Cleansing from the Inside Out
(3) If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
(4) And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
(5) And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
(6) And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.
(7) And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:
(8) And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
(9) But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
In the above passage of Scripture, Israel is camping at Mount Sinai after the Exodus from Egypt and the writing of the Ten Commandments. Recently, in Exodus 30, God has instructed Moses and the children of Israel on the building of the Tabernacle, thus setting the stage for the increased emphasis on holiness, obedience, and sacrifice in the book of Leviticus. In this first chapter, the Lord outlines the purpose and the details of the burnt offering. There are several principles that can be drawn from the practice of the burnt offering. The first thing we notice is that the burnt offering was declared as a voluntary sacrifice, intended to not only pay for sin but to show one’s devotion to God.
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
Even though the burnt offering was declared as voluntary, the requirements outlined in our text for this offering were still stringent. For example, one of the requirements for the burnt offering was that the bullock’s inward parts (his insides) and his legs were to be washed with water before being burned upon the altar.
But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
The author found in his study that the cleansing of the inward parts of the bullock draws a significant parallel in the life of the saved, born-again believer: we need to be cleansed from the inside out.
Consider what the psalmist said concerning this fact in Psalms 51:
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
According to this verse, God’s ultimate desire is for us to possess truth and righteousness from within. An outward show of righteousness may fool or please others, but it certainly will not fly with God. Consider the following rebuke from Jesus himself concerning those who appear holy outwardly, but are not holy inwardly.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
This vivid illustration portrayed by Jesus in this verse is that of a cup that appears clean on the outside but inwardly is full of dirt and filth. Would you and I drink out of that cup? I don’t think so. Likewise, when we as saved, born-again believers go to Church to worship God, or we go out into the world proclaiming the name of Christ, and our hearts are not right with God, we are guilty of the same sin as the Pharisees. We may fool others for a while by our outward show of righteousness and godliness, but God which trieth the hearts deems us as woeful hypocrites who will have to give an account at the Judgment Seat of why we lived as such.
In addition, those who profess Christ but inwardly know that they are unsaved and live as though they are will face a greater judgment and eternal condemnation if they do not trust in Christ alone for salvation.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
By this point, you might be saying: I feel terrible now because I certainly don’t understand how I am supposed to be cleansed when I have messed up so royally in my life. However, I desperately want my inward parts to be cleansed from sin so that I can live for God in true holiness.
First of all, you must realize that you can never cleanse yourself of your sin. Jesus alone must do that when you accept by faith His gift of salvation offered through his shed blood on Calvary’s Cross. Consider the following verses proving this fact:
…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
~1 John 1:7b
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
The cleansing we are referring to here in Leviticus and throughout this article is a daily cleansing in the life of a Christian who has already been “washed in the blood”, or has already been saved. Therefore, the rest of this article cannot apply to you unless you are saved. If you would like to know how to be saved, please click here.
For the Christian who is saved, and is wishing to be cleansed from all the sins, impurities, and imperfections of his flesh and spirit, and “perfect holiness in the fear of God (by the way, all of us should have this desire), we must realize that spiritual cleansing has its root in the Word of God. Consider the following verses from both the Old and New Testament that point to this truth:
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. ~Psalms 119:9
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. ~John 15:3
…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, ~Ephesians 5:25b-26
Just like the inward parts of the bullock were cleansed with physical water, our inward parts–our spirits and hearts–need to be cleansed with the spiritual water of the Word of God. What does this mean practically for me, you might ask? Number one, the Word of Christ must be ingrained in you richly through memorization of Scripture and through the singing/reading/hearing of spiritual songs and Gospel hymns.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The word of Christ needs to saturate our lives so much that all our thoughts–in the daytime, in the nighttime, in the afternoon, in church, at school, on the job–are all filtered through the sieve of God’s unchanging Word, such that the wisdom of God will be manifested in our life through our righteous and holy attitude, behavior, and conversation. This is the only way we can truly please God in everything we do and have an attitude of gratitude as Colossians 3:17 commands us.
Secondly, if we desire for our inward parts to be cleansed, we must be abiding in prayer to God for Him to reveal certain sins in our life or to remove power from besetting sins that may be presently hindering our progress for the Lord.
Remember what the psalmist said in Psalms 51? He said, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
The psalmist pleaded with God that he would be made clean from any and every iniquity; this should be our desire as well. Further, it is God’s desire for us to be sanctified and purified so that we may be conformed to the image of His Son. However, it is up to you to cooperate with the working of the Holy Spirit in your heart by choosing to follow God’s commandments and ways. As our text tells us, “the priest must burn all upon the altar.” Spiritual cleansing, by extension, involves sacrifice. All of you, not just part of you, must be yielded to God in humble submission and obedience if you expect to be cleansed spiritually. This is a decision you must make on your own and on a daily basis to submit to God’s purging process.
Remember, the sacrifice of the burnt offering was offered of the person’s “own voluntary will.” It is therefore up to you to express your desire in earnest prayer to God to be cleansed from within. When you determine in your heart to do this and you petition God for cleansing, he will purify you through and through with the medicinal herbs of His Word that will heal the wounds of your sin and preserve you until the end.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
~1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: