We were at a restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida a week ago during our Spring Break. I was sitting among our students when my grilled shrimp salad arrived. As the waitress placed it in front of me, I inquired about a student’s salad order that had not been served. As a motioned in his direction, my hand caught the edge of my salad bowl and launched that beautiful salad right into my lap! Lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, shrimp, and ranch dressing literally covered me from my chest to my thighs. I managed to pick off everything and wipe off as much of the dressing as I could, but two huge stains remained—one on my shirt, the other on my shorts. As we left the restaurant, there was no hiding these stains. They were exposed for everyone to see. There was nothing I could do until we returned to the camp where we were staying later in the day.
That evening I spot-treated the stains and put the shirt and shorts in the washer. Then, after they were washed and I couldn’t see the stains any longer, I placed them in the dryer. However, after I removed them, with the clothes dry it was obvious the stains were still there. The spot treatment had failed and I was certain that the stains now were permanently set. I told my wife and she assured me she had a way to remove the stains. So after I returned home Saturday night, she treated the stains with Dawn dishwashing soap and left them overnight. Yesterday morning, I washed them and then left them to dry in the sun. A few hours later I examined them and the stains were completely gone!
Like so many things in life, there is a spiritual lesson in this. Sometimes we think we can rid ourselves of sin on the cheap. We’ll say a prayer, try a little harder next time, and think we are good to go. Or we’ll become so exasperated with our struggles with sin that we lose hope that we can ever overcome it. Both views misconstrue the power of sin. Like oily stains, sin is stubborn and not easily removed, BUT removal is not impossible. It just takes the right treatment.
I thought my oily stains could be removed merely by a spot treatment and a wash. I underestimated the power of the stains. But then when I saw the treatment failed, I was ready to give up and declare the clothes ruined. Our approach to sin is often similar.
Paul’s words here offer both hope and a warning. Sin is removable, but it needs the right treatment. If we try to do it with anything less than the blood of Jesus, we will fail. And this is what many of us attempt to do. We know we should be living differently, but we try our own treatments—willpower, rationalization, denial, etc.—and fail. Yet, failure to remove our sin doesn’t mean it is permanent and unremovable. Rather, as Paul indicates, it just needs the right treatment. Sin can only be removed by Jesus. Our only effective response to it is to go humbly to Jesus and ask Him to take care of the problem.
Today, consider your approach to treating sin in your own life. Are you trying to remove it on your own? Have you given up trying after so many failures? There is only one treatment that is truly effective and that is Jesus. Sin is indeed powerful, but there is One (and only One) who can overcome it. He is the treatment that will solve your problem.
© Jim Musser 2017