“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation–if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – 1 Peter 1:22-23, 2:1-3
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading A.W. Tozer lately. The latest work of his that I am currently enthralled in is “Living as a Christian.” This book is Tozer’s teachings from 1 Peter on the life of a Christian and what that should look like. Each chapter draws me in and speaks biblical truth, going into further explanation through stories, illustrations, and testimonies. In regards to the purification and cleansing of one’s heart and soul, Tozer has a beautiful explanation and illustration that has brought this truth into a new light for me. I loved it so much, I just had to share it. Tozer writes and agrees with Scripture that we as Christians are born again, not by a “corruptible seed” but by the “incorruptible seed, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.” From this, Tozer draws the conclusion that because of this, we are to lay aside all wickedness. He sees beautiful contrast between 1 Peter 1:22-23 and 2:1-3 and declares that because of the former, we can do the latter. He sees this as an action that we do ourselves. We are the ones that do the “laying aside.” Tozer believes that this is something we can do. His further explanation of this point goes as such:
“Someone may say, ‘Mr. Tozer, how can a man cleanse his own heart? How can a man purge his own soul?’ I might ask you how can a man wash his own hands? He cannot; he can only subject his hands to water and detergents and they do the washing. If he does not subject himself to water and detergent, he will not be cleansed. Just as a man is clean by washing his hands and yet he cannot wash his hands, so a man’s heart is cleansed when he cleanses himself, and yet he cannot cleanse himself. No contradiction here, simply a question of understanding. When you say to your son, ‘Johnny, wash your hands before you sit down to the dinner table,’ Johnny disappears, and soon he is back holding up white hands. Shortly before, they had not been so white. Now, did Johnny wash his hands? No, and yes. He washed them by bringing them into contact with water and detergent, which did the washing. God says to a sinner, ‘Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded” (James 4:8). What does He mean? Before you sit down at the Father’s table, go wash your hands, and yet that sinner cannot wash his hands. Not all the water in the world can wash him clean, only the blood of Christ can do it. Why then is he told to do it? For the same reason the boy is told to go wash. There is water that will cleanse him, but if he does not use water and soap, his hands will still be dirty, and when he rubs them, he only rubs in the dirt. So when we who are religious hear the voice of God telling us to lay aside all impurities, we rush to lay them aside and do not go where the blood is or the cleansing. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us, yet if we hold ourselves from that blood, we will be unclean forever.” (A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, p. 79-80)
I echo the cry of Tozer, that without exposing yourself to the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ, you will only remain a dirty and filthy sinner. Obey the command of God and lay aside all wickedness. Can you do this? Yes and no. No, you cannot create a pure and clean heart within yourself. Yes, you can expose yourself to the blood of Christ and power of Scripture which will cleanse and purify your hearts. By your regeneration, you now can lay aside wickedness by exposing yourself to the one who desires for you to be clean in the first place. From this purification of the heart first, you can now walk in faith through obedient works. As God calls and commands, respond in humble obedience.
By His Grace