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Vol. XVII No. 21
23 February 2020

CLEAN YOUR HANDS AND YOUR HEART

“Wash your hands!” This is heard all too often because of the COVID-19 epidemic. We are told again and again to wash our hands. This is good practice. Wash your hands but let us not forget to wash our hearts also.

We should wash our hands “religiously” but not like the Pharisees who criticised Jesus, “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” (Matt 15:2). “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.” (Mark 7:3–4).

The Pharisees washed their hands as a religious ritual thinking that such an external washing will make them spiritually clean and acceptable to God. The Pharisees missed the point completely. Yes, we want to wash our hands to prevent ourselves from being infected by viruses or bacteria. But more importantly, we must wash our hearts to keep ourselves from being infected by sin and evil. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Ps 24:3–4a).

The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 7:6–16).

Personal holiness by constant washing is vital for our spiritual health. How do we go about it? Here are four things we need to do. Make sure you—

(1) Separate yourself from Satan and from sin. This is like quarantine. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17).

(2) Indoctrinate yourself with the truth. This is like vaccination or immunisation. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;… Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Tim 4:1, 16).

(3) Wear the whole armour of God. This is like putting on your personal protective equipment (PPE). “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph 6:11–13).

(4) Confess your sins to God. This is like washing your hands regularly or bathing/showering daily. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Also repent and pray for grace to live a godly life. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1). JK

HAS THE BIBLE BEEN KEPT PURE?

Has the Bible been kept pure? The Westminster Confession of Faith and the providential preservation of Scripture by Garnet Howard Milne (available at Amazon: US$29 + shipping).

The above book published recently in 2017 is a superb scholarly and historical presentation of the doctrine of the perfect preservation of the Holy Scriptures by extraordinary providence as forged in the crucible of the great 16th century Protestant Reformation. It is Sola Scriptura redivivus. It bears reminding that for the Scriptures to be the sole, supreme and final authority of faith and practice, it must be perfectly preserved. The author laments that this is not the faith of many today. He documents the many attempts today to deform the Reformation Bible and the Reformed Faith by sceptical clerics and critics in both liberal and evangelical circles.

Dr Milne was absolutely right to say that “The canon was not something decided upon by the elite of the church and then commended to the ordinary folk in the pews. It was something confirmed and received individually throughout the centuries ever since God had first dictated those Scriptures for the church, a church which consisted of the whole multitude of believers. This means that the common or received Greek text of the New Testament and the Masoretic text of the Old were considered by [the Reformers] to have been the authentic text.” This is the case because Scripture is self-authenticating (autopiston) and the Spirit-indwelt saints are able to recognise the inspired words that God has promised to preserve to the last letter and syllable (Matt 5:18). Although it is acknowledged that the extant manuscripts contain copying mistakes that must be corrected, Dr Milne was correct to conclude that this work of correcting “was adequately completed in the time of the Protestant Reformation.” Modern-day textual criticism is eschewed. Such a view is in keeping with the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Holy Scriptures (Ps 12:6–7). The Scriptures are forever infallible and inerrant. The Author of the Scriptures Himself made sure of it “by His singular care and providence”.

We are not alone in affirming the special providential preservation of the Scriptures and defending the Textus Receptus and Authorised Version (KJV). More and more are returning to the good old Reformed Faith and the good old Reformation Bible. Soli Deo gloria! JK

[About the author: Dr Milne has served as pastor of two Reformed churches in Wainuiomata and Wanganui, New Zealand. He has contributed to the Westminster Theological Journal and was editor of his denominational magazine Faith in Focus for many years. Dr Milne holds a PhD in historical theology from the University of Otago, NZ.] JK

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