David Brandt Berg
I’m a saint—a sinning saint. We’re all saints, but we still sin sometimes, because we’re not yet perfect. Everyone who believes in Jesus is a saint. Saint comes from the same root word as sanctified. Most of us think that means to be made permanently holy, but it really means merely to be cleansed and separated and set aside for future use.
Maybe this will help you when you wash the dishes. Do you know what you’re doing? You’re sanctifying the dishes. You pull out a dirty dish and wash it—you sanctify it and set it aside for future use. So you’re performing a “ministry of sanctification.”
That’s what Jesus does with you: He takes you, dirty as you are with sin, and He washes you with His blood and the water of His Word. He washes away your sins with His blood and your evil thoughts with His Word, and He gets you all nice and clean and sets you aside.
But why do you wash the dishes anyway? You wash them to use again, right? God washed you, cleansed you, and set you aside for His use, whatever use He sees fit to make of you.
When you use the dish again, what do you do? You get it dirty again. But some Christians act like this: “Now I’m all nice and clean. I want God to set me aside on a nice beautiful shelf and never get me dirty anymore.”
Saving souls is sort of like going down into the dirty dishwater to wash and pull them out again. Every time you stick your hand back down into the dirty dishwater to wash a dish, what do you do? You get dirty again! That’s really an illustration of what you’re doing: We’re trying to retrieve those dishes from the dirty water and make them clean, wash them in Jesus’ blood and the pure water of God’s Word, and set them aside for His use.
But to make them clean, you have to get a little dirty. To make the yard so nice and neat, someone had to go out there and get dirty. To keep the house clean and make it look so nice, someone had to sweat and toil and work hard and get dirty.
To make you clean, Jesus had to get dirty. He had to bear your sins on the cross. He had to get dirty with your dirt on the cross.
We’ve always got this beautiful picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. But we don’t really see the pain and agony. You don’t see the dirt of your sins on Him as He dies. Jesus had to get dirty to make you clean. That’s the truth. That’s the Bible. “He bore your sins in His Own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
He had your sins on Him when He died. He had to let God turn His back on Him. He even had to think that God had forsaken Him, think of it! “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Have you ever felt like you’ve had to go so far and get so dirty to save some sinner that you felt almost like God had forsaken you? Jesus stooped pretty low to save you. He went “all the way” for you, and He took your sins on Himself for you.
Every mother knows what this is as she takes care of a little baby. To make the baby clean, she has to get dirty. She has to clean the diaper, clean the baby’s bottom, and get all messed up with that milk that leaks all over her clothes, making everything stinky. She has to get dirty to clean and feed the baby. It’s a constant process of having to get dirty for the child to cause the child to be clean and to be fed. In a sense, when you’re cleaning that baby you’re taking that baby’s dirt upon yourself.
Jesus got dirty so that you could be clean. You have to get a little dirty so they might be clean. Jesus was willing to do it for you, so why shouldn’t you be willing to do it for them? You’re going through the same kind of sacrifice that Jesus went through. It says, “He learned obedience through the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
God’s Word says we are made “partakers of His sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13). We share His sufferings. Just as Jesus had to dirty Himself to save you, you have to go out and dirty yourself to save them.
You have to dip your hands into the dirty dishwater to pull them out, to make them clean. Jesus not only had to come down here among us, He had to be one of us. He had to take on this filthy vile flesh. He had to look like one of us and live like one of us. He had to soil Himself so that we could be made clean. Jesus had to come down here and live like a man and get dirty like a man so He could make you clean. Think of it!
You can’t get that dish clean without sticking your own hand into the dirty water. You can’t clean the dishes without scraping off the garbage. It’s a dirty job, but maybe you can get a real victory when you realize you have the “ministry of sanctification”—doing dirty dishes.
Every time you do a dish, just think, “This is what You did for me, Jesus. You got Your hands dirty too so You could wash me and make me clean. Thank You, Lord.”
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