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Little children are taught very early on to wash their hands and take a bath. Cooks and doctors have to cleanse their hands frequently to avoid germs and contamination.  Cleaning products often take up whole aisles in a grocery store.  There are usually several companies in bigger towns that clean and sanitize a home after a fire or flood.  What a task that must be and no doubt it requires repeated application of germicides and paint to cleanse the physical damage.

In the Old Testament cleansing the physical effects of leprosy and other skin diseases involved extreme rituals by a priest.  In the 14th chapter of Leviticus we see a complicated and repetitious procedure. It involved birds, lambs, cedar wood, scarlet yarn, hyssop, fresh water, flour, olive oil and blood.  The person who had suspicious spots had to totally shave hair from the body and bathe over an extended period. The priests applied oil and blood to the ears, thumbs and big toe of the person. Many of these acts resemble the sacrifices made to roll back sins.  God was continually trying to teach His people to see the difference between the clean and the unclean both in the physical and spiritual.

For those living under the New Covenant there are a few similarities to the Old Testament such as blood, water and sacrifice.  Instead of the sacrificial blood of an animal, Christians are cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pe 1:19).  Other verses speak of forgiveness of sins, (Mt 26:28) atonement through faith in His blood (Rom 3:25), and redemption through His blood (Eph 1:17).  The water of immersion puts one into Christ (Rom 6:3-6) (Gal 3:26-27) and gives one the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and washes one clean spiritually and frees him/her of sins (Acts 22:16) (1 Pe 3:21).

Unlike the person who was ceremonially cleansed after a period of isolation and elaborate ritual, the new babe in Christ is immediately and spiritually cleansed.  The new Christian never needs to repeat this cleansing over and over.  One becomes a co-heir with Christ and a child of God (Rom 8:15-17) as long as one continues to walk in the light (I John 1:7).

Jim Bailey

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