, Muskogee, OK

February 20, 2013

Fort Faith: There is a cure for spiritual bacteria

— By Barrett Vanlandingham

As I stood in the church kitchen the other morning waiting for my coffee to brew, the hand sanitizer dispenser on the wall caught my eye and I had the irresistible urge to sanitize my hands! Why is that? I didn’t feel that way 20 years ago.

Ironically, our society has become less tolerant of germs in recent years while becoming more tolerant of sin. Why do so many no longer feel just as strongly about clean souls as we do clean hands, especially if doing so will prevent us from becoming spiritually sick?

The idea of having spiritually clean hands is not a new one. About 3000 years ago in Psalm 24:3-4, David says, “Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?”

David answers that question by saying, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”

In other words, the person or generation who is committed only to God, and trusts only in Him is the one who David says “…will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior (Ps 23:5-6).”

Perhaps this is what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote to young Timothy. “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger or disputing (1 Tim. 2:8)”

In context, Paul encourages us to pray for kings and other authority figures, Jews and Gentiles. He reminds us that the Good News of Jesus Christ should be preached to all people. This would be important so that everyone, no matter what their nationality or social class, can lives truly peaceful lives and communicate with God (hands raised or not), knowing they have been made holy or set apart for service in His kingdom.

This is something that would have been impossible without Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, who continually washes our sins away. Baptism is mentioned over and over in the New Testament as the moment at which our sins are washed away or forgiven (Acts 22:16 and Acts 2:38). Baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, something all true believers in Christ must take part in so as to “live a new life” of obedience (Romans 6:3-5 and James 2:26).

As ethyl alcohol is to hand sanitizer, the active ingredient spiritually for having clean hands and a pure heart is belief in Jesus Christ (John 1:12 and 3:16) as the son of God whose grace (Romans 3:24) makes our salvation possible. Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or