My mom used to tell me, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” It was her way of coaxing me to tidy my bedroom, wash my hair, have a shower – all the things a young boy often can’t be bothered to do. And it worked because today these habits are ingrained – except the need to wash my hair.
A few years after I became a Christian, I discovered something about this phrase my mom used. I thought she was quoting Scripture. The phrase sounds so biblical. Surely it must be somewhere in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. But my mom wasn’t quoting Scripture. The phrase is found nowhere in the Bible. “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is a phrase from a sermon by John Wesley in 1778. The phrase caught on and so it became a rallying cry for wholesome living. My mom was quoting Wesley – though I doubt she knew this.
But this doesn’t mean the idea of cleanliness is next to godliness is completely unbiblical – at least what we call “spiritual cleanliness”. Psalm 24:3-4 say, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.”
Entering God’s holy presence is only possible if we are spiritually clean - made right with God. This is only possible because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. He died in our place so we might find forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Like clean kitchen utensils and dinner plates after a thorough wash, we have been cleansed by Christ’s blood. Hallelujah! We are pure, able to stand in God’s presence, knowing the Lord. “Cleanliness is next to godliness” isn’t in the Bible, but the idea isn’t unbiblical – at least spiritually speaking.
Be encouraged. You are pure in God’s sight because of Christ. The Lord does his cleansing work in you. Rejoice. Be glad. And continue to let him wash you clean day-by-day.
視頻大意翻譯(video Chinese translation):
在我成為基督徒的幾年後，我發現了我媽媽用的這句話。我以為她是引用聖經。這句話聽起來很符合聖經。當然，它一定在箴言或傳道書的某個地方。但我媽媽沒有引用聖經。這句話在聖經中找不到。顯然，「清潔僅次於敬虔」是約翰·衛斯理 （John Wesley） 在 1778 年佈道中的一句話。這句話流行起來，因此它成為健康生活的口號。我媽媽引用了衛斯理的話—儘管我認為她並不知道這一點。
但這並不意味著清潔的概念是不符合聖經的—至少我們稱之為「屬靈清潔」。詩篇 24：3-4 說：“誰能登耶和華的山．誰能站在他的聖所．就是手潔心清、不向虛妄、起誓不懷詭詐的人。”
Grace and peace