(Proverbs 20:9 KJV) Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
Welcome to Proof-text Harbor. This verse is a delight for Calvinists. Link it up with Paul saying that no one is righteous and you have a theology. I often read attacks on people who claim they are without sin and the blatant accusation is that they are so perfect that they have never sinned and never will sin. If anyone actually made that claim they should be attacked. The claim of Wesleyan theology is that the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to give us victory over sin, not that we are strong enough to do it ourselves.
This verse takes the claim a bit further. Words like “cleansed” (2135) and “pure” (2891) set some people’s teeth on edge. They say we cannot cleanse their hearts or be purified from sin. This is a bit of a straw man. There is really no disagreement on this verse. The statement here is one that both sides of the aisle can agree on. Holiness people do not believe they have “cleansed” (2135) their hearts, they believe God has done it.
If you look back at verse 7, Proverbs refers to a righteous man walking in integrity. If you look through Proverbs for uses of the word righteous you see it again and again. In that context we are reminded here that we cannot do this ourselves. We sometimes forget that Jesus and the Holy Spirit existed before Christmas and Pentecost. They have been active throughout history. Yesterday I gave you a reference in Ezekiel.
Can we do it on our own? The Bible quivers with a resounding “NO!” Can God do it? Try to tell Him He can’t. Remember the question that agnostics like to ask? “Can God make a rock so big that He can’t move it?” The answer is, “Sure He could, and He will do it right after you understand the trinity, the incarnation and the depths of sin.” You see, even if He did it you would not be able to understand. I don’t know about you but I have enough things that I don’t understand.
So? Read and wonder. I tell the kids at school, “‘I don’t know’ is a good answer.” Remember that we may not know the how’s and why’s but we know the Who.