Some of the ancient cliff-dwellers of Arizona had an interesting way of cleaning house. The smoke of their fires filled their dwellings and covered their walls with a black layer of soot. When this became intolerable they did not wash or scrape it off, but plastered over it with a fresh coat of mortar. Researchers have found no fewer than eleven such coats of soot and mortar—one above the other.
How we shrink from facing the dirt—the sin—within us! It seems so much easier to apply another layer of morality and respectability and self-righteousness. Outwardly, it leaves the soul a bright white, but scratch it anywhere and the truth is revealed.
Someday, in the white light of the holiness of God, all this whitewash will peel off and all will be revealed. When God says, “Wash you, make you clean” (Isaiah 1:16), He does not mean a little cosmetic polishing up of outward appearances, nor a little more socially-acceptable behavior. God desires “truth in the inward parts,” but “who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Psalm 51:6; Proverbs 20:9).
It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we can be washed and cleansed and made fit for the presence of God. No effort of our own can make us so, but believing and receiving His cleansing makes us “clean every whit” (John 13:10).
“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” (Isaiah 1:18).
—Echoes of Grace