Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Living Water

It has been interesting in studying the Bible how consistent it is to relay salvation as more than just a state of having eternal life but also as changing us to be what we were intended to be; people who love and serve the Lord rather than rebelling.  This seems to be the opposite of what some teach; that one can believe some facts of Jesus and be justified but no real change need occur.  It matters little if you love the Lord and submit to his lordship as long as you "walked the aisle" all is well; you are on your way to Heaven.  Oh, it is better if you make him Lord but the important thing is that you "get saved" because, after all, all that really matters is man.  If God doesn't get the glory he deserves, it must not be that important!
The account in John 4 concerning the Samaritan woman seems to be recorded in such a way that makes the concept above to be completely off track.  It teaches us that when God saves someone, they are no longer what they were before.  2 Kings 17 offers some back ground on the Samaritans.  When the northern kingdom of Israel fell five other people groups were brought in to intermarry with those Jews left in the land so they lost not only their national identify but began to add false gods to their worship of Jehovah.  So they added 5 false gods to the true God and became thoroughly pagan.  The Jews considered them dogs not just because of their blood line but also because they tried to worship God their way instead of the true way.
Vs. 18 adds to the picture as we see her having tried to find happiness with five men, now living with the sixth.  Like sin and Satan, they had used her but left her with nothing.  The account adds to this by telling us that she kept coming to this well to quench her thirst but her thirst never was truly quenched.  She is a good picture of the lost, running from one pleasure to another looking for what only God can give.  But it isn’t quite this simple because she was unclean before God.  Like all the lost, everything they touch is defiled because they do not do all things for the glory of God.  Instead of honoring God with her life, she can only dishonor him and so has no purpose for her life and no hope for eternity because she is unfit to see and enjoy God.
This brings us to the living water spoken of by the Lord.  In Numbers 19 we learn that one could become unclean by a host of different things and in each case it made you unable to serve God.  The remedy is found in vs. 17 where they were to pour running water over themselves.  The word running is of the same type as living in John 4; both speak of lively or bubbly. 
While the OT water didn’t really cleanse sin at all, Jesus spoke of spiritual water in the form of the Holy Spirit that when coming into contact with sinners forgives their sins and enables them to glorify God in their lives.  It is not unusual for people to think of the living water in John 4 as speaking of salvation but too often we forget what comes along with salvation; a new nature.  Once this woman comes into contact with Jesus she is never the same and I would suggest this is true of all saints; no exceptions.
In the OT unclean things always contaminated clean things without exception.  Something clean never purified the unclean.  Send your clean child out into the yard and see how clean he makes it.  This, of course, is why salvation by works is a fool’s mission.  Nothing a sinner does will ever be righteous; everything he does is contaminated by sin.  There is only one time in all of the Bible or history for that matter in which the clean cleansed whatever he touched and that was Jesus.  Every sick person whom he touched was healed, every dead one was made alive.  He alone could say that he always did the will of the Father.
Unlike Christ, everything this woman touched was defiled.  She ran from man to man in a mad dash to find happiness and then die like a dog.  This is why she kept coming back to the well, because nothing satisfied her.  She is a poor obscure woman who was never going to do anything of any real purpose and value; so well does she depict the condition of all of us when we are born into the world.  But when she comes into contact with the Living Water all this changes.  She realizes her need is not physical but spiritual.  She is made alive to God and becomes clean from her sin and now her whole life does an about face.
We see this in 28-29 when she leaves her old water pots and goes to her unsaved friends.  Instead of using men, she brings them to Christ!  We, like her, carry Jesus where ever we go and when we do all for the glory of God we purify that which the world degrades when they use things for selfish ends. 
My point is that if we have truly come into contact with the Living Water, we have been made alive and are to honor God with our lives.  In the OT the dead person was a chief source of contamination.  Those dead in their sins can only dishonor God no matter what they do.  Paul told the widows in 1 Timothy that were living only for themselves that they were dead even while they lived.  If they were saved their lives resembled the lost and it was ruining their ability to serve the Lord.  But those alive in Christ have the capacity to glorify him in all they do. 
The Bible just doesn’t teach that a Christian can live as he did before anymore than a butterfly will continue to crawl when it can fly!

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