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The verse of interest here is Heb 10:22 (ESV):

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Now Jesus talks about a watery flow out of the heart as being a function of the Holy Spirit.

John 7:38-39 (ESV):

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Additionally there many other Scriptures likening the heart to water.

Prov 27:19 (ESV):

As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.

Prov 21:1 (ESV):

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Does this suggest that Holy Spirit will literally cleanse the physical body?

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I see some well thought out answers, but I would think that the most likely answer is that the reference here is to baptism. Consider some parallel passages:

1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Consider how these passages on baptism might parallel the statement of the Hebrews writer. First, eact describe a working of the Holy Spirit that occurs in baptism. Second, they relate the concept that while baptism is a physical action (in which the body is washed/immersed), the spiritual work there is that we are cleansed of our sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit (i.e. life) is given.

Consider that these passages would then support this idea:

Romans 6:3-4 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Colossians 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

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Hebrews 9:

14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Heb 10:

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

The blood of Christ cleanses our consciences. This is a spiritual reality, not physical. "our bodies washed with pure water" is in this spiritual context, not literal.

John 7:38-39 (ESV):

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This too is a spiritual reality, not physical.

Does this suggest that Holy Spirit will literally cleanse the physical body?

No, the Holy Spirit does not physically wash our physical body. If there is dirt on my face, I cannot rely on the Holy Spirit to wash the dirt off my face.

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(Greetings and welcome) - The Holy Spirit does not ‘wash’. We are specifically told what the Holy Spirit does do in John 16, and elsewhere, and in no place does it mention ‘washing’.

However we are told what does wash …

EPH 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word

And, in John, we are told what needs to be washed ..

JOHN 13:10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet,

This passage Jesus is saying those already cleansed via forgiveness only need ‘superficial’ cleansing. Later in Johns letters we see this contextualised into a ‘born again’ believers life ..

1 JOHN 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John here tells us that our flesh can be cleansed, but this is not via water, but via blood.

The point being that it’s not the Holy Spirit that cleanses. This is not part of His role, or purpose.

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  • what if we expand our definition to cleaning inside the body? i.e. rebuking disease and healing. The body is returned from a state of disorder to order, right? Oct 5, 2021 at 18:49
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    @KeenanDiggs The passage from Hebrews is as clear as possible: "our bodies washed with pure water." Is this not a direct reference to baptism? If not, what of these: Acts 2:38: “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, for the remission of sins”; Acts 22:16: “Arise and be baptized… and wash away your sins”; Mark 16:16: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved..”. In case we still have doubts: 1 Peter 3:21: “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you…”; Galatians 3:27: "[All] of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
    – Xeno
    Oct 5, 2021 at 19:02
  • @KeenanDiggs You are ‘heading’ in the right direction. ‘Healing’ is [only] required for the ‘flesh’.
    – Dave
    Oct 5, 2021 at 19:13
  • @Dave I would suggest that "healing" also applies to the spirit. Each time a person is saved, they have "put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27) where they are cleansed. All others remain slaves of sin and death (Rom. 6:16), their consciences bearing witness against them (1 Cor. 8:10, 1 Cor. 10:25, 29, 1 Tim. 1:5, 1 Tim. 3:9, Heb. 13:18). This aspect of our spiritual being, our conscience, must be cleansed: Titus 1:15: "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted."
    – Xeno
    Oct 6, 2021 at 8:33
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    @Xeno (IMHO) … You can’t ‘heal’ a spirit. It must die and be recreated.
    – Dave
    Oct 6, 2021 at 19:28
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We should be careful not to confuse the Bible metaphors. Water is used primarily in the NT as a symbol of the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • Being baptized (immersed) in the Spirit. The rite of Baptism was the symbol of a Spirit baptism at conversion, Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5, 2:38, 8:12-16, 10:47, 48, 11:16, 19:4, 5.
  • The Holy Spirit and His influence on the life and lives of people around the Christian is likened to a river of water flowing out of the person, John 7:38, 39 (and 4:14).
  • Baptism symbolized repentance (ie, a change of life direction, ie, conversion) and was accompanied by confession and a “washing” away of (ie, turning away from) sin. Mark 1:4, 5, Luke 3:3, 7-12, 7:29, 30, Acts 2:38, 13:24, 16:15, 33, 19:4, 5, 22:16, Rom 6:4, Gal 3:27. (See also 1 Cor 6:11.)

Thus, it is not surprising that water and the washing of the body is used as a metaphor of miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. Note the frequent references to this:

  • 1 Cor 6:11 - And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • Acts 22:16 - And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on His name.’
  • Eph 5:26 - to sanctify her [= the church], cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
  • Rev 7:14 - “Sir,” I answered, “you know.” So he replied, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
  • Heb 10:22 - let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
  • John 4:14 - But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

All these are metaphoric references/allusions to the work of the Holy Spirit, some specifically to baptism. The "body" being washed in an allusion to another metaphor used by Paul in Rom 6 -

1 What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? 3 Or aren’t you aware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. 7 For anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

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