Wash, cleanse, and pure, and their derivatives are words of deep significance in the Bible.

In Proverbs 30:12 we read these words: “There are those who are pure in their own eyes but are not cleansed of their filth” (RSV), and this describes many of us who bear the name of Christ.

Recently a group of businessmen were talking about a minister who had moved from their town to another assignment. Their chief memory of him was that he had a long string of stories, most of them smutty in their implications.

On the other hand, the comedian Joe E. Brown was once entertaining a group of soldiers. One of the boys said, “Joe, tell us some dirty stories.” Like a flash Brown replied, “I have never told such stories anywhere and I have no idea of starting now.”

Impurity is the consuming curse of America today. Art, literature, and the average movie are increasingly cesspools of rottenness, and men and women, boys and girls are drinking in this filth with untold damage to their souls.

The Gospel message tells of God’s offer of cleansing from sin, but this is often perverted to a system of ethics with the improved relationship of man to his fellowman as the primary objective.

That cleansing is of basic importance is clear from many references in the Bible. For example, our Lord upbraided the Pharisees because of their concern over outward appearances and ceremonial observances without attention to the rottenness within. Are not we guilty of the same perverted standards today? We forget that it is sin which pollutes.

That the unregenerate man needs cleansing is the recurring theme of the Bible, and that this can never be effected by his own endeavor is equally clear. The best of our efforts are as “filthy rags” because our thoughts and our ways ...

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