"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 1:5, 6.)
It is no accident that the last book of the Bible glorifies the blood of Christ and pronounces a fearful curse upon any man that adds to or takes from God's holy word. (Revelation 22:18, 19.) Despisers of Christ's bloody sacrifice of Himself for the sins of His people will bear their own judgment according to His word, but if we know Him in the forgiveness of sins we must join with the inspired apostle in singing eternal praises to His cleansing blood.
HE LOVED US
"Unto him that loved us." Some old manuscripts have the present participle here, so that we can read "Unto him that loves us." Of course it is true either way, as God has loved His people with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3.) Yet the past tense is very appropriate to the context, and is less liable to the perversions of subjective religion.
He loved us before we had any existence except in His own mind and purpose, for His grace "was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," or, more literally, "before times of eons." (II Timothy 1:9.)
Our text, however, relates Christ's love to the cleansing power of His blood. His offering of Himself upon the cross to bear our sins in His own body was the supreme manifestation of His love, and no doubt this is the primary meaning of these words, "Unto him that loved us."
"God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8.) "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us." (I John. 3:16.) Yes, He loved us when we were unlovely, unloving, and unlovable; and so we can be sure that He will continue to love us as He teaches us to love Him and recreates us in the image of Himself.
HE WASHED US
"And washed us." So we were dirty. This is the awful truth that self-righteous sinners balk at confessing. But God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. (Habakkuk 1:13.) If we were ever to be acceptable in His sight, we had to be cleansed up.
Moreover, only the power of God could wash us clean. All human efforts fail, and man at his best is still only vanity. The supposed good works of the self righteous are vile in the sight of God, for "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6.) All sin is in the creature, and all the power of cleansing is in the Creator.
Some old manuscripts read, "and loosed us." The English words do not look alike, but in Greek there is a difference of only one letter in spelling and the pronunciation is practically the same. There is no vital difference in meaning: "loosed" calls attention to the bondage of sin, which also is scriptural truth.
I prefer the reading "washed," which has better manuscript authority and is in accord with the usual expressions of scripture. If we have trusted the same Savior that John knew, He washed us.
FROM OUR SINS
"Washed us from our sins." No mention here of anybody else's sins, but of our sins. No mention here of Adam's sin, but of our sins. Adam's sin is discussed elsewhere in the Bible, and Christ's atonement covers it; before God the responsibility of Adam's descendants is not for Adam's sin but for their own sins.
Beware of half-baked preaching which so magnifies the sin of Adam as to excuse the sins of his descendants. In all honesty, you cannot repent for Adam, nor are you commanded to do so: even if some preachers are confused, God knows that you are not to be blamed for Adam's sin. You are commanded to repent for yourself, and by God's grace you can and must do this.
Our sins, our own sins, only our own sins, can separate between us and our God. (Isaiah 59:2.) These are the sins from which we need cleansing; these are the sins from which He has washed us.
IN HIS OWN BLOOD
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." It was "not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10:4.) And of mere human beings, "None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." (Psalm 49:7.) Only the precious blood of the Son of God, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, could accomplish this cleansing.
When did He wash us from our sins in His own blood? Some people are confused on this question, but there is no need of confusion. The washing was in the purpose of God from eternity (Revelation 13:8), but the blood was actually shed in Calvary nearly 20 centuries ago. All this was long before you and I were born, yet we were in the mind of God. In personal application, we were legally washed from our sins when we first came to trust in that precious blood. (Romans 3:23-26.)
Now, this legal cleansing at the beginning of our Christian experience is once for all, perfect and eternal, with no need or possibility of loss or improvevment. He "washed us from our sins in his own blood," and so far as eternal judgment is concerned, that is it.
Legal relationship, however, is not the same thing as spiritual fellowship. As children of God, we need to maintain (or, when we lose it, to regain) fellowship with our heavenly father. This too calls for the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, not now for justification, but for sanctification:
"If we keep on walking in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son keeps ou cleansing us Irom all sin." (I John 1:7.) This is maintaining fellowship by walking in the light. Since none of us walks without stumbling (James 3:2), God tells us how to regain that fellowship (still by virtue of the blood):
"If we keep on confessing our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9.) He is faithful in this forgiveness and cleansing because it is according to His word, and He is just in it because it is upon the merits of the blood of Christ.
KINGS AND PRIESTS
"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father." The tense of the verb is Greek aorist, and the meaning is that He made us kings and priests at the same time that He manifested His love by washing us from our sins in His own blood. Here also provision is one thing and experience is another. But we are not only to anticipate a future reign in millennial and eternal glory; we ought to rejoice now in our position with the King of kings:
"Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (I Peter 2:9.)
"Our great king endured suffering for us before ascending to His Father's throne, and "if we suffer, we shall also reign with him." (II Timothy 2:12.) His Spirit within bears witness that we are God's children, "and if children then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him. that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:17.)
"Our High Priest has opened the way for us to the throne of grace in the holy places of heaven, so that we have no need of any other priest, but can for ourselves "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." (Hebrews 10:19-22.)
TO HIM THE GLORY
"To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Of course. It all rightfully belongs to Him, and if He has washed us from our sins in His own blood, we shall rejoice to see His enemies be made His footstool. We should rejoice in it even if we did not have a share in His glory, but as we receive His rewards for faithful service we shall rejoice the more.
"Can you join with John and with all the saints of God in praising the Christ "that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father," and do you desire with all your heart that He shall have glory and dominion for ever?
This joy and this testimony can be yours through faith in His blood. (Romans 3:20-28.)
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist newspaper, September 14, 1979, pp. 1, 3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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