How many times have we seen these words in recent weeks! Along the highway, electronically displayed on expressway bulletins, it speaks its message to every driver. Wash Your Hands With Soap.
So simple, no one can miss the point if they want to be safe.
And the spiritual application for us? The lessons are so obvious that I hardly need to state them. The supporting Scriptures include them.
Let’s start with the most familiar.
Isa. 1:16–17 16“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17Learn to do good
The first point to note here is that it is something personal, something you and I have to do OURSELVES. No one can do it for us. Someone else’s SUPER CLEAN hands won’t keep US safe—literally or spiritually! EACH of us has to wash his own hands.
Second point is that the washing has to result in removing the dirt and getting us CLEAN. No superficial rinse will do.
To make sure we get the point, Isaiah even translates the symbols into the actual application. In plain language, he says, washing means,
16…Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil.
Isaiah says, whatever is evil, STOP it!
“Put way the evil of your doings from before My eyes.”
Put away the evil so completely—do such a DEEP CLEAN—that even GOD can’t see it! Clean your mind, our soul, every part of you so carefully that wherever the Lord looks, He won’t see ANY evil.
Then there is another command. Once we have washed away the evil, we must take the next step and
17Learn to do good.
Yes, “Learn.” Something we may not be accustomed to. The “good” may be something “new” we need to learn. In any case, don’t leave a vacuum, Isaiah says. Replace the evil with doing something “good.”
Then Isaiah states the benefit:
Isa. 1:18–20 18“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord,
Is this washing process a “reasonable” request? Absolutely! No compromise here. It is a phrase confirming the legal right of the one making the request. We want to approach God? We must do it on His terms—it is only being reasonable. Who would welcome someone dirty into His holy sanctum?
Isaiah was talking about real issues of sin. Earlier in the chapter he had been documenting the sins of these evil-minded people. Even their sacrifices were polluted. Unacceptable. They REALLY needed to clean up if they wanted to be accepted in God’s presence. They weren’t welcome as they were. No suggestion of “Just as I am,” or “Come as you are,” so often heard in modern religious rallies. God was prepared to pardon their sons, but the first step had to be from their side. They had to wash (repent) and turn from the evil. And then, Isaiah says, continuing with verse 18:
18… Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
What contrasting descriptions! From sins like “scarlet” to being “as white as snow.” From “red like crimson” to “wool.” Then Isaiah states God’s promise:
Isa. 1:19–20 19If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Don’t miss the authority behind his words. Isaiah wasn’t making up these statements, or these demands or the promises. He says, “The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Now back to the washing command we are seeing. “Wash your hands with soap.” What is the soap that goes with washing our hearts?
Let the soap be God’s law. But His giving us the law doesn’t make us clean. Any more than giving a cake of soap to a little boy who has been playing in the mud will make him clean. Having the best soap in the laundry cupboard won’t make our clothes clean.
The soap MUST BE APPLIED! And often we put the soap directly on to the heavily soiled area to get it clean. Sometimes we have to apply the soap more than once, even let the garment soak in the soapy solution to get it clean.
The spiritual lesson is the same. Holding the soap in our hands (putting God’s law in our minds) won’t make us clean. We must learn and APPLY that soap in our lives to be clean. And we must KEEP applying it until the soil is gone.
How do we do this? Paul addresses the point relative to washing the “church,” or spiritual bride of Christ – which we all want to be part of it. But to belong we must be clean. What is the process? And What is the soap?
Eph. 5:26–27 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by the word
“By the WORD.” The cleansing medium is “the word” of God, the most effective agent ever formulated. It is God’s word of life, which He gave to Christ and Christ gave to the apostles to proclaim, the life-giving Words Jesus spoke everywhere He went, the saving WORD of truth. It is the word that tells us HOW to get our hands clean. In the words of James,
Jas. 4:8 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The WORD tells us what to do, and not do. It states the principles we must live by in order to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.
Returning to Ephesians, Paul tells us HOW to get the clothes clean and spotless for Christ’s bride:
Eph. 5:26–27 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
How clean? How spotless? It is a high standard to reach, but not beyond us—not when God supplies the soap and we use it!
And now think about the result of washing our hands with soap – not just the kind that will protect us from picking up Covid19 but the kind that will keep us from ANY and EVERY evil. Job said it a couple of ways:
Not only does SOAP remove the stains of sin, but without the sins—WITH CLEAN hands—we keep growing stronger and stronger! I like the Revised English Bible’s wording of this passage:
Job 17:9 9In spite of all, one who is righteous maintains his course; he goes from strength to strength whose hands are clean.
That is what it is all about: maintaining the course, going straight ahead, going from strength to strength, from one victory to the next. The “righteous” one, the one whose hands are clean, will DO it!
We have only touched on a few passages that tell us how to wash, but Paul added one we must include. And he related it to the greatest of the promises God sets before us.
2 Cor. 7:1 1Having therefore these promises,
What were those promises just mentioned? They were the promises of becoming God’s own sons and daughters, and spoken by the “Lord Almighty.” So what does Paul say about getting clean?
2 Cor. 7:1 1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Just thinking about these great promises, what should we be doing? Paul says, “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Does this sound like simply washing our hands? It’s more like taking a BATH!—with lots of spiritual soap to get really CLEAN! Clean from “all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” from “anything that contaminates body or mind.”
Let’s make this a “clean hands” day. “Wash your hands with soap.” APPLY the law of God—His specially formulated soap, WASH and KEEP washing. Then we will be WELCOMED into God’s presence, and even invited to “ABIDE” there. FOREVER!