Stubborn Stains and Psalm 51

Some stains are more stubborn than others. I washed my car last week, but a couple of deposits would not shift. They were caused by degrading rubber. A vertical line of part-disolved rubber ended in two lumps on the rear panel above the bumper. Not a pretty sight. I tried various cleaning agents, and ever-increasing elbow-grease, but nothing worked.

Humbled, I went to Halfords and bought Swarfega’s ‘Jizer’. I don’t know what’s in it, but I liked the promise it made to remove rubber deposits from my car’s bodywork. Yesterday I put it to the test. A quick spray, some energetic work with a cloth and all was as new! No stains, no deposits, no rubber, only gleaming blue paintwork.

It strikes me there is a spiritual parallel to this. We are all made bright, spanking, sparkly new when we are forgiven, “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” (Hebrews 9:14 NIV11-GK). However, we do not always live in the joy of this forgiveness.

On occasions we find ourselves weighed down with guilt and under conviction like David after his adultery with Bathsheba. He wanted a fresh start and assurance from God that he was not rejected, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalms 51:10–12 NIV11-GK).

All God-followers go through times like this – if they are honest. How can we remain stain-free? Three quick tips.

  1. Face the Facts. Admit to God what you have done and allow yourself no self-justification or excuses for your sin, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalms 51:3 NIV11-GK). Circumstances and people may have influenced you, but you and you alone committed the sin. There is freedom in admitting and owning this truth. Now it is just about you and God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;” (Psalms 51:4 NIV11-GK).
  2. Call for Cleansing. God wants to forgive and stands ready to do so. He was not surprised at your sin, even if He was disappointed, and He has forgiven many people for the exact same sin you are burdened by. However, it is still important to ask for the forgiveness, since this is what makes the relationship real, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalms 51:7 NIV11-GK)
  3. Teach the Transgressors. A friend of mine said, “Sin is never justified, and never good. But when you do sin, don’t waste it.” We can be stronger after sin if we learn from it and teach others so they can avoid it. This takes humility, for how can we teach others about sin unless we are open about our own. David commits to this, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” (Psalms 51:13 NIV11-GK). Will you?
Three tips to stay clean, and feel clean. They say, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. That saying is not in the Bible, but a clean conscience draws us closer to God.
Malcolm Cox

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