In chapter 8 here in Numbers we read of the Levites being ritualistically cleansed because they have been set aside for service unto the Lord. Now it would be easy for us to read today’s passage and come away empty thinking this had no application for you and I today. Such thinking might postulate that once we submitted our lives to Christ we were cleansed once and for all, and in general terms such thinking is correct. Such thinking might further postulate that we Christians are not all “priests”, and such thinking would be incorrect. Let me address this second thought before moving on to the first.
You and I, followers of Jesus Christ, children of the Living God, we are members of a royal priesthood. Now you know I wouldn’t say this on my own authority. Below is what the Apostle Peter had to say on the subject.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
So, you need to go forward in your life living the truth of who you are. You are a royal priest. You are a possession of God given a specific purpose of proclaiming who He is. In my opinion, when we read in the Old Testament about the Levites we should pay particular attention. We do live under a new covenant but while the forms of worship may have changed the call upon our hearts has not. Let us learn from the Old Testament what it means to love God with all our hearts.
As to the issue of being cleansed once and for all, I would like to point your attention to something Jesus said and did with His closest disciples just prior to His arrest. He washed their feet. Peter objected to his Master washing his feet but Jesus told him that if his feet were not washed he could have no part of Jesus. In that case, Peter said, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head”. Here is what Jesus said to that.
John 13:10 ESV
“Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’”
Because the disciples had already submitted their lives to the authority of Christ, Jesus considered them already clean, even though He had yet to be crucified and raised from the dead. Jesus knew what was coming and He knew the condition of His disciple’s hearts. Jesus told them that all of them, with the exception of one, were already clean. The exception was Judas whose heart was far from Christ even as he pretended outwardly to be His follower. Jesus was saying that even though you are cleansed in Him, walking through this world will cause you to be splattered with dirt from time to time. You do not need to be washed again but your feet will need washing from time to time.
Jesus’ example is that we brothers in Christ are to wash each other’s feet. When we see a brother struggling with sin we are not to condemn him but rather to call him back to right relationship with God. In response to our occasional stumble in sin we must get to our knees, confess our sin, repent of that sin, and ask for forgiveness. God is faithful and true to forgive the sins of His children when they truly repent of their mistakes. Thus our feet have been cleansed once again.
Brothers, once saved always saved, if you have truly submitted yourself completely to God. You have been cleansed from head to toe. You do, however, live in a fallen and sinful world. You are likely to get some dirt upon your feet from time to time. I suggest to you brother, regularly kneel in prayer to confess your sins and get the foot washing you need.