1 Cor 6:11 …But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. NIV
Have you ever had a time in your life when you were completely covered in dirt? You know, when it is so stuck on you, that you think it may never come off. Maybe you have been camping for days, with no shower. Maybe, like me, you played tug of war or king of the hill in the mud and it was eighty degrees outside so the mud would just “cake” on your body. How about after a long day of digging and planting in the garden? You know the feeling, right?
If you have ever been that dirty, then you know the wonderful feeling of freshness and cleanliness that comes over you when you eventually take a shower and all that dirt begins to fall off your body. It is a great sensation, is it not? You feel like a new person when you finally drag yourself out of that delightful shower.
But what if, no matter how hard you tried, you could not get the dirt off? What if, even though you stayed in the shower for 24 hours, you still were filthy? What if, no matter which type of soap you used, you could not get the dirt and sweat off? How would that make you feel? Would you feel desperate, helpless? You say to yourself, “How am I ever going to get clean?”
Then you realize something. The problem is that you don’t have the right cleaning agent. You realize that the only cleaning solution strong enough to do the trick, belongs to someone else. Would you do almost anything to get a hold of that cleaner?
In this verse, Paul is reminding a group of believers in Corinth, that this is exactly what happened to them when they came to faith in Jesus Christ. In verses 9-10, he reminds them of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. He lists a group of lifestyle sins (certainly not all inclusive) that are evidence of people who are in rebellion against the Lord. Then he reminds them about their own sinful lifestyles. “And that is what some of you were,” he says. They were covered with dirt. They were in desperate need of being cleansed, but they could not clean themselves. Instead, as the verse says, they “were washed.” God himself washed them, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit.
It is no different for us. When we were lost in sin, covered by its’ filth, Jesus came to wash us and make us clean. We had no ability to wash ourselves from the stain of our sin. We need to be reminded, just like the Corinthians, that we have been cleansed by the only agent that could do the job, His blood. “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22 NIV)
Not only have we been cleansed (justified), the verse tells us that we continue to be cleansed (sanctified). The blood of Christ is sufficient for washing us for the rest of our lives. Eph 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (NIV)
Paul was reminding the church at Corinth of this truth because of their shameless behavior. The church was going through a myriad of problems, such as allowing sexual sin, suing each other in public courts and exalting themselves with their spiritual gifts instead of using them properly to build up the body of Christ. Why was this happening? It was because they had forgotten their previous condition. They needed to be reminded that they were only “saints,” as he addressed them, because of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His shed blood! So he tells them, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor 6:19-20 NIV)
This is a reminder that we all need from time to time. We can easily get caught up in our own self-pride, thinking of how “spiritual” we are and how much we have “done for God.” Instead, we need to remember what we were before we came to Christ. We were enemies of God, yet He shed His blood to wash us (Ro 5:10, Col 1:21).
So let’s be mindful of that perspective, so that we might truly be one body, loving and serving each other! Let’s clothe ourselves in humility, knowing that there was nothing we could do to earn our cleansing, but that it was a free gift we received by faith. Let’s walk day by day, in the grace that was given to us by Almighty God!