Getting Cleaned Up
If you’re around Christian teaching for any length of time it won’t be long until you hear the analogy, “We don’t get cleaned up before we get in the shower”. And this is very true. No where in the Bible did Jesus ever expect anyone to get clean before coming to Him. In fact, He often said, “it’s not the well who need a physician, but the sick”. But while this analogy, spoken in perfect Christianese, is true; it fails to underscore the fact that sanctification (the process through which the Holy Spirit begins changing our hearts) is not an optional process for the born again believer. It’s an evidence.
When I was a kid my mom would tell me to take a shower. Sometimes I’d go in the bathroom, run the water, wet my hair a little, change clothes and come out. I’m really not sure what I was hoping to accomplish. It took just as much time and effort to fake a shower as it did to take one. But I guess it simply describes the depravity of man. As Augustine talked about in his confessions, as a child he once stole pears from a pear tree, not because he liked pears, but simply for the rebellious act it was.
Maybe you can see where I’m going with this…
The idea that we don’t have to get clean to take a shower is simply an analogy that says that we don’t have to clean up our lives TO COME TO JESUS. Our sins have soiled us. We are dirty. Filthy in fact. Jesus is the shower we come to. But all those who truly come to Jesus will undergo sanctification. That is to say that all those who go to the shower and ACTUALLY GET IN, will emerge from the shower clean. But there is a large portion of the “church” today that simply believes that going in to the bathroom, running the water, wetting their hair, and emerging with new clothes constitutes sanctification. It doesn’t.
Jesus made it clear, you will know them by their fruits (evidences). Or another way of saying it is the same way my mom would know… there will be evidence if you’d actually gotten in the shower vs merely dancing around in the bathroom pretending.
Jesus made it clear that there would be both wheat and tares in the church throughout the ages. Wheat produces the fruitful evidence of grain. A byproduct of actually being genuine wheat. Tares however, look exactly like wheat on the exterior but do not produce any grain. Each of these prove what they are by virtue of the evidence they manifest. Wheat doesn’t strive to produce grain and tares don’t strive against it. The grain merely shows what each is at their core.
In Jesus’s parable of the wheat and the tares He said that they weren’t to go around trying to root out the tares, but merely to allow God to sort them out at the end. So why then do we need to know the difference between wheat and tares if not to determine genuine born again followers from counterfeit?
The reason is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
It is for us to examine ourselves… In doing so we look inwardly honestly and determine whether we’ve fallen into a cultural Christian counterfeit faith that yields no fruit. Or whether we have genuinely been changed inwardly through a true surrender to Christ and thus yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” as described by the author of Hebrews.
But if salvation is a sovereign work and fruit is merely an evidence of that work, how does knowing benefit me? Because in knowing I am walking in self deception it proves that my eyes have been opened and opens the door to repentance. Repentance that precedes regeneration, which in turn leads me away from a pseudo faith to a genuine fruitful faith.
True believers have been born again, with new hearts, having new desires. No longer slaves to the passions of their flesh and of this world but free to love and serve God.
So the analogy is true. We don’t get cleaned up to take a shower. But we don’t leave the bathroom filthy either if in fact we’ve truly met Christ.