Nothing but the Blood

“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” – Job 14:4[1]

book of jobIn his loneliness, misery, and pain, Job stated a partial truth here. Because of a sinful nature that hates goodness and loves evil, no human being can produce cleanliness from an unclean spirit. Human effort is not enough. It can make earthly life easier and more cheerful for others, but it cannot win eternal life in heaven for oneself.

This is one great error of the Roman Catholic Church. We can “work out” the salvation we have already obtained through faith (Philippians 2:12), since true faith obeys and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). However, we cannot obtain salvation through these same works.

the-parable-of-the-pharisee-and-the-tax-collectorReliance on human effort is also one error of Orthodox Judaism, of which the Pharisees are the prime example. “Ignorant of God’s righteousness,” they tried to “establish their own” through “the works of the law” (Romans 9:32, 10:3). The Pharisees cleansed their external appearance in order to “appear righteous to men” but refused to acknowledge their evil hearts or confess and repent of sin (Matthew 23:28). They prided themselves on the absence of vice, but they possessed no real virtue – the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness,” and “self-control” that emanates from the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23, HCSB). The Pharisees knew nothing about righteousness apart from the law, namely “faith in Jesus Christ to all … who believe” (Romans 3:20-22). By refusing to “submit to the righteousness of God” (10:3), they became spiritually “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).

However, an omnipotent God can do the impossible. Through the blood of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, he can produce spiritual virtue and cleanliness where there was none before. All we must do is confess, repent, and believe. We must also remember that salvation “is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16). These truths are hard for many people to accept, since humbling ourselves before God insults our pride and the faith requirement insults the work of our hands. We would rather try to earn our salvation.

jesus-carries-the-cross christUnlike the hard-hearted Pharisees, Job was born thousands of years before Christ and could not be cleansed by his blood, but he still believed: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last upon the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26). Job eventually died, “righteous in his generation” (Genesis 6:9, 7:1), and went to upper Sheol as he waited to receive “the promise” of faith (Hebrews 11:39). When a crucified Jesus harrowed hell, he took a repentant and believing Job with him (Psalm 68:18, Ephesians 4:8-9, 1 Peter 3:19). So will we be like the faithless Pharisees or faithful Job? The choice is ours.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
“Nothing but the Blood” (Robert Lowry)

It was the blood of Jesus, the blood of Jesus
That opened Heaven’s door to let me in
It was the blood of Jesus, the blood of Jesus
That washed away my guilt
That washed away the guilt of all my sin
“The Blood of Jesus” (Wayne Watson)

__________

[1] New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted

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