Christianese - Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Bill Morel
I grew up in church my entire life, so I have gotten a laugh or 2 out of this series that Matt is in. This week is one phrase I have always laughed at because I was taught years ago that it's not in the bible anywhere. However, many in Christianity and maybe even organized religions use this phrase, among others, to get us to "clean up our lives and live right." As Matt said, the problem with that is we completely miss that as Christians, we "live right" because Christ has cleaned us, not the other way around.  
 Matt outlined several scriptures referencing humans' wicked or deceitful hearts and inability to "live right." He started with Matthew 23, where Jesus is lighting into the religious leaders a bit because they dress up real nice and put their best self out there, but their hearts we full of "robbery and self-indulgence." Fake it till you make it never flew with Jesus. I laugh when Jesus made the Pharisees look foolish because they were the well-educated and "most knowledgeable" religious people of the day. Then Jesus, this "uneducated," "blue-collar" son of a carpenter, comes in and lines them out. No doubt they knew the story from 1 Samuel about him looking for the next king. They knew or should have known that God's focus is on the heart, not our looks or actions.  
In Acts 15, when Paul and Barnabas came to discuss the relevance of the law to Gentiles, it was the Pharisees again trying to apply the law to us where it didn't apply. This time Peter (a Jew) stood up and made it known that God cleansed the gentiles' hearts by faith. Earlier in Acts 10, God had shown Peter that Gentiles we not "unclean" as he ate with Cornelius and his family. After eating and hearing Cornelius's story, Peter said, in 10:34, he understood now that God doesn't show partiality. God prepared Peter through the chapter 10 experience so he would be ready for the discussion in chapter 15.
 When we boil it down, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is a phrase that highlights why here at Heritage, we put such emphasis on rightly dividing the truth. If you read Jerimiah 17 and just heard pastor Johnson tell you that "you better get circumcised and start livin' right" without understanding the context, then you may miss the conversation in Acts 15 or Romans 5:5. Matt's comparison to the "catch-all closet" was perfect. Left up to us, our lives would be like cleaning out that drawer or closet. Every time we mess up, we try to do better, again and again, until we are at the end of ourselves, and our closet is so full the door won't shut.
Jesus died for ALL the issues that we stuff behind other issues hoping people won't notice. God wants ALL our burdens. Our wicked old hearts from Jerimiah 17 and everything was buried with Christ.   When He rose, we rose with Him filled with the Love of Christ. Through Faith in Christ, He has turned our mess into His cleanliness, so we have the power to walk in Godliness as His ambassadors to the world.

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