Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Sometimes God teaches us about our relationship to him through ordinary ways. Keep in mind, however, such things do need Scriptural backing (lest you be charged with reading into things too much). Several years ago the Lord taught me a lesson, one that he has brought back to the forefront. So today let’s take a look at the Holy Spirit in action in life.
This all started a few years back. I was cleaning our wooden floor as I did every day and to my confusion it was dirty, very dirty. My wife and I are not dirty people. We don’t wear our shoes inside and we try to keep the house clean and organized. “So why is the floor dirty every day?” This is the question I asked daily as I wet-ragged it clean. Clear as day I heard the Holy Spirit respond, “This is you.” Recently, I’ve heard my wife lament that no matter how much she cleans things, the house looks the same, and so I tried to explain the message, “This is us.”
Alright, time for some Scriptural backing. At the Last Supper, the Lord taught his disciples about service by washing their feet. Jesus explained to them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15). However, that wasn’t the only lesson he taught. There was another lesson present due to one of the disciples being less than open to the idea of Christ washing his feet. We read in John 13:8-9,
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet by my hands as well!”
Peter didn’t understand what Jesus was doing and became hostile towards him. But our Lord kept his cool and through his words taught a second lesson: “Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you’” (John 13:10).
Ok, let’s break this down. Jesus told his disciples that they must be washed by him or they have no share in him; this is a reference to salvation. We can see washing in Jesus as a symbol used in Revelation 7:13-14,
Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes- who are they, and where did they come from?”
I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”
This is later expanded upon to show the people of heaven and those who are outside (presumably in the burning lake of fire). We read,
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Revelation 22:14-15).
Therefore we see that if you are not washed in Christ (through his sacrifice on a cross, and the acceptance of that sacrifice), then you have no share in the kingdom of heaven.
But that wasn’t Peter’s problem; Jesus had already noted that Pete had “taken a bath” but he still needed to wash his feet. Feet, like my house, always manage to get dirty again no matter how much you clean them. We’re like that too. Even after coming to Christ and being saved through his blood we manage to sin plenty every day (be it greed, lust, covetousness, or whatever sorts of sins we commit in our actions or even just in our hearts). And don’t try to say you don’t either, I have Scriptural proof that we all sin: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). And gals, that means you too- it was a writing convention at the time to call everyone dudes. So we all sin, however you won’t lose your salvation by sinning again (this is why Jesus said that someone who’s had a bath needn’t do so again). But you should wash regularly. When you sin and you know it, confess and repent of it right away (don’t worry, the Holy Spirit is pretty quick about letting you know when you mess up). And don’t panic, the Lord will forgive you; for it is written, “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). Aside from that though, we should also try to keep our lines of communication with God clean and clear- to do this we should pray regularly. Daniel maintained a consistent prayer schedule:
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before (Daniel 6:10).
I have found from experience that having certain prayer times every day helps to ensure that you actually pray. For me it’s when I wake up, when I do my daily Bible reading, and when I go to bed. Even if I don’t pray otherwise, those time guarantee that I’m praying at least a little every day. However, we’re called to do more than that, Paul wrote to Christians “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We’re supposed to pray all the time- this is not always easy to do (or to remember to do for that matter). However, Paul gave a tip in the same verses; he mentioned giving thanks- I know that a lot of my extra prayers are quick “thank you”s to God for varied good things that happen to me during the day. Aside from praying, as I already noted from my schedule, you should read the Bible daily. Paul described this like washing as he wrote,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27).
And guys, that means you too; notice that Paul starts with husbands but quickly focuses on Christ and the church (that is to say, Christians) playing the part of Jesus’ wife. Reading the Word of God helps in washing away the evil that has managed to hide in the hard to reach corners of your soul.
Cleaning yourself of your daily dirt helps you to be more confident in your relationship with the Lord (after all, he’s the one doing the actual cleaning). Also it helps things from getting out of control- you will sin again and be dirty soon enough, but it’ll still be better than if you didn’t clean (or wash your feet) for a week!