What God has cleansed do not 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.
In today’s text Peter was given a vision to help him understand what God was doing; that salvation through Christ was not just for Jews, but rather as Jesus said in John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Salvation in Christ is for whoever believes in Jesus. It is important though that we recognize that He says whoever believes in Him. It is not enough to believe about Jesus; that He was a good man and a good teacher. It is not enough to believe that He gave us an example of how we should live. To believe in Jesus means that we believe He is God’s Son. He was one with God even before He was born as a child and became a man. To believe in Jesus means that we believe that because of God’s love, He was given; He gave His life on the cross so that so that we would not perish. We need to believe that because of sin, we needed a Savior and a redeemer and that is who and what Jesus was and is. So to believe in Jesus we need to believe that Jesus died to cleanse us from our sin. 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. In today’s text God says: “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
We need to recognize and understand what God has cleansed. Jesus says He died so that anyone who believes would be saved. But contrary to what many to day believe and teach about Jesus, He did not cleanse sin by dying on the cross. It was not sin that was redeemed, but rather those who will acknowledge and confess their sin. On the cross Jesus said: “Father forgive them…” He died that they, we, sinners could be forgiven. God indeed said: “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” That same God also said and says in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Through Jesus Christ sinners who believe in Jesus; in what He died for; everyone, regardless of their origin or ethnicity, who confesses their sins and believes that Jesus is Lord and Savior is cleansed. Evil is still evil. Darkness is still darkness and bitter has not become sweet. People are cleansed and made holy by believing in Christ.
If we believe in Jesus and call Him Lord, we also need to believe what He says. In John 14:15;21;23 Jesus says: "If you love me, keep my commands…Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves.. "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” Here’s what Jesus says about sin and unrighteousness and about what God has commanded: “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) In Matthew 7:21-23 He says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” If we believe in Jesus, we must also obey His and God’s commandments. What God has cleansed, anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus; anyone and everyone who acknowledges, confesses and repents of sin, should not be considered unholy by others who believe. Still what God calls evil should never be called good. We should not relax God’s word to cleanse the sins of our society and culture.
In another vision, In Revelation 21:3-8 it says: I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Even then, evenwhen all things are made new, sin is not redeemed, it is those who overcome sin and death through Christ who will dwell with God. “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” But, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit, what You have cleansed may I never consider unholy. May I recognize and believe Jesus, that You died for everyone who believes in You. May I not consider the sinner they were, but rather see them as redeemed by You. May I also though not consider cleansed what You call evil and sin. May I never relax Your commandments, but rather rest in Your grace. Amen.