I appreciated this person’s response because I could relate to the sigh: not because of your words, @Carson - I believe you spoke the truth - but because of how my experience hasn’t always matched up to what I believe to be true.
I know Jesus cleanses and heals. In this sense, I’m referring to healing from spiritual or emotional sin rather than physical healing. I have personal testimonies of both physical and emotional supernatural healing in my life, praise God, but not everything has been healed - or should I say, not everything in my heart feels cleansed all the time because I still experience feelings of shame and worthlessness on occasion - and this is the experience I speak of here.
Isaiah 53:5 says:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
This passage speaks of the complete and thorough healing and cleansing that Jesus won for us on the cross, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Yet we don’t always receive physical healing in this lifetime. We don’t always experience emotional or mental healing. Similarly, sometimes our own perception of how God has cleansed us from all our sin is not anchored in His truth.
As I reflect on this, I can see a few reasons in my own life when I struggle to feel cleansed:
Firstly, maybe if I have taken time away from God, not studied his word or confessed sin to Him. At these times, these blocks highlight how perfect God is and how imperfect I am.
Secondly, if life is busy, and I’m serving God in the ministry He’s called me to, my busyness and commitments can lead me to lose sight of why I’m doing these things, and particularly whose strength I’m doing them in. Interestingly, I see a correlation between increasingly doing things in my own strength and old feelings of unworthiness, shame and guilt creeping back in. First it’s without me noticing, but finally the accusations of old get louder until I notice that I’ve stopped working and resting in God’s strength. I then have to come back to the Gospel message until I’ve grasped the truth of what Jesus has done for me, and of who He is.
Thirdly, a scripture that brought my thoughts back to this post this morning is 1 Corinthians 13:2:
if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I do not check my heart, I can end up acting without love. When this happens, I could be serving the Lord or my family without love, and again the feelings needing to be cleansed can arise.
So in once sense, I know I am redeemed, as many of the Psalms say, “The Lord is my salvation”. Yet, there is work involved in maintaining my full understanding of my cleansing. It’s a balance between realising that ‘no one alive is righteous in your sight’ (Psalm 143:2) but also at the same time ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9).
So in this sense, I suppose this is how the person who responded to you meant by this:
There is a need to constantly stay anchored in the gospel message, and the presence of God to understand our cleansing. Yet at the same time, we know God’s work of cleansing in our lives is perfect and complete. And the Bible promises he is working on our characters through our sufferings, he’s forming us in his likeness, and that he looks on us with love.
It really comes back to the fact that we need to daily come to the cross, aware of our failings, and confident in God’s mercies that are new every day. He is faithful, always!
God doesn’t only touch us from afar; Jesus took on human flesh so that he could redeem us and cleanse us. When I take time to remember this, I realise how much He us cleansed me, and my heart is renewed.
1 Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your facefrom me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake,Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness,bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.