"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." (John 15:3)

Jesus is speaking to his close disciples just before he was to be arrested by the guards of the Jewish High Priest.

Therefore, we must be careful not to take this statement out of context. The "you" Jesus is referring to are those close disciples who have been hearing Jesus' lectures and sermons.

The word "word" is being translated from the Greek word λόγος (logos), which is not to be construed as a single word in this context. According to the lexicon, λόγος (logos) can refer to "precepts" and "sayings," or "doctrine" and "teaching."

In other words, "teaching" is a better translation of this word.

Furthermore, the Greek word καθαρός (katharos) in this verse is being translated to "clean." While "clean" is not necessarily wrong, it is a word that can easily be misconstrued. According to the lexicon, the word refers to being "free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt;" or "blameless, innocent."

Jesus is speaking of spiritual purification here. He is referring to the state of ones consciousness.

Many consider being "cleansed" as in being "cleansed of sins" - as something akin to being washed. Like we might wash our car. As if "sins" are like dirt that we can just wash off from the exterior.

This is not true. The "cleansing" or "purification" that Jesus is discussing here is not some kind of automatic process - as if his disciples were being hosed off by Jesus' teachings.

Rather, they were hearing Jesus' teachings, and because those teachings enlightened them about the Supreme Being and the spiritual realm, hearing those teachings resulted in a change of consciousness among his students.

It is this change of consciousness that produces purification when it comes to hearing the teachings of God's representative.

For example, if a person were to pick up a Bible thinking it was an ordinary book, would he be automatically cleansed or purified? Would he be cleansed or purified by opening up the Bible and leafing through the New Testament? How about if he couldn't understand English and he were to look at the words on the pages without reading them? Would these acts result in the purification that Jesus is discussing here?

No. Certainly having unconscious contact with the scripture or with God's representative can have some purifying effect to ones consciousness - assuming that contact is not offensive. But consider a person who was to burn the Bible - or any scripture. Or a person who was to attack God's representative. That type of activity would be offensive, and the person would end up in a worst state of hell than they already were in.

What Jesus is speaking of with this verse is a change of heart. Jesus' teachings invoke a change of heart because they reveal the real nature of the Supreme Being, and our relationship with Him.

More specifically, Jesus' teachings reveal a loving, merciful Supreme Being who is ready to forgive us and take us back, even though we have turned our backs on Him and ignored Him for so long. Even though we have been envious of His power and His authority, He is ready to embrace us and take us back to the spiritual realm with Him, because He loves us and wants us to be happy.

And all we have to do, according to Jesus' teachings, is to love Him and serve Him.

These are the only requirements. We don't have to be a member of any specific organization. We don't have to be of a particular race or nationality. We don't have to be a particular sex or occupation. We don't have to be in a higher class or a lower class of society. We don't have to be rich or poor. We simply have to cherish and love the Supreme Being - who is the Perfect Person, our Soul Mate and the Person we've been looking for our entire lives.

These are Jesus' teachings. And these teachings have a purifying effect upon the heart of a person who has to that point been self-focused. Such a person might have a heart full of envy, hatred and selfishness, but when they hear about the Supreme Being from someone who knows Him, this can melt the heart and create a change of consciousness.

And it is not as though such a change of heart is necessarily complete and permanent in the beginning. A person may feel some change of heart initially, and want to love and serve the Supreme Being, and then may again languish back to their self-centered consciousness. Then they may have another surge forward, and then another step back. There is an expression for this: two steps forward and one step back. A real change of heart is a process. It is a gradual process of learning, applying, and then learning and applying some more.

This is a necessary process because we have lifetimes and lifetimes of accumulated self-centered desires to cleanse from our hearts. We have to work through those - not alone, but with the help of the teachings of God's representative. We study the teachings of God's representative, and then we apply them. We may fall back a little, but then we study more, and then make more progress. All of this progress is guided by the Supreme Being from within, but we must also be resolute in our determination to change.

The Supreme Being wants us to return to the spiritual realm, but it is not easy to make the necessary changes. The spiritual realm is a place of selfless love - there is no envy, lust, hatred or selfishness in the spiritual realm. For most of us, this means we have to be purified of our self-centeredness before we are eligible to return to the spiritual realm.

We can't do it alone. The Supreme Being must guide us. We need His help. And the Supreme Being helps us by sending His loving representative to teach us about Him, and how to apply those teachings in a practical way.

Regardless of how self-centered and hard-hearted we seem, we should never give up. Because the Supreme Being has the key to unlock our hard hearts. It is love. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian institutional influence, see the Devotional Translation  - translated from the original Greek texts.)