The Word Makes Us Clean

by Martin Luther

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (John 15:3)

In this passage, Christ is offering us a remedy for the poison of arrogance, which is overestimating your own holiness. Jesus says this so none of us will think that our own suffering, apart from Christ, can attain forgiveness of our sins or make us fruitful branches in the sight of God. Here’s what usually happens: Someone does many good works and endures much suffering. That person becomes aware of producing fruit. In other words, they are aware of achieving something through preaching or some other method. Then that sweet poison begins to make the person think, “Oh, I have now done something that will make God notice me and be merciful to me.” In this way, little wild branches begin growing alongside the true branches. These wild branches steal the sap and energy from the true branches so that they don’t flourish. That is why the Gardener must be alert. He has to restrain such arrogance and presumption by constant application of the Word.

Christ is saying here, “You aren’t clean because of what you do, what you suffer, or the fruit you produce. You wouldn’t have done any of these things if you hadn’t already been pruned and been made into good and true branches. Only God’s Word can make you clean.” It must be present at all times. The Father sends various kinds of suffering, danger, anxiety, need, and temptation to you so that you may hang on to God’s Word tightly and so that it may work powerfully in you. In this way, he humbles you and teaches you that you can’t make yourself clean. Your suffering doesn’t make you clean before God. Yet it drives you to reach for God’s Word and hold on to it more tightly and firmly. This is how God exercises your faith.

from Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional – General Editor James C. Galvin

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4 thoughts on “The Word Makes Us Clean

  1. Thank you for this, Mike. Again it reminds us how zero we are and how 100% God is and will continue to be and how He will continually remind us because of His mercy and grace.

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  2. Sarah,

    I for one need this reminder quite often. I am starting to suspect that my removal from teaching and serving at my old church is God driving this home. Yes, my dear sister in Christ, we are zero and God is 100%. Praise be to God!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. Hi Mike,
    I think as we are more honest with ourselves and dig deeper we will see the need for humility more and more in our lives.If we are more prone to look to establish our righteousness, we have not thought clear enough about our dependence upon God. It is by the grace of God that we are what we are. Humility brings us closer and closer to Christ because when we humble ourselves by looking honestly to how our walk really is, we seen how much we must disappoint Him. I know I do. There are areas in my walk that I have yet to conquer and I say thankyou Lord for your grace and sticking it out with me. It sometimes takes us to our knees and that’s a good thing in my books.
    Lord, I pray you continuely take me to my knees. Before I was saved my husband use to pray “What ever it takes to save my wife, please do it.” This use to anger me to hear those words, “What ever it takes!!”, but now I say to the Lord, “What ever it takes to conquer these sins, please Lord do it.” It’s amazing how the Lord can change our thinking.

    Cristina

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  4. Cristina,
    Thank you for your honesty. Yes, God answered your husband’s prayer in changing your heart so that you could see the truth, repent and be saved. God does it all. Martin Luther said that anyone who attributes their salvation, in any part, to their will has not learned grace nor Jesus Christ aright. Grace, grace, God’s grace…. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith which is a gift from God. Knowing this, how can we arrogantly assume that we have arrived and are doing things in ourselves which God will be impressed with? Nonsense! Any good in me is born of God and kept alive by God as He works through His Word to demolish and rebuild my heart.
    In Christ
    Mike Ratliff

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