Sanitation or Sanctification?
Sanitation has to do with making or keeping clean. We take baths; we keep our homes, schools and hospitals clean. Medical equipment is frequently sanitized. Sanitation, you might say, is keeping the ‘outside’ clean.
Sanctification applies to the inside, the heart of a person. It is the cleaning from the dirtiness of sin from within.
An illustration may help. Jesus was talking to a group of religious leaders who majored in religious or ceremonial washings. This was their way to try to keep themselves clean and respectful before God. They had many rituals concerning ‘don’t touch; don’t taste; or don’t eat.’ They applied this to various washings and abstaining from certain foods.
These religious leaders were criticizing others who were not keeping their rituals.
Jesus then spoke to many people, saying “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things that come out of him, those are the things that defile a man”[Mark 7:15]. Jesus was concerned about the heart, about the inside of man. That’s what is dirty! That’s what needs to be cleansed! Staying away from certain foods and being strict in ritual washings is not going to clean the inside!
Some of His followers did not understand what Jesus was saying. So He said to them plainly, “. . . . For from within out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” [Mark 7:21-23]
That’s quite a list; a bad one. That’s what is inside of us! That makes all of us dirty – men, women and children. The heart is very, very dark. Cleanliness, purity before God begins with a clean heart. The heart, the inside of us, is like charcoal. You may try to use soaps, washings and all kinds of scrubbings but it remains dark.
Is there an answer? Yes. God Himself provides Jesus. The Bible says that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses the sin of all who trust in Him. He gave Himself as the sacrifice for sinners. His death is the payment to God for sin! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:9].
By His Spirit, then, He begins the work of purifying us from the dirtiness of sin, renewing us from within! In religion, that’s the difference between sanitation and sanctification.