Are you old enough to remember this slogan: Have you had your Shower to Shower today? Or maybe you remember the old Irish Spring commercial slogan: Fresh and clean as a whistle. And then we’ve got: If it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be Tide. And, finally: You’re not fully clean until you’re Zestfully clean.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:18 through Leviticus 13:23, we have a very short reading about priests declaring people clean. The whole thing just talks about how to tell if a boil is clean by examining whether it is red, raw, swollen, has white hair, is dried out, etc. Each of the instructions either says the priest is to declare the person clean or unclean.
Without much to work with in these few verses, I am choosing to focus on the term “declared clean” because there is a difference in actually being clean and in being declared clean. Of course, if the person who is doing the declaring is honest, the two will mean the same thing. But what about when the declarer is not honest? Maybe it’s a preacher who’s just trying to get more money or accolades from the sheep, so he tickles the ears of any sheep that will give him a dollar bill or a pat on the back.
But the one that really worries me is the person who just doesn’t want to accept any kind of judgment (even personal accountability), so she declares herself clean (or saved) just because it seems easier than actually repenting. It would be like someone taking the dishwasher magnet above and turning it to say “clean” when the load has not been run through the dishwashing cycle. What good is it to put dirty dishes back into the cupboard just because the magnet says they’re clean?
I’ll close with this. We have promises of forgiveness in Scripture, and our promises are beyond what we deserve because of the wonderful blood of Christ. But declaring ourselves to have mercy without changing anything in our lives is not supported in any Scripture that I have found. To the contrary, we have abundant Scriptures that read like Proverbs 28:13 that says (in NLT)…
People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
Just as God told the priests how to determine if someone was clean before they declared the person clean, we have God’s precious word to speak to us now. If we confess our sins, it doesn’t say we are covered. If we forsake our sins, we haven’t been given promise. But, if we both confess AND forsake our sins, God’s promise is that we will be declared clean.
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