Occasionally something happens in our household that I hope no one ever finds out about. The first Saturday in January was one of those occasions.
We had a family meal together just before leaving to spend the holidays in California. At that time we planned a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for January 9, after we returned. On the 9th, our daughter arrived early to help in the kitchen. She wanted to make a green salad so began pulling out ingredients and asked her brother to get down the salad bowls. When he did, out came groans and words like “yuck”... The top bowl was clean...but the four underneath it and the large serving bowl had been put back into the cupboard without first making a trip through the dishwasher.
We couldn’t decide whether to throw them out or boil them in bleach. The kids were soon laughing because no one had a clue “who did it.” Even the person who did will never know because none of us would have done it deliberately (we are generally a family of “cleanies”) and it had to have happened at that last meal together before Christmas, too long ago to clearly remember. So out came the puns, wisecracks, and accusations. It will become a family memory of sorts, one to bring up when we are reminiscing over a bowl of popcorn (especially if it is served in that salad bowl!)
After the turkey leftovers were in the frig I began to think about a promise that God made to the people of Israel, a promise that also applies to any who will claim it: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
How does God clean up the sin that disgusts Him? Do we have to be recycled, boiled in bleach, or is it possible to be so disgusting that His only option is to toss us on the scrap pile and look for better material?
His response to our sin could be described by my rough paraphrase of that verse in Isaiah: “Come now, let’s think this out together, says the Lord: though your sins be as disgusting to me as month-old leftover salad is to you, you can be as appealing and as pleasing to me as turkey dinner with all the trimmings has been to you.”
The next promise God gave about being clean from sin is in Ezekiel 36: “...then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and you 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 put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and you shall keep my judgements and do them...”
The promise was fulfilled in the New Testament. Following a description of sinners, I Corinthians says: “And such WERE some of you but NOW you are washed, but now you are sanctified, but now you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
He makes sinners clean! How does He do it?
The Father said that without the shedding of blood there would be no forgiveness for sin. So the nation of Israel were commanded to trust God and sacrifice unblemished lambs. However that did not change their sinfulness.
When Jesus, the Lamb of God, died on the cross, the Word of God says His blood was shed not only so those who believe in Him could be forgiven, but so we could be cleansed as well, and our very nature changed. “How much more (than the blood of lambs) shall the blood of Christ... purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Our part is to believe in His provision for cleansing, confess our sins and remain in the light of His Word: “If we confess our sin He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Sin may be repulsive to God but because of His power to make clean, we can be clean; not cast aside but made precious to Him.