Why purify ourselves when only God can forgive?

In an earlier post, we saw that Jesus Christ will not cleanse with His blood, but rather, it is we who need to be cleansed with His blood by obeying His commandments. So, where does forgiveness fit in? How can we be cleansed by the blood of Jesus by obeying Him when only God can forgive? To understand this, we need understand how Jesus used those terms.

Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Forgiveness

Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

In a parable spoken by Jesus, there were two men who came to the temple for asking forgiveness. Look closely on what the Pharisee was saying in his prayer. Even though he was not like the extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or as this tax collector, his heart was unclean being filled with pride. Hence, none of his sins were forgiven because, his heart is unclean.

Now if you look at the tax-collector, he not only acknowledged his sins but also ashamed of himself of his sins – which means, its a decision of true repentance of not doing it again. His heart was not filled with pride or lust of greed or anything but rather humbleness making himself clean on the inside. Hence, all of his sins are forgiven him.

Therefore, even if we repent, we cannot  be forgiven unless we have cleansed our heart on the inside.

Cleansing

Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is and everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees to cleanse the inside of their hearts. The same message is echoed by John where we need to purify ourselves just as He is pure. Cleansing is not like coming before God with a humble heart for repentance and then doing all unrighteousness back in home. We already saw that we need to cleanse ourselves by obeying His commandments in the previous post.

Rev 3:4-5 “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Matt 15:18-19 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Being in cleansed or undefiled state is so important that failure to maintain our purity can even cost our eternal life.

Conclusion

It is important that our heart must be clean before God for Him to forgive us.

John 8:34-35 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.

It is also important to be always clean and maintain our garments to be undefiled not only to inherit eternal life but also for us to dwell in His house.