‘Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world’ – James 4:8 NLT
Reading the Book of Job recently I discovered a wonderful verse about the spiritual blessing having clean hands brings. I remember at mealtimes my mother would ask me, “Have you washed your hands?” Although I replied, “Yes”, she would say, “Show me your hands!” More often than not the result was another trip to the wash basin!
- To have spiritually clean hands is a command
James is emphatic when he writes, ‘Wash your hands’. He is urging, “Do something about the sins you have committed or been involved with”. When we confess our sins, it is as if Jesus washes us clean, hands included, and presents us to the Father as righteous.
- Natural water cannot make our hands clean spiritually
Washing the outside can never make the inside clean. Many a murderer has washed the blood off their hands in order to conceal their crime. They hope they will get away with it and some do but they forget that one day they will stand before God. The blood they shed cries out to God from the ground as did Abel’s. ‘“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground’ – Genesis 4:10.
In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Lady Macbeth washes her hands over and over but can still see the bloodstains even if no one else could. Pontius Pilate thought the public washing of his hands would be a sign of his innocence (See Matthew 27:24). Peter later preached that, “Wicked hands crucified Jesus and put Him to death” (See Acts 2:23). No washing of Pilate’s hands could take away his guilt.
The Blessings of having spiritually clean hands
- Once Jesus has cleansed us, we stay that way
Peter, uncomfortable about Jesus washing his feet said, “Wash my hands and head as well”. Jesus replied that once you are clean, only the feet needed to be washed, i.e. our contact with this world. (See John 13:9-10). All the disciples had clean hands except one, Judas, whose hands were stained with the love of money, betraying His Lord and Master for just thirty pieces of silver. ‘If anyone is stealing he must stop it and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need’ – Ephesians 4:28 TLB. Using our hands for the right things makes it easier for God to bless what we do.
- By faith we have access into the presence of God
‘Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart’ – Psalm 24:3-4.
Clean hands help us to overcome unbelief, guilt and condemnation making It easier to believe we are seated in heavenly places.
- We get stronger and stronger
‘The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger’ – Job 19:9 NLT. ‘Therefore strengthen the hands that hang down’ – Hebrews 12:12. Having clean hands imparts strength. We can help each other in this respect. ‘Surely you have instructed many and you have strengthened weak hands’ – Job 4:3. May we build each other up not pull down.
- It makes us more effective for spiritual warfare
‘Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle’ – Psalm 144:1. Two parts of the Christian’s armour depends on hands – shield and sword. One is defensive, the other offensive. In spiritual warfare we need:
‘I want men everywhere to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from sin and anger and resentment’ – 1 Timothy 2:8 TLB.
He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written’ – Luke 4:17. ‘Our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life’ – 1 John 1:1. We open God’s Word and find the promises that can turn defeat into victory and doubt into faith.
‘Lift your hands in holiness and bless the Lord’ – Psalm 134:2 TLB. ‘Clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!’ – Psalm 47:1.
Prayer, God’s Word and praise, all help to fight our battles more effectively.
If God should say to you today, “Show me your hands”, would you hold them out unashamedly or try to hide them behind your back?