A teen girl wrote me a question recently. She said, “I know that God has saved me and that He has changed my heart. But because of the things that happened to me before I was saved, I feel like my body is still dirty.
What she was saying is this: She was sexually molested as a younger child. To anyone, boy or girl, that experience becomes a haunting memory. Some have recurring nightmares, even seeing the face of the monster who attacked them. Most victims are left with a strange sense of guilt, even when they did nothing whatsoever to be blamed for. One young lady asked me, “Should I wear a white gown at my wedding?”
If you are one who wonders if you are somehow scarred for life because of some tragedy or mistake in your past, I give you this answer.
In Daniel chapter one, Nebuchadnezzar is the most powerful king of the Middle East and has his seat of power in Babylon, which is really current Baghdad, Iraq. His army has conquered Israel and carried away captive all of the best Hebrew people. They will be his slaves. Some of them will serve on farms, some in construction, some in his palace.
In Chapter one, verse three, Nebuchadnezzar instructs Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to search out the best of the Israeli children, really young people, like teens. And his instructions were very clear. Those whom Ashpenaz would choose for service to Nebuchadnezzar in the palace were to be without blemish. What does that mean? They were to be "well favored" or good looking. Another words, they were supposed to be a part of, as Hollywood has put it, "the beautiful people." They were to be "skillful in all wisdom." Another words, they were to have common sense - which is, today, an increasingly rare commodity. Someone can be very intelligent and can make straight As in school, and even get their earned doctorate, but lack plain "horse sense." Also, they were to be "cunning in knowledge." Or, they were to have some kind of studied ability. Also, they were to understand current day science. It would be comparable to kids today who understand computers and such. I heard that the world's worst computer virus yet was created and sent out by a nine-year old boy in Germany. Incredible! Also, these "children" had to have the ability to stand in the king's palace: Another words, they could not be shy or faint-hearted but have enough confidence about them that they could carry themselves well in such surroundings without getting flustered. And finally, they had to be able to learn the language and customs of the Chaldean people. I could've done that because I pick up languages with relative ease. But if one of the criteria would have been to be able to do algebra, calculus, or trigonometry, forget it. I'm math retarded. :)
So! The king wanted a certain kind of young person. He was very picky. And much like him, the world, even today, makes it demands on all of us as to how they want us to be. And, the church does it as well. And if you're not exactly how people want you to be, they cast you out. In the Gospel of John, chapter nine, the Pharisees cast out the blind man who had been healed by Jesus. He was just not acceptable to them. But then the Bible says that when Jesus heard that they had cast him out he went and found him. Jesus going and finding him changed the beggar’s whole life.
There is another passage in Scripture something like Daniel, chapter one. In Leviticus chapter 21, God Himself gives Moses physical qualifications for those who would be priests. The first time I read this I wondered, "Who could stand up to this list of qualifications or actually qualify?" At first glance, you might think that God is just like Nebuchadnezzar or the world, or like Hollywood that demands that a person have a certain look or they're not acceptable. But it says that those men whom Aaron would make priests from the Tribe of Levi would have to be without blemish. A priest couldn't be blind; he couldn't be lame in any leg or foot; he couldn't have a flat nose (yeah, that's right!) or look like an ape; he couldn't have anything "superfluous" or unnecessary, like a sixth toe or a third nipple (it actually happens); he couldn't be broken-footed or broken-handed, like flat-footed; he couldn't have a "crookback" which is like scoliosis or curvature of the spine; no dwarfs or midgets were allowed; he couldn't have an imperfection in any eye - some people have like a brown spot in the whites of their eyes; he couldn't have scurvy (generally, a skin disease with scabs and sores accompanied by a kind of anemia caused from an insufficiency of vegetables in the diet.); he couldn't have "his stones broken" - yep! It's what you think. He couldn't be ruptured or have a hernia in his groin.
A man who would be a priest in the Old Testament, under Hebrew law, had to fulfill all these qualifications or he could not, under any circumstances go into the Holy of Holies, inside the Tabernacle, and make sacrifice for the people to God. Pretty stiff, huh? But there is a reason. First of all, many of these qualifications are good in that they make a man to be able to be effective and physically fit in his duties. But other than that...God was trying to picture, for the Israelites, the One who would really mediate for them, their Messiah, the One who would be their high priest, who would have to be absolutely perfect. And so we read in the New Testament that Jesus, not only fulfilled all righteousness but, was absolutely perfect in that He never sinned.
Do you have a perfect face? Well, even if you’re so stuck up that you actually think you do have a perfect face, you may be the only one who thinks that. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. You see, even the best looking people, the most talented people on earth, the most perfect people in the world, so to speak, have a blemish. Today women have all kinds of make-up that they hope will cover up their blemishes. But the biggest blemish in human-beings is in their heart. That blemish is sin. And all of us have it. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That is the only blemish that keeps us from going into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, for ourselves. But when, through Christ, we have been forgiven and purified of all our sins, the Bible says that we have boldness to enter in (Hebrews 10:19), to that special place with God, ourselves. We no longer need a priest because God makes us all kings and priests (Revelation 1:6, 5:10).
Going a little further in Hebrews: chapter ten, verse 22 says: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled (or cleansed) from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." In the Scriptures, water is symbolic of two things: the Spirit of God and the Word of God.
So, get this: When we receive the forgiveness of God, which only comes to us through Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross, God cleanses our inside and our outside: our hearts and our bodies.
Now the Apostle Paul was a great man but he had to live with the fact that before he became a Christian, he persecuted and killed a lot of Christians. And there were many people who wanted to remind him of that. But here's what he said in 2 Timothy 1:3: "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience..." How could he say that? How could he have a pure conscience? Because when God forgives our sins, He also washes it away. Paul said, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
Do you still think that, because of some past sin, you have a blemish? Well, how about this?
In the Gospel of John, chapter 13, following the last supper between Jesus and the apostles, we are told that the Lord laid aside His garments and girded Himself with a towel, took water, and began to wash his disciples feet. Peter argued with the Lord, not wanting Him to wash his feet, thinking that it was a disgrace for the Lord to do this for him. Jesus answered him, saying, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Peter replied, “…Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Then Jesus said this in verse ten: “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean …”
Now, in preparation for the Feast of Passover, it was the custom of the Jews to not only wash once but to wash twice. The disciples observing this supper with the Lord had most likely already made themselves relatively clean. Jesus comes to wash their feet in true oriental custom, for so in those days, a person could be clean, just coming from a bath, but have dusty feet.
In washing their feet, Jesus is drawing a picture of spiritual cleansing that the disciples will never forget. And he is saying: As you believe in me and receive me as your Lord, God forgives you of your sin and cleanses you from all unrighteousness. “Ye are clean”…all the way through…head, heart, hands, body. But let me say this: As we go through this world, sometimes we get our feet dirty…even after getting saved…even after being forgiven. If, on your way to the banquet table with the Lord, you get your feet dirty in this world, what do you do? You let Him wash your feet. You confess your sin to God: 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So, young person, don’t let the devil mess with your head and tell you that the things which you did before you got saved, or the things that happened to you before you got saved or became a Christian, go with you for the rest of your life. Sure, our minds have images and memories that will take some time to forget. But if, through the blood of Christ, we have been made righteous before God by the salvation experience, He has cleansed us through and through and made us new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). That includes our bodies. Only you can dirty it up again. Don’t! Now that you're clean, keep it clean.