What I have been trying to do over the past several posts is show that our flesh, formed and supported by the old way, continues to influence our thinking. We are supposed to resist the errors and lies the flesh presents, but they seem so familiar and others believe them. We get confused when we try to integrate the old thinking with the new. Law and grace do not mix. Trusting in your performance and trusting in Jesus do not mix. The way of the flesh must be rejected.
Understanding what Jesus has done for us and trusting in His work allow us to move past the old self-condemnation and the fear it brings. When I look at myself and see failure or compromise, then label myself with that failure or compromise, I do not speak truth. Even though I still do wrong things, those things do not define me. I am no longer identified by my sin.
There is an interesting word from Jesus in response to Peter’s exclamation at the foot-washing. You remember the story. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, Peter refused. He didn’t think it was proper for Jesus to wash his feet. But Jesus said that if He didn’t wash Peter, Peter would have no part in Him. Of course, Peter was shocked and asked Jesus to wash more than his feet, offering his head and hands as well. But then Jesus said,
… “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean…” John 13:10
This whole scene is rich with spiritual meaning. Here Jesus tells Peter that he had to let Jesus clean him if he wanted to receive eternal life, the life of Jesus. In other words, Peter needed to be saved. The old way would not be enough. But when Peter wanted to be cleaned again by Jesus, He told Peter that the new way is enough.
In other words, you must come to Jesus for cleansing. He will wash away your sin, break your connection with sin, and take away the guilt you had because of your sin. But once you are cleaned by Him, you don’t need to be cleaned again. What Jesus did for you is good forever.
The flesh has learned to see sin according to the old way. Sin was sneaky; you didn’t always know when you were doing it. Sin was dirty and stained you with its filth. Sin was inevitable; you couldn’t stop if you tried. Sin was fatal; one sin broke your relationship with God and condemned you to hell. And, listen: the flesh still sees sin that way.
But the Spirit knows the truth about sin. The Spirit sees sin as a defeated foe, the broken remnant of the old life. The Spirit sees sin as conquered in victory; it no longer stains us, no longer defines us, no longer condemns us. The Spirit sees sin as a vanishing and desperate force that calls to us with a weakening voice. Yes, it gets us to respond once in a while, but its power over us is gone and its allurement is fading. Eventually it will be gone from us forever.
You are clean because Jesus has made you clean. He says it again in the parable of the vine:
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3
But one passage that brings joy to my heart whenever I think of it is from the Lamentations of Jeremiah the prophet. No matter what he was going through, and he went through a lot, Jeremiah knew the truth:
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Every day with Jesus is a new day and a good day. Walking with Him brings us joy and peace, not shame or fear. Every day we rise clean and free and blessed!