What Comes First?

2 Cor 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved… 

As Paul penned a key part of his second letter to the Corinthians (the 7th chapter) he extended a call to sanctification with a reminder of the promises we have been given. They are like checks drawn on a bank (the First Bank of Heaven) that are made payable to us (His bride) and are stamped with an “eternal” date. We just need to present them for payment so we can live in the joy they are intended to bring. There is, however, a process involved in cashing those checks.

… let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit… 

The word for “filthiness” is molusmos, which only occurs here in scripture, it means “soiling of defiling something.” Paul knew what a foul place Corinth was and he revealed those sins in his letter to the Romans (Rom 1). He is telling the Corinthians, as he is telling us, that we are to cleanse ourselves for the sins that defile both the body and the spirit. That got me to thinking back to the Temple in the Old Testament and how that very thought was expressed every day of the year.

God placed both the brazen (bronze) altar and a brazen laver in the outer court of both the tabernacle and the temple. Blood was associated  with the altar but it was water that was associated with the laver. First the sinner had to come to the altar with a sacrifice and its blood was shed by the hand of the sinner (atonement) and poured as an atoning sacrifice on the altar. It represented the fact that the radical condition of “sin” required a radical “cure.” But at that time the sinner needed to have cleansing on a continual basis because of the defilement in the world in which he walked each and every day. The ultimate sacrifice was yet to be made and the altar and the laver were but symbols of what was yet to come.

And so the ministry of the brazen laver… the recurrent cleansing or washing away of sin. That’s where the bride of Christ is today… past the altar but standing at the laver. The blood of the sacrifice made for our sin has been poured out on the altar in heaven but because of the world we live in and the pull of our “old nature,” the dirt that gets on our feet we, like the temple priests, need to wash in the laver before we enter into His presence. Our sins have been forever forgiven by the blood of Christ but we need the continual “cleansing” by the washing of the Word of God. And Paul has told us why…

…perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Perfecting, as used here, means “to bring to an end.” This is Jesus’ long-range goal for His bride… becoming the holiness of God; manifesting His holiness that lies within each member of the bride to the unsaved world around us.  And in the fear of God (reverence) is one of the keys in that process; sanctification (work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; Phil 2:12). Our problem is that we so often lose sight of that goal (God’s holiness) in our walk through this sinful world. That’s why the laver of God’s Word is so important to our walk with Him. It is His Word as revealed by His Spirit that leads us into the cleansing of those spots and blemishes that blot our wedding dress and hinder our conformation into His image. When we lose sight of the holiness that we have been given (the holiness of God) we lose our sense of the seriousness of sin.

How awesome is that holiness? Pause and reflect on the words of one of the great men of God, words that hold even more meaning for us today with the full revelation of Jesus Christ…

 Dan 10:5-9 5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

Want to fulfill God’s goal for your life, to become just like Jesus? Spend more time at the Brazen Laver! That is where you present those checks for payment.

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