“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 21:27).”
Can you imagine how different our daily lives would be if there were no sin? Locks on our houses would be obsolete. We could walk down any street at any time of the night. When some Nigerian prince emailed us to tell us that he wanted to send us a boatload of money, we would respond with excited thankfulness. Yet, in reality, we respond differently because we know that there are thieves, liars, and lovers of violence in the world.
The knowledge of sin in this world is baked into our daily lives. It’s difficult for us to think of life without sin. But think we must, for there’s an eternal city that is promised to us where “nothing unclean will ever enter into it.”
We are likely meant to marvel at such a world, since it is so radically different than what we know in the present. The apostle John, however, is not writing this as so much recorded information about our future destinies, rather he’s writing this to warn people in the present by describing the final outcome of their choices.
I sat next to the same man for thirteen straight hours in my delayed flight back from Russia and I would estimate that we were in conversation for at least 8 of those hours. Eventually our conversation turned toward things spiritual - things related to God and our destinies. He said to me: “I just can’t believe that a loving God would condemn someone who tried to do good in life. And I’m willing to take my chances on that belief.” Yet God would beg to differ, and he loves us too much to not tell us the truth. I spoke to my seatmate by saying that there was nothing in my life that I believed would win God’s acceptance, rather I was counting on what Jesus the Lamb did for me - after all, it is the Lamb’s book of life. Nothing unclean will enter this eternal city. So, the question of the hymn should be the question we ask ourselves: “What can wash away my sin?” The answer of course is: “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”