When we wash our hands to clean off the grime and germs, do we actually clean them ourselves? No and yes. To be precise, the soap and water does the job—not us. But we make the choice to use the soap and water to clean our hands.
In 2 Timothy 2, the apostle Paul tells us, “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself . . . he will be a vessel for honor” (v.21). This does not mean that we on our own have the power to cleanse ourselves from sin. Rather, we use the cleansing provided by Jesus Christ, who died for us on the cross.
Philippians 3:9 tells us that we are “found in Him, not having [our] own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
When we receive Christ, His death and resurrection sets us free from the penalty and the power of sin, thus enabling us to say no and yes in everyday life. We can say no to the desires of the flesh, or “youthful lusts” that Paul mentioned (2 Tim. 2:22). And we can say yes to “righteousness” (right behavior), “faith” (right belief), “love” (right response), and “peace” (right focus).
As we’re cleansed daily, we’ll be “useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (v.21).