does not ask them to find the purification, but He brings it Himself. Where could this "clean water"be found by mortal man? Though he should climb up to the heights of the Alps to melt the virgin snows, or descend into thedeep which couches beneath where come the sparkling springs, yet he could find no "clean water" that could take out the stainof sin! God Himself provides-it is His way-in the mount it shall be seen that He is Jehovah Jireh. The type is carried outin its antitype in this way-that God has provided a system of cleansing men, perfect in itself, just, right and effectual.Pure water is the best of purifiers and the Lord has provided that which is the most sure purification from sin. When, underthe old Mosaic Law, they took water, scarlet wool and hyssop-and sprinkled the unclean, he was ceremonially cleansed-and now,under the Gospel, God has provided a wondrous way by which, being Himself perfectly pure, He can put away the impurities ofour nature and the iniquities of our lives.
It is a righteous way. Do you need that I explain to you the way in which God puts away our filthiness? Whether you do ornot, there are many who do and, therefore, we must have the Gospel over again. You put bread and salt on your table at everymeal and even so, every sermon should have the Gospel in it! God must be just. Even if He would forgive sin, He must stillbe just. Sin must not go unpunished. It would be ruinous that such a thing should be. Therefore the Lord took sin and laidit on His Son, that His Son might bear what was due for our transgressions. This, the Lord Jesus did as our Substitute andSavior. "He His own Self bore our sins in His own body on the tree." He made a full Atonement and Expiation for the guiltof men so that, "whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
In addition to that, God has given the Holy Spirit as a gift of Christ on His Ascension-and that Holy Spirit is here to renewmen in their hearts, to take away from them the love of sin, to give them a new life, to create in them a new heart and aright spirit-and so to change their inward longings and desires that their outward conduct shall become altogether differentfrom what it was before. Here are two cleansings-the blood of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit-and these are as cleanwater. God can justly forgive you, my fellow sinner! And God can totally change you and make you to be as though you had beennew-born, tonight, and were now to begin afresh. You see it is a clean way which God has devised-there is nothing in it whichfavors wrong or injustice.
And what a simple way it is, as well as clean! "I will sprinkle clean water upon you." The application of the blood of JesusChrist to the conscience and the coming of the Holy Spirit to the heart are as simple as the sprinkling of water. The wisdomof God made the rite by which the leper was cleansed under the Law very simple, but even more simple is the act by which Godapplies the merit of His dear Son to us. Oh, that we might have the blood of Jesus sprinkled on our hearts at once by faith!Oh to feel the Blood of Sprinkling to which every Believer in Christ has come-the blood that "speaks better things than thatof Abel!" It is a very simple way.
It is a way of universal adaptation, too, for wherever there is a soul on whom God has looked with love, He can apply to thatsoul the Blood of Sprinkling. Whoever you may be, you cannot cleanse yourself, but God can sprinkle you with this clean water!He can save you by the merit of His Son and by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. No one is outside of this possibility, forthe blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. If you are guilty, tonight, and you cry for mercy, that mercycan come at you and you can come at that mercy, for so has the Lord put it-"Then will I sprinkle clean water on you and youshall be clean."
It is a way of unfailing efficacy, for He says, "From all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you." Hedoes not only attempt the cleansing but He accomplishes it. You may have a thousand sins, but this clean water can put thethousand sins away. Your heart may be a very pandemonium of idols, but the power of the Holy Spirit can break them all topieces and can do it for you at once. The, "then," of the text has to do with the time when Israel was full of sin. It hasto do with such a time as there is with you unconverted men and women at this hour. Now, even now, in the midst of your filthinessand your idolatry, God can come with a high hand and an outstretched arm and commence the work by which you shall be perfectlydelivered! Though your heart is like the Augean stable, the labors of Hercules shall be outdone by the wonders of Jesus! Heshall cast your sins into the depths of the sea. Your hardness of heart, your pride, your lust, your unbelief, your enmity,your fickleness shall all go down at a stroke, as when Dagon fell before the Ark of
God. Oh, do it, Lord! Do it, we pray You, with many that have strayed into the Tabernacle tonight, that Your name may havethe Glory!
Thus we have come so far and we see clearly that God begins with His people in their filthiness and provides the means oftheir cleansing.
III. Thirdly, GOD HIMSELF APPLIES THIS MEANS OF CLEANSING. See how He puts it-"Then will I sprin-kle"-"I sprinkle clean wateron you and you shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you."
Ah, dear Sirs! If God had only provided the medicine, but had never brought it to us, we could not have found it, reachedit, or applied it! If He had made the plaster and had left it by the side of the wounded man, the poor wretch would have died,for he never could have laid it to his own wound. The same Grace which "first devised the way to save rebellious man" carriesout all the plan from the beginning to the end! Who can sprinkle clean water on the foul sinner? "I will do it," says theLord. I am sure that I speak to many Brothers and Sisters here whose experience will bear out what I am going to say-it wasthe Lord who made us first to feel that we were filthy and that we loved idols. We were very fine people once-were we not?Our own righteousness was quite as good as that of anybody else and a little better. If we had sinned, we had a great manyexcuses for our failings and, besides, we always meant to be so good, by-and-by! Therefore we felt that we ought not to becondemned, but rather to be commended!
The Lord fetched us down from the tree and made us lie at the bottom of it and cry for mercy. We would still have refusedto taste of His mercy and we would have perished in our sin if Divine Grace had not convinced us of our folly. Some of youremember when the Lord first revealed to you how much you needed to be cleansed-that discovery was a great part of the cleansing.Then did it not seem to you impossible that you could be cleansed from so much defilement? It seemed to me-I dare say it didto you-the most extraordinary thing in the world to believe in Jesus! I could not make it out. How could I get to Christ?I could see that He was a Savior. I could see that He saved others and I was glad that He did. But the thing was, how couldI ever come to be personally a partaker of His power to save?
I heard about that woman touching the hem of the garment and I felt that if Christ were before me, I would touch the hem ofHis garment with my finger, but I could not understand how I was to touch Him spiritually. To this day the simplest thingunder Heaven is perverted by our evil hearts into difficulty and mystery! Faith is as clear as the sun, yet many make it asdark as midnight. Our hearers are ingenious at misunderstanding us when we speak of faith. I tried, one evening, to explainfaith as simply as I could and I quoted that verse of Dr. Watts-
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Christ's kind arms I fall."
A young man came to me afterwards and said that he could not fall. This perplexed me, for I thought such an assertion wasimpossible! It may be hard to stand, but it is easy to fall. Falling does not require strength, but the very reverse. I intendedto express the abnegation of all doing and all effort and the yielding all into the hands of Christ. But my young friend couldnot see it, nor could I make him comprehend it. All electric light would be of no use to stone-blind eyes. O God, it is asmuch a miracle of Your Grace to give us faith as to give us a Savior to believe in! And he that has faith knows that it isso. Despite the simplicity of faith, no man ever would have savingly believed in Jesus Christ if the Lord had not guided himand led him into that faith.
Oh yes, the clean water is provided, but the clean water must be sprinkled by another hand than ours if we are to be cleansed!Are we not witnesses of this? Do we not acknowledge that when, at last, we were made clean through the precious blood of Christ,the closing act of faith was worked in us by the Holy Spirit? That was no small thing, that passing from death unto life,that being washed in the fountain filled with blood. Neither was the faith a trifle which brought us that washing-all, allwas of Grace! I have heard a great deal about human free will. I never felt any inclination to ascribe the great blessingof confidence in Christ and consequent full justification to any uncreated willingness of mine. I was "made willing in theday of His power"-and to God I must give the Glory! Oh, that bright, that happy day when I could say-
"'Tis done! The great transaction's done! I am my Lord's and He is mine." At that day I could not help also saying, "He drewme"-
"He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice Divine." Yes, it is God that applies the power which purifies!
And all the way through the rest of life it is just the same. "All things are of God." If He that has brought me so far towardsHeaven does not help me throughout the rest of my journey, I must die even within sight of the promised land! If the Lordis not with you, even if you should get your foot upon the diamond doorstep of Heaven and your finger on the golden latch-youcould not enter! Without fresh Grace to carry us the rest of the way, all our previous journey is in vain. When we get toHeaven, it will be, "Glory be to God forever, and ever, and ever!" We shall not hum even a single note to ourselves for ourown glory, or on account of any part of the work for which we deserved credit-but we shall ascribe the whole of our salvationto infinite love, undeserved favor and to the unceasing faithfulness and power of our gracious Covenant God!
Let us come back to this blessed text and read it again-and then conclude our sermon with our last point-"Then will I sprinkleclean water on you and you shall he clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you."
' IV. I close with this last remark-THE LORD EFFECTUALLY CLEANSES ALL HIS PEOPLE.
First, He cleanses them from all their filthiness. I want to dwell on that for a minute. "From all your filthiness will Icleanse you." All of it. Oh, what a vast "all" that is! "All your filthiness." All the filthiness of your birth-sin; all thefilthiness of your natural temperament, constitution and disposition. "From all your filthiness will I cleanse you." All thefilthiness that came out of you in your childhood, that was developed in you in your youth, that still has vexed your manhoodand, perhaps, even now dishonors your old age. From all your actual filthiness, as well as from all your original filthiness,will I cleanse you. From all your secret filthiness and from all your public filthiness-from everything that was wrong inthe family; from everything that was wrong in the business; from everything that was wrong in your own heart-"From all yourfilthiness will I cleanse you."
From all your pride. What a filthy thing that is! From all your unbelief. What an abominable thing that is! From all yourtainted imaginations; from all your lusts; from all your wrong words; from all your covetousness; from all your murmuring;from all your anger; from all your malice; from all your envy; from all your distrust-"From all your filthi-ness will I cleanseyou."
Just read right down the Ten Commandments and then stop at each and say, "Lord, You have said, 'From all your filthiness willI cleanse you.' Lord, cleanse me in both ways-take away the evil of the sin, and take away my tendency to the sin-
'Let the water and the blood,
From His riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.'" Oh, Beloved, that seems to me to be so full of richness-"From all your filthiness willI cleanse you." Do not believe that any filthiness need stay upon you in practice. As to the matter of sanctification, donot say to yourself, "I cannot overcome this sin." You can! You must overcome all sin through Jesus Christ. "From all yourfilthiness will I cleanse you." Do not say to yourself, "I always was quick-tempered and I must always remain so, for thisis a part of my natural temperament." No! "From all your filthiness will I cleanse you." I know that a certain troop of oursins are hard to kill in battle and they need to be sharply looked after lest they continue to plague us. They get into thecave of our secret hearts and there they hide themselves away in great quietness, biding their time. They do not even whisper-andwe half fancy that they are dead. They are alive enough, as we shall soon see, if we are not awake to them.
If we are foolish, we are content to roll a big stone at the mouth of the cave, and let the rascals live in their den. Thisis dangerous work and when our Joshua comes to us, He puts an end to the perilous experiment! He cries, "Bring them out. Hangthem up before the sight of the sun, for these enemies must not live." God help us to never tolerate any known sin. We tooreadily fall into evil habits, but oh, for Grace to keep out of them. Do not excuse sin so much as to call it an "infirmity"-callit, rather, an infamy, and drive it from your presence! We do unguardedly yield to sin but, Brothers and Sisters, we mustnot excuse ourselves-we must seek with all our might to obtain perfect holiness. Oh, to know the fullness of this blessing-"Fromall your filthiness will I cleanse you."
And then it is added that we shall be cleansed "from all our idols." We are, all of us, idolaters by nature and by practice.The unregenerate man always has an idol. He will worship anything rather than his God. Yes, he will sooner worship himselfthan his Savior! Even the Christian may find, to his own surprise, that his dear Rachel whom he loves so much has managedto hide the idols away under the camel's furniture and she is, even now, sitting on them and concealing them. I do not knowan idol that is more apt to escape being broken than the idol that some beloved Rachel protects! But it must not be-"the idolsHe shall utterly abolish." God's way is, "From all your idols will I cleanse you." If there is anything, Beloved, that hasour love more than God, it is an idol and we must be purged from it.
This is not a threat, but a promise-it is a great blessing to have our images of jealousy put away. If you make an idol ofa child, either that child will die, or something else will happen which will make your idol to be your burden. If you wantto kill your husband, idolize him. If you desire ill to a beloved one, set him up in Christ's place. We can, alas, make idolsof baser things than these! We can love gold, or dress, or honor, or rank, or even a forbidden thing. We are so dull and carnalthat our affections are soon captured by earthly objects. Whatever it is that we idolize, God says, "I will cleanse you fromit." And I think that we can say, in response, "Lord, be it so"-
"The dearest idol I have known, Whatever that idol be, Help me to tear it from its throne, And worship only Thee." We haveno wish that any of our old lords should retain or regain dominion over us.
Now, poor Sinner! Do you see what the Lord can do with you? He can break you loose from your temptations. He can set you freefrom every sin that holds you in captivity. Jesus gives pardon and purity most freely. Trust Him to cleanse you and the workshall be surely done. Trust Him that hung upon the tree to redeem His people and you are delivered. Trust Him to sanctifyyou wholly by His Spirit and He will purify you till every spot and wrinkle is gone. It is His work to save His people fromtheir sins! Believe in Him and you shall triumph in His salvation!
May the Lord add His blessing, for Jesus' sake!