"Cleanliness is next to Godliness." While it's a familiar saying, it's not something you'd find in Scripture, at least, not exactly. Cleanliness never made anyone Godly, but Godliness makes one clean!
Science continues to inform us to proper cleanliness. Imagine that just a little more than 100 years ago, there were no real antiseptic or antibacterial practices, not even in surgery! Meanwhile, in 2018 grocery stores provide wipes to clean your shopping cart, moms are packing hand sanitizer in every purse, and the church nursery disinfects every nook and cranny. Being clean is practically a mastered skill.
That's precisely the point of 2 Corinthians 7:1! We're exhorted to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." I'm sure you have some habits of cleanliness that you're particular about, right? For me, it's handling cash or handrails. Ugh. That's just nasty. But so is my sin. The sin of my flesh is far nastier than a public restroom and isn't bound by the 5-second rule.
We ought to be sickened by our sin's filth.
Just the other day, my wife commented about the likelihood of our boys getting sick while they were running amok in the fast food playground. Maybe. She's usually right. And she makes cleanliness a priority in our home. I'm sure you do too. You may have even perfected it! So consider for a second that "perfecting holiness" is the standard for you and me.
As a surgeon spends a great deal of time perfecting his own cleanliness, we're to take our personal holiness THAT seriously. Scrub and scrub and scrub. "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." Get in the Word and scrub away!
There's all sorts of people around you that take cleanliness as seriously as if they were a paid professional. What if that were your testimony? We're taught to perfect holiness! I think what the Scripture is saying is that someone should look at us and see a Christian who is professionally clean.