“Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”
In the last few posts from the book of John we talked about how every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. That word “prune” from last post’s text, in the original Greek, is the same word that’s used in today’s verse for the word “clean.”
I think cleaning is another way God can help us to become more fruitful. But I don’t think it’s an either or situation. To me it seems apparent that God uses both pruning, or taking things away from us (as we discussed in the last post from the book of John) to help us become more fruitful, and, He uses cleaning too.
The cleaning happens when we take in God’s word as Paul describes how Jesus washed us, the church, in God’s word, in Ephesians 5: “. . . washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor . . .” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Another place in the Bible where we see how cleansing happens from taking in God’s word is found in the Psalms.
“How can a young man keep his way pure?” the psalmist asks in Psalm 119.
“By guarding it according to your word.
“With my whole heart I seek you;
“let me not wander from your commandments!
“I have stored up your word in my heart,”
Both pruning through trials and cleansing by taking in God’s words are experienced by every Christian.
But I think more cleansing can result in less pruning.
When I’m in God’s word, I notice that I love people better, and I’m easier to live with. When I drift from God’s word, I forget who I’m supposed to be, and my relationships suffer. And when relationships suffer it can result in heartache, or pruning if you will. I learn, but I learn the hard way.
One of the most basic principles of learning is the principle of recency. It’s just human nature for us to forget things, anything, everything, over time. We remember better when we’ve seen something recently. So we’ll best live according to God’s words when we’re experiencing cleansing because we’re engaged with God’s words on a regular ongoing basis.
Without taking in God’s words regularly we’re sure to drift.
So find a way to engage His scriptures. Read your Bible, listen to an audio version of the Bible, listen to pastors teach it in a podcast, join a community of believers in church and listen to a Bible teacher in person, participate in a Bible study. Do whatever you have to, to engage in God’s words. Find a way that works for you.
So you can be continually cleansed.
It will result in doing more of what God wants you to.
It will result in becoming more who God wants you to become.
And it might result in less pruning.