Cleanliness is next to godliness is a phrase everyone knows. Many people assume it’s a verse in the Bible.
While this phrase is connected to Christianity, the saying doesn’t exist in the scriptures.
The expression is a proverb which can be traced to the Babylonian and Hebrew tracts.
The first use of the quote was in the writings of Sir Francis Bacon, a philosopher and a scientist in 1605.
He quipped: “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.”
In 1778, the famous expression “cleanliness is next to godliness” was referenced in one of John Wesley’s sermon.
He wrote: Slovenliness is no part of religion…cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.”
We can’t tell where the idea of connecting cleanliness with godliness came from. In the Bible, most of the mosaic laws centred on “clean and unclean”.
God instructed his children to avoid dead bodies and carcasses, eating certain animals, leprosy, and bodily discharges which were all termed as unclean.
The unclean person had to undergo elaborate washing rituals so that he could gain re- entry into the community and sanctuary of the Lord (Numbers 19).
Yes, the Bible talks much about washing and cleansing. Our founding fathers also reiterated the importance of Christians being clean physically.
But the Biblical truth indicates that we should be cleansed of our sins.
Without God granting us a new heart and eliminating our impurities, we cannot be in relationship with him.
Godliness is as a result of a real relationship with Jesus, not our efforts to keep up proper appearances.
When we’re saved, we become completely clean and righteous before God, and only then can we partake in his godliness.
Bible Verses related to Cleanliness and Godliness
1. 2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2. Isaiah 1:16 KJV
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
3. Deuteronomy 23:12-14 KJV
Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
4. Ephesians 5:26-27 KJV
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
5. Matthew 23:26 KJV
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
6. Ezekiel 36:25-27 KJV
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
7. Haggai 2:13-14 KJV
Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord ; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
8. Psalms 51:7 KJV
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
9 .1 John 1:9 KJV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You May Also Like: No is Promised Tomorrow Bible