Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them ceremonially. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purification on them, and let them shave all their body, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.” Numbers 8:5-7
Accepting the Completed Work
“If a person has been cleaned, ” we might ask as we read this verse, “why must that person then clean himself?” That’s a good question and zeroing-in on this passage helps to illustrate an essential spiritual principle, for it demonstrates that in order to effectively accept that which has already been provided, there must be a purposeful effort on the part of the recipient in order to receive and sustain it.
Poodles and Pigs
When I was kid my mom had a poodle and every so often she would take him to have his hair cut so he looked the way poodles are supposed to look. The funny thing was that afterwards he knew he was looking good and strutted around like a proud peacock. In contrast, yank a pig out of the mud and give him a bath, the first chance he has he’s going to jump back in. Jacque (yes, ‘Jacque’) knew he was clean and made an effort to stay that way, while the pig, well, is just a pig and has no desire to be clean, get clean, or stay clean. The 1 John passage points out if we desire to stay clean we need to walk cleanly.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Philippians 2:12
Work it Out
By the blood of Jesus the work has been finished, but there is a work to be done, and while that may seem contradictory, it is not. Our effort is encompassed by our decision to maintain that which the Lord has provided and therefore is not laborious. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light, so while there is a yoke and there is a burden, His promise of ease and simplicity still stand. If we find the opposite to be true it is likely because we selfishly struggle with a desire to return to the mud puddle.