Last night as my 7 year old daughter was getting ready to go to to Spout (our church’s Wednesday night program for kids), and as her mother and I were getting ready for the Bible study that we have in our home during that same time — Mia pointed out a hole in the crotch of her leggings. Without hesitation, I told her that she “couldn’t go out like that”. In her innocence, she was both surprised and disappointed, wanting to pout because she loved the outfit she was already wearing. But Mia took them off, mommy grabbed her skewing kit, and we had them back on her “good as new” before she headed out the door.
And like many things these days, this teachable moment reminded me of scripture.
My daughter would be oblivious to the importance of clean clothes that aren’t torn to shreds or that don’t cover her body properly if her mother and I weren’t there to teach, guide, and help her. Just as many of us would be oblivious to the importance of godly living if we weren’t indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Christ in us. We would still be just as hopelessly wandering through the darkness, ignorant of the sad state of our being, maybe even mad if anything made us aware of our pitiful state, ready to pout and pitch a fit rather than see ourselves cleaned up and set on the right path.
I thought about it and looked it up to find that there are a lot of verses in the Bible about washing or mending clothes. From looking in the Old Testament alone, we can find verses like these (and many more):
The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments;
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments.
‘Anyone who touches its flesh will become consecrated; and when any of its blood splashes on a garment, in a holy place you shall wash what was splashed on.
and whoever picks up any of their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.
and the one who picks up their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; they are unclean to you.
‘He too, who eats some of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening, and the one who picks up its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.
“The priest shall look at him again on the seventh day, and if the infection has faded and the mark has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean.
“Then on the seventh day the priest shall look at the scale, and if the scale has not spread in the skin and it appears to be no deeper than the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean.
“The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days.
“It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean.
“Likewise, whoever lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.
‘Anyone, moreover, who touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening;
‘Whoever then touches any of the things which were under him shall be unclean until evening, and he who carries them shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
‘Now when the man with the discharge becomes cleansed from his discharge, then he shall count off for himself seven days for his cleansing; he shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in running water and will become clean.
‘As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.
‘Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
‘Whoever touches any thing on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
‘Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
“The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp.
“Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.
“When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean.
“Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean.
The Levites, too, purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes; and Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD. Aaron also made atonement for them to cleanse them.
‘The priest shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward come into the camp, but the priest shall be unclean until evening.
‘The one who burns it shall also wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening.
‘The one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; and it shall be a perpetual statute to the sons of Israel and to the alien who sojourns among them.
‘Then the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him from uncleanness, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and shall be clean by evening.
‘So it shall be a perpetual statute for them. And he who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening.
then the priest shall order them to wash the thing in which the mark occurs and he shall quarantine it for seven more days.
“The garment, whether the warp or the woof, or any article of leather from which the mark has departed when you washed it, it shall then be washed a second time and will be clean.”
“You shall purify for yourselves every garment and every article of leather and all the work of goats’ hair, and all articles of wood.”
“He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes.
Wow, that’s a LOT of washing!
And the New Testament talks about washing as well — the type of washing that the Blood of the Lamb does for us:
Hebrews 9:11-28 (NLT)
So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.
That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool.
Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.
For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
Yes, we see that just like my wife and I make sure that my daughter’s clothes are washed or replaced before we send her out each morning, the Lord washes and replaces our spiritual garments as well. If I know how to be a good Father and look out for my own daughter, how much more does our Good, Good Father know how to do even more for His children?
We can all rejoice in the encouragement that we find all the way back in Lamentations:
Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
We can rejoice in the promise we find in 1 John:
1 John 1:9
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
And we can be mindful of the warnings in Revelation:
‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Lord, we are so grateful that you are faithful to forgive us, to wash us clean from all of our sin and wickedness. And because of that grateful understanding of the sacrifice that you made at Calvary, on the hill at Golgotha, upon the cross for our sake — we plead with you to help us keep from soiling our garments. There is nothing good in us apart from Christ Jesus, so we long to abide with you and not be apart from Christ Jesus — but to be set apart from the world, as a holy, sanctified people to be used by you for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And not for our own glory or honor, but so that we might not stumble others, so that we might not be hypocrites, so that we might not be the same as we were before. We ask you to not only be our Savior, but to be our Lord. Take our lives and make them yours. Deliver us into your will, Our Beloved Father. Amen.