Wash Day (2)

“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭14‬-‭15‬ ‭NLT

John’s brief list of sinful acts ends with a strange reference to “all who love to live a lie”. What is that all about? When we were children a favourite pastime was to dress up in clothes, giving us the feeling of being someone we weren’t. When my wife and I were foster parents, we kept a box full of what we called dressing up clothes, and the children occasional pulled them all out and had a dressing up session. As an aside, we had one 4-year-old boy who loved to wear little girls’ clothes, and particularly a tutu and ballet shoes. I’m not sure what the psychiatrists would make of him today, but it was just a phase he went through. He grew out of it.

To a certain extent we all live a lie. We hold within ourselves our feelings and what we are really thinking, preferring to display a “face” telling a different story to those around us. And we all have skeletons in cupboards somewhere, tucked away in dusty recesses in our minds. We all have history. But we don’t have to be defined by that. I know we have memories, terrified that someone might find out something about us we don’t want to disclose. But when we repent of our sins, bringing them under the spotlight of God’s grace, He wipes them out. He remembers them no more. We read in Hebrews 8:12, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins”. There are other Scriptures too that say the same. But the one I like is in Psalm 103:12, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west”. It doesn’t get much further than that. God forgets but, sadly, we don’t. And the memories lurk there in our minds, emerging now and then, often with the devil’s prompting, causing us pain. And just in case we had forgotten to confess a sin, we repent again. But God says “What sin?” And so the cycle continues. Someone once said these memories are the stain of sin. When satan come a-knocking, trying to torment me once again, I refute his accusations, reminding him of my blood-bought status and that I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m no longer the man I used to be. James very perceptively recorded in 4:17, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. And so he does.

We don’t have to live a defeated life, tormented by every memory. Instead, we can stand boldly before God free of conviction and a guilty conscience. We read in Hebrews 10, 19,21-22, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus …. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”‭‭‭‭

So living a lie needn’t be the case because before God we are an open book. He will gently lead us on our journeys to Heaven, exposing and dealing with our issues and sins step by step. And with our fellow Christians we can be honest and open too, though in the process being careful about not disclosing too much information. A “need to know” approach is best. The next time we walk through the church door or sit at our desks, and someone asks the question, “How are you today?”, we can respond with a faith-filled statement. We may not be “Fine”, but we will be, once we allow God’s love and grace to flood over us.

Dear Father God. We thank You for Your encouragement, sustaining us through the trials and tribulations of life. Only You have the ways of fixing broken and tormented souls. Amen. 

Wash Day (1)

“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭14‬-‭15‬ ‭NLT

It looks as though people wearing dirty clothes will not be acceptable in the Holy City. They were instructed to wash them, a process that will result in blessings. A strange situation until we understand what this washing is all about. We read earlier in Revelation 7:13-14, “Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.” The blood of Jesus is extraordinarily and fundamentally significant in the lives of Christians, denoting as it does the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary for our sins. We read in Ephesians 1:7, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” We also read in Hebrews 9:12, “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” So the significance of washing our robes is clear. Only people who are saved through Jesus’ blood will enter Heaven. 

Once inside the Holy City, the redeemed people of God, His holy people, will enjoy eternal life, eating from the fruit of the tree that has been around ever since God created the world. It has been hidden for all time as we know it, but it has not been extinct because we find it again on the banks of the river that flows from God’s throne. The tree of life. We read earlier in Revelation 22:2, ”… On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.” The same tree of life that we read about in Genesis 2:9.

Once again, John reminded us of who will not be able to enter the Holy City. In fact, these people will not be in Heaven either. These are the people who have not “washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb“. The sorcerers and murderers are clearly exhibiting behaviours that Christians agree will exclude them from Heaven. But what about the sexually immoral? Sadly, there is much unnecessary debate and angst amongst Christians about this, with biblically-defined offenders encroaching on traditional values and taking on roles in some churches because the leaders think they should be moving with the times. But there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth on the Judgement Day. Liberal theologians will find that our God is the “same yesterday, today and forever”. He never changes. And neither does His laws and precepts.

John also highlights the demise of idol worshippers. The picture emerges in our minds of statues of Buddha or similar, but an idol is something that replaces God as the focus of our worship. We know the commandments. As a reminder, Exodus 20:4-5a reads, “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” I would add to that anything man made, that replaces God in our lives.

So we pilgrims wash our robes, the blood of Jesus cleansing us from all our sins. And we move on in God’s grace, with grateful hearts.

Dear Lord. We humbly praise and worship You today with grateful hearts. Your love knows no bounds. Amen.