Christians in the West rejoice that they are forgiven of sins and declared righteous before God. For many, this is the gospel. There is no thought about being unclean or impure. There is no felt need to have defilement removed. Other cultures, however, live daily with the truth that we are defiled and in need of cleansing, especially if we hope to approach God. Muslims are required to pray five times a day, but before each prayer they must perform ablution (wudu [الوضوء]) to cleanse themselves and be ready to enter the presence of God. This is also necessary before one even touches the Qur’an let alone reads it. Purification is a necessary and real everyday issue for 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.1
Muslims are right to believe they must be cleansed before coming to God in worship. Many Christians, though, don’t see the need for such cleansing. My Muslim friends have helped me see this need. Being in their culture has helped me read the Bible with new eyes. Now I see what was plainly there.
God is pure and holy. We are in mortal and eternal danger if we seek to approach him while undefiled. My first goal in this series of posts is to help us all see the need for cleansing before approaching God in worship. My second goal is to help us see how God makes us clean through Jesus the Messiah. Through Jesus we are able to receive a once and for all cleansing that changes our lives and the way we approach God. Simply put, we are made forever fit for worship.
1. The Qur’an says in Surat Al Baqara :222, “Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” In one of the hadiths (the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), Muhammad said, “Purification is one half of faith” (Quoted in Hajjah Durriah Al-Aytah, Jurisprudence of Worship: According to the Shafi’i School of Thought, Translated by Dr. Lama Al-Jabban [No publisher. 1999], 14).
Other posts in this series
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 1: Introduction
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 2: The Danger of Defilement
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 3: Distinguishing between the Clean and Unclean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 4: What Makes One Unclean?
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 5: Uncleanness is Contagious and Defiles the Camp
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 6: Defilement and Purity in the New Testament
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7a: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7b: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Baptism
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7c: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Death and Resurrection
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 8: The Incarnation Was Necessary for Our Cleansing