WHAT GOD HATH CLEANSED
Acts 10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
As we have previously stated in our study of the Book of Acts, the matter at issue between the believing Jews and that of the believing Gentiles was the matter of holiness. Both believed and desired holiness, but the issue was how does one become holy? For the believing Jew had been brought up under a system that concerned itself with ceremonial holiness, while the holiness of Christ’s new kingdom was a spiritual holiness!
Let me clarify with an illustration. A surgeon entering into a sterile operating room is scrubbed and cleansed. He is probably more physically clean at that time than at any other time in his life! But what about his heart? Does greed, or malice, or prejudice lurk within? If it does, he is like unto the ceremonial holiness of the Jewish nation before Christ’s atonement was applied to make them spiritually clean! Remember – the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7).
Judas was as ceremonially clean as the Apostle Peter! For both obeyed the laws of separation from physical defilement. But listen at the Lord speaking concerning this matter. John 13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. For the Lord knew that although Judas was ceremonially clean from outward defilements, his heart was filled with the love of money, which is the root of all evil!
The Lord later speaks of the cleansing of the soul that takes place in his new, spiritual kingdom. John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. So it is not soap and water that makes a person spiritually clean. It is the washing of the soul by the Spirit’s word, like the washing of the body by water that cleanses the flesh.
Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Here also are verses of how the soul is cleansed by the Lord: 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Therefore, Peter, with his concept of cleansing being limited by ceremonial holiness, even rebukes God Himself by his three, “Not so, Lord’s!” And that is the same today! Legalistic religionists, having only a “works” concept of righteousness, always rebuke God within the hearts of those with “grace” righteousness, which has been imputed within them by the application of Christ’s atonement! For they believe themselves to be morally clean by what they do, and don’t do. Like Peter, they refuse fellowship with true believers simply on the basis of a legal righteousness.
And as previously stated, this legal attitude is directly from Satan himself! He tried to pull this kind of thing on our Lord in his temptations. He quoted the law to the Law Giver, misapplying it in an attempt to rule over God’s Lamb by guilt! The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy that these kinds of things are from seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils! (1 Tim. 4:1-4). And how many poor, unknowing believers are under such mind controlling systems in our land today! For they think themselves to be holy by works, not understanding that one works righteousness because he IS holy! For righteousness is not of works, but it most assuredly is unto good works! (Ephesians 2:8-10).
And Peter had strong reason to seek for ceremonial holiness. For it was strongly set forth by the law! Leviticus 18:24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: 27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 20:25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
But all this was to make national Israel ceremonially holy by separating themselves from fellowship with other nations, with whom they could not sit down and eat! For the holy nation of Exodus 19:6 is but the ceremonially holy, physical nation of Israel. Whereas that holy nation of which Peter comes to write in 1 Peter 2:9, is the spiritually holy church, washed in the Lamb’s blood! For she is spiritually holy! Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
For just as one may be cleaner than that surgeon, scrubbed and washed in his surgical arena, being cleansed inwardly by the washing of the blood of God’s Lamb, in the same way the true believer can only have his righteous exceed the Jewish ceremonial holiness.
The Lord also had his prophets prophesy of this greater righteousness. Here is but one passage: Zechariah 14:20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
The words, In that day speak of the day of Messiah’s spiritual kingdom. And then he states a most astounding thing! He actually states that the bells on horses in the new kingdom of grace righteousness would be as holy as the High Priest in that of the ceremonial holiness! For those words, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD, are found in the designing of the high priest’s garments by God! Exodus 28:36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. 38 And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD. When the Lord proclaimed that he made all things new, he meant far more than traditional religionists understand!
Then he sets forth that the pots and pans, not just those sanctified in the temple, but throughout Jerusalem and Judah, shall be as holy as those vessels in which the blood of the altar was contained! And so it is! Even the Gentiles, who were refused admittance into Israel’s temple, shall be more holy vessels than those ever used in the temple rites! 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
O my soul! And we are beset with great numbers of professed religionists who yearn to go back to those weak and beggarly elements of the law! (Gal. 4:9). But to do this is to throw away Christ and his completed sacrifice, which satisfied God and his law! What an abomination!
There is great danger in trying to maintain an outward ceremonial holiness at the expense of Christ’s imputed righteousness! There is a damning pride that always accompanies it! There is always an “us” and “them” attitude! Listen at Israel and let us beware, lest we commit the same crime against our own souls!
Jeremiah 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. 3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. 5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; 6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
In the following passage the Lord sets forth that it is but lying to ones own soul to say that just because we have a religious organization, originally given us by God that we are secure from judgment!
Micah 3:11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. 12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
And in this passage in Micah we are given to see that no matter just how rotten the souls of the men are, who are within these religious systems, there is, due to ceremonial holiness, due to external rules and procedures, the false notion that, none evil can come upon us! But they, like those of Noah’s day, knew not until the flood came and took them all away!
There is a great danger in arenas of external, ceremonial holiness, where the ministries have come to be part of the problem. “Healing” the hurt of the convicting Spirit, so that full mortification of the carnal impulses is prevented, is a detrimental matter! Jeremiah 8:11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. For it is an irreversible thing, of massive and eternal destruction to the souls of practicing religionists, for God to curse that which he intended to be a blessing to us!
Malachi 2:2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
Pastor Gene Breed