This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father … to keep oneself unstained by the world ~ James 1:27, NASB.
Do you like organic beets? Those deep-red purplish ones. Occasionally, I used to bring some home to cook, but I had to bribe my daughters to eat them. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
Why the need for culinary creativity? When the girls were small, vegetables weren’t on their menu, unless French fries counted. Cait, the younger one, had taste buds that could laser-out any veggie, no matter how cleverly I tried to disguise it.
One evening my mother joined us for dinner, and I served a new creation: beets in a lovely orange sauce. After one bite, Cait screwed up her mouth as though she had just tasted poison and refused to eat it. Meg wasn’t sure about the new combination, but my mother adored it. Having already cautioned them not to splash beets on their clothes, I turned to admire Mother’s appreciation for all my careful work. To my dismay, a big red spot glared at me from her white, dry clean-only blouse.
No, that red circle would not come out completely, even after the cleaners had tried every available remedy. The shirt was ruined.
Have you ever had a stain that refused to wash out? In the Word, sin is also described as a stain. Try as we might, this kind can’t be washed out with worldly products. We might think that attending church, doing good deeds, and volunteering, for example, can remove those stains, but instead, they set more deeply. We don blinders and refuse to look, convincing ourselves that we are clean and white. Although invisible on the outside, how do our hearts appear in God’s eyes? He alone can see into the depths of our souls, and try as we might, we can’t hide from His scrutiny.
Have you ever accidentally fallen or cut yourself? Whenever I’m injured, I can never look. I grasp the wound and squeeze while I grimace and look away. The sight of blood nauseates me and makes my ears buzz. But when I finally get enough courage to peek and am convinced that I won’t die, then I can deal with cleaning and bandaging it. (No, I could never have become a nurse. Obviously.)
But, can we take off our blinders and examine our souls? We can cover up our sins with all kinds of excuses and home-remedies, but we have to open our wounds to God’s scrutiny. He is the One who cleans, sterilizes, and bandages so it can heal. He cleans out all the sin from our hearts and makes us whole, erasing the stain so completely that it is as though we had never sinned.
King David cried out to God when confronted by Nathan the prophet regarding his sin with Bathsheba:
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
7 [g]Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
[h]Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
9 Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities. ~ Psalm 51:1-2, 7, 9, NASB.
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the Good News is that our sins can be washed away in the blood of the Lamb. May our salvation give us joy and be a testimony to bring others to the cross of Christ.
10 Create [j]in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew [k]a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will [l]be converted to You. ~ Psalm 51:10-13, NASB.