Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Difference Between Forgiveness and Cleansing

“There is a difference between forgiveness and cleansing. Hitherto, I had always regarded the promises of 1 John 1:9, “He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, as two ways of describing the same blessing. But I have come to see that two different things are promised therein. The things that are forgiven are “sins”, acts of sin, specific sins; the thing that is cleansed is the whole personality, cleansed from all unrighteousness.

My small boy, David, was once told not to play in the tempting mud puddle. He disobeyed. To his dismay, he discovered that the muddy evidence of his disobedience was written all over his face and hands and knees and clothes. Fearing just punishment, he stayed out late, until the twin forces of fear of the dark and miserable hunger drove him in. By this time, we were so relieved to see him that we forgave him promptly. But as soon as he was forgiven, his mother took him to the bathroom, and stripped off his dirty clothes, washed his dirty face and hands and knees, and then put him into the tub for a complete bath, finally deciding to give him a shampoo. So he went to bed, not only forgiven of his disobedience, but as clean as a new pin.”

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 9, “The Cleansing of the Christian.” Full Surrender.

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