Remember what soap was touted as 99 and 44/100% pure? I'll Gamble you do, and I won't Proctor you if you look it up. With apologies for misspelling "Procter" for the sake of a bad pun, the answer is Ivory Soap. "Pure" soap contains nothing but fatty acids and alkali, yucky sounding ingredients that make up most soap. Ivory had a mere soupon of impurities, much less than the most popular soap of the time. Compared to castile soap, it was pure.
This month is February, from the Latin word Februarius, a purification ritual performed on February 15. Little is known about the ritual, but the purpose was to purge one of impurities.
Lady Macbeth is known for not being much of a lady. She assisted Lord Macbeth in killing King Duncan. Racked with guilt, Lady M tried to wash imaginary bloodstains from her hands, uttering those immortal words, "Out damn'd spot!"
Speaking of immortal words, the adage, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," is not far from biblical truth.
Our culture is obsessed with physical cleanliness. As fear of microbes soars, so do sales of hand lotions. Public areas have lotion dispensers in strategic places, and many public restrooms have "no-touch" automatic fixtures so you don't have to touch them and contract some gruesome, grisly disease from your fellow human beings. Never mind that you still have to handle the doorknob or touch the lotion bottle that was handled by someone before he used the lotion!
Concern for moral cleanliness, however, seems in short supply. Moral impurity is a far more difficult malady to escape and, once infected, the mental microbes cling with the tenacity of Lady Macbeth's imaginary bloodstains. Physical dirt may be uncomfortable and unhealthy, but moral uncleanness has eternal consequences.
Speaking of heaven, the Bible warns, "But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27). God scolded His people, "When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!" (Isaiah 1:15). He said of their efforts to cleanse themselves, "'Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me,' declares the Sovereign Lord" (Jeremiah 2:22). Despite seeking relief from guilt through religious rituals, "Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud'" (2 Peter 2:22). We love to sin.
Against temptations and failures among us, God's requirements are clear. "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:8). "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you" (James 1:21). Although the situation seems hopeless, there is a liquid that will purify us from moral maladies: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
It's not enough to be 99 and 44/100% pure, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10). God demands 100%! Dogs and sows won't do. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word" (Psalm 119:9).
This month was initially dedicated to purification. Wouldn't it be comforting to know that your sins are forgiven and your soul has been sanitized from moral microbes? Ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior today and you can be 100% pure!
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