Bone Up for the Clean Cup


For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.  2 Corinthians 7:10

Grace and peace to you fellow sojourners!

I enjoy warm drinks, especially on chilly days.  I have discovered the coffee to be especially good when my friend prepares it and presents it to me; delicious!  Tea in the early morning is also extraordinarily good because my husband makes it and brings it to me as I study.  And of course it goes without saying, the cuter the cup, the better!

I am sure you have a favorite beverage and wonderful memories associated not only with the taste but also with the aroma.  Imagine the anticipation of sipping your favorite refreshment just to notice it will be poured into a repulsively filthy cup.   Would you permit someone to pour anyway and muster up your most polite southern manners to drink it or at least pour it out when no one was noticing?  Or in your disgust would you immediately halt the pouring and insist on a clean cup because regardless of how cute the cup might be on the outside the inside is indeed the priority.  Well, Jesus has something to say about this dirty cup business (Luke 11:39).

Sometimes the Lord illuminates me by permitting me to visualize ideas, and this was one of those occasions.  I was preparing to go somewhere, so I was busying myself with my outward appearance while pondering my reading that morning regarding the vain offerings spoken about in Isaiah 1:11, 13.  (The meaning of the word ‘vain’ in this verse is the Hebrew word ‘shav’ and means things like uselessness, deceptive, in vain, falsely, lying, and vanity.)

The Lord brought to my understanding how He values repentance (1 John 1:9), but it must be because we realize it is God we have sinned against (2 Corinthians 7:10) for it to produce renewing repentance.  Vain, worldly repentance is when we say we are sorry only to avoid the uncomfortableness of a situation, but it conclusively proves useless because it deceives ourselves and others, is lying and is, therefore, done in vain.  The result is a “cup” that might still look cute on the outside, but the inside is now dirty.  The longer we continue in this behavior, the filthier the cup becomes.  God is the only one that can cleanse our “cup” from all unrighteousness.

Israel was required to sacrifice certain prescribed animals to atone for their sins.  The aroma which resulted from these atoning sacrifices wasn’t what pleased God as much as what it represented:  repentance, clean souls, and changed lives (Leviticus 1:9, 13, 2:2, 23:18).  If the heart was right, these sacrifices were a pleasing aroma to the Lord (Numbers 15:3).  However, over time Israel left the condition of the heart out of the sacrifice, and it became just ‘a work,’ and God had this to say about it, “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams…Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me” (Isaiah 1:11, 13).

Have you considered your ‘vain’ confessions to be an abomination?  The pleasing aroma wafts from a sacrifice of genuine repentance motivated by a truly humble and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).  Fellow sojourners, ask the Lord to give you the heartfelt desire to keep your inward ‘cup’ free from filth and debris that would disrupt the complete work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Returning to the Luke 11:39 verse, why else would you suppose Jesus would be concerned about the condition of the inside of your “cup?”   Because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us (Romans 5:5).  Since the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts wouldn’t it be wise to make sure our ‘cup’ stays clean through repentance and the subsequent cleansing the Lord does in us on our behalf?  Martin Luther famously wrote in the first of his ninety-five theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” Repentance is not peripheral to a life of worship. It’s at the very heart, which is why God sees repentance as especially fragrant.


Thank you, Lord, for pouring Your Holy Spirit into my heart.  May you impress on me, even more, the importance of true repentance which will result in your cleansing me of all unrighteousness.  I desire for my “cup” (heart) to be clean.  When You prompt me to repent, I desire to do so immediately.  Open my eyes and ears and soften my heart to your promptings.  Your servant is listening.  In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray, amen.

In His grace,