“What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
Acts 10:1-23 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6 he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants, 8 and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.
17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate; 18 and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. 19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging.
And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Today’s text says: Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. The fact that it happened three times is a clear indication that it was a very important message which God wanted Peter to hear and understand. “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” The message was about more than adding more acceptable menu choices for Peter. What God was saying was that no longer would His promises be only for the nation of Israel. Gentiles too, could now come into the kingdom of God, through Jesus. This was the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17-18, when God said: “Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” There is no nation nor is there any individual excluded from entering the eternal kingdom of heaven. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Whoever believes, regardless of the national origin, whoever believes in Jesus, will have eternal life.
In the same way that no one is excluded because of their heritage or birthplace, neither is anyone guaranteed entry into heaven because of who they are or where they were born. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. “ Many say that it is narrow minded to believe that faith in Christ is the only way to heaven. Perhaps that’s true. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus Himself says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” In John 14:6 He says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” If we believe in Christ, then we must believe He is the only way to the Father, otherwise we consider Him a liar and a liar would not be much of a Savior or Lord. Anyone from any national origin can come to Christ. They need not change their ethnicity or their identity. They only need to believe and receive the free gift of God. It may be narrow, but in truth there could be no easier way.
“What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Peter was being given a new understanding. God was saying anyone who believed in Jesus was holy and righteous through the finished work of the cross. We need though to understand, Jesus redeemed sinners, people through the cross. He never redeemed sin. Just as God says: “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy,” He also says: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) Jesus didn’t do away with the truth that was spoken through the prophet Isaiah. He himself says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20) The scribes and Pharisees were experts in and diligently followed God’s laws concerning sin and righteousness. The only way for our righteousness to exceed theirs is to accept the work of the cross and receive the righteousness of Christ. Still it is people who are redeemed from sin, not to continue to choose sin. God has not called sin holy!
In John 3:16-21 Jesus says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” As believers we need to understand that the grace of God, the redeeming power of the cross, goes beyond any ethnic or national identity. Jesus paid for sin, once for all. The redeeming power of the cross is enough to redeem anyone from any sin. Jesus Himself did not come to judge, so surely we should not. The world however must choose, light or darkness, good or evil. As we recognize that: “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” God still says: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
In John 8:10-12, after delivering the woman caught in adultery from the hands of those who wanted to stone her, Jesus said: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 1 John 1:5-10 says: This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Light, Redeemer; precious Holy Spirit Thank You that through the finished work of the cross, I am cleansed and Holy in Your sight. I will not call unholy what You have cleansed and I will not call good what You call evil. Help me to walk in the Light. Amen.