Jesus speaks of being clean in John 15. Obviously He is not talking about bathing; He is talking about being cleansed from all unrighteousness. Receiving or rejecting the Word of God, which is absolute Truth, determines whether we remain filthy (as Revelation speaks of), or whether we are cleansed from the stain and consequence of sin.
John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
John 13:10 Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
John 17:16-17 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
When we receive the Jesus as our Lord and Savior, surrendered to Him completely and trusting in Him alone; we need to be careful not to slip in to striving in the flesh and think we will earn His favor.
1John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Notice how in verse 8 John says, “if we say that we have no sin”…cleansing does not start until we first realize we need cleansing. For example, if a person doesn’t agree with God that fornicating is a sin, even if it was with your “spouse to be”, why would that person confess it to God? Confessing our sin to God starts with, first, agreeing with God that it is sin. Once we know this to be true our heart breaks over the reality of our depravity…that is what Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on Mount when He says, blessed are those that mourn; this refers to a person mourning over their sin.
Matthew 5:3-6 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
The slippery slope is when the Lord grants us repentance and in an effort to “earn” more of His favor we start striving in the flesh (as mentioned above). In God’s sovereignty He knew this would happen so, through Paul, He warns us:
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
We need to stand firm in God’s promise in 1John 1:9 and not forget the only Way in which we are cleansed:
1John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Hebrews 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Colossians 1:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
The other slippery slope is receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior and then “putting it in neutral”, so to speak. Continuing life without any real change because “your hand has been stamped” and you are covered by Grace. Jesus warns very clearly in John 15 that the real evidence of belonging to Him is that you abide in Him and bear fruit. In addition, He makes it very clear that apart from Him you can do NOTHING of any Kingdom value:
John 15:4-5 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Jesus then “ups the ante” and says that if you do not abide in Him you will be cast out and burned. The age old argument is, are these “branches” (people) that are cast out and burned still saved; after all, in Matthew 3 John the Baptist speaks of Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire:
John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
Matthew 3:10-11 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
If someone is not abiding in Jesus Christ, and Jesus clearly said that they will be cast out and thrown in to the fire, I do not see how that is not referencing hell. Scripture does not contradict itself and Jesus Words along with the rest of His Words given to Paul, Peter and John seem to be pretty clear on this.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s say I am not right about that. Let’s consider what the mindset of the person that is not abiding in Christ is:
“I like the idea of going to Heaven when I die, but mostly I do not want to go to hell. I will profess Jesus as my Lord and Savior to get my hand stamped, but I prefer not to bear fruit for Him. I know He says that He desires that I abide in Him and bear fruit; and by this my Heavenly Father is glorified, but I would really just rather do my own thing and let other “super Christians” do the bearing fruit thing.”
In light of the rest of God’s Word does this make any sense at all? Why would Jesus tell us that the world will hate us if we can continue to do our own thing looking just like the rest of the world?
John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.