Cleanliness: Is it really next to Godliness?

For Jesus and the culture

Dear Reader: 

Everyone has heard the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” That’s not actually in the scriptures but has been attributed to be in them nonetheless. While this is not a true proverb, there are several references to cleanliness and cleaning in the bible. Most of them however are compound references that refer not only to physical cleanliness in order to prevent diseases like leoprosy but also spiritual cleanliness. 

Let’s talk about that. One verse that talks about both physical cleanliness and spiritual cleanliness is Ezekiel 36:25. It reads: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”

Clean water is referenced here. Thankfully, if you live a developed country clean water is not something you really think about or dwell on for long periods of time. It is a blessing to really never have to worry about where a drop of clean water will come from. 

Then it talks about uncleanness as a spiritual condition. What are one of the things that can make us unclean? Idols. I think we don’t really have the context of what that used to mean back in the day. Most of us are not out here bowing to statues and figurines. We may however be spending half our paycheck on sneakers or purses. The human condition is prone to addictions and some of those compulsions show us what we value. One of my areas of uncleanness is an obsession with how I look in public. I am very conscious of how others are perceiving me or what they are thinking about me and so I strive for perfection. That may not seem like a bad thing except when its all consuming and oh I can’t go out because my hair isn’t done or I have a chipped nail. God wants me to have an abundant life not be overly focused on how others view me. 

I hope that we can all recognize our areas of uncleanness and work with God so that we can be clean. 

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