Already Ye Are Clean Because of the Word I Have Spoken Unto You–John 15:3
What is the pruning knife of this heavenly Husbandman? It is often said to be
affliction. By no means in the first place. How would it then fare with many who
have long seasons free from adversity; or with some on whom God appears to
shower down kindness all their life long? No; it is the Word of God that is the
knife, shaper than any two-edged sword, that pierces even to the dividing
asunder of the soul and spirit, and is quick to discern the thoughts and intents of
the heart. It is only when affliction leads to this discipline of the Word that it
becomes a blessing; the lack of this heart-cleansing through the Word is the
reason why affliction is so often unsanctified. Not even Paul’s thorn in the flesh
could become a blessing until Christ’s Word–“My strength is made perfect in
weakness”–had made him see the danger of self-exaltation, and made him
willing to rejoice in infirmities.
The Word of God’s pruning knife. Jesus says: “Ye are already clean, because of
the word I have spoken unto you.” How searchingly that word had been spoken
by Him, out of whose mouth there went a sharp two-edged sword, as he had
taught them! “Except a man deny himself, lose his life, forsake all, hate father
and mother, he cannot be My disciple, he is not worthy of Me”; or as He humbled
their pride, or reproved their lack of love, or foretold their all forsaking Him. From
the opening of His ministry in the Sermon on the Mount to His words of warning
in the last night, His Word had tried and cleansed them. He had discovered and
condemned all there was of self; they were now emptied and cleansed, ready for
the incoming of the Holy Spirit.
It is as the soul gives up its own thoughts, and men’s thoughts of what is religion,
and yields itself heartily, humbly, patiently, to the teaching of the Word by the
Spirit, that the Father will do His blessed work of pruning and cleansing away all
of nature and self that mixes with our work and hinders His Spirit. Let those who
would know all the Husbandman can do for them, all the Vine can bring forth
through them, seek earnestly to yield themselves heartily to the blessed
cleansing through the Word. Let them, in their study of the Word, receive it as a
hammer that breaks and opens up, as a fire that melts and refines, as a sword
that lays bare and slays all that is of the flesh. The word of conviction will prepare
for the word of comfort and of hope, and the Father will cleanse them through the
All ye who are branches of the true Vine, each time you read or hear the Word,
wait first of all on Him to use it for His cleansing of the branch. Set your heart
upon His desire for more fruit. Trust Him as Husbandman to work it. Yield
yourselves in simple childlike surrender to the cleansing work of His Word and
Spirit, and you may count upon it that His purpose will be fulfilled in you.
Father, I pray Thee, cleanse me through Thy Word. Let it search out and bring to
light all that is of self and the flesh in my religion. Let it cut away every root of
self-confidence, that the Vine may find me wholly free to receive His life and
Spirit. O my holy Husbandman, I trust Thee to care for the branch as much as for
the Vine. Thou only art my hope.