Tuesday, April 4, 2023

           As you probably know, there is a danger in leaving wood exposed to the elements of weather like sun and rain. Wood can easily weaken and suffer weather damage when exposed to the elements.  To guard against this, we often stain wood to seal it.  One thing about stain is this...it does stain.  It discolors and permanently marks anything that it touches.  Some companies that manufacture stain guarantee it for ten years or more.  So, when we use stain, we usually must be careful to wear older shoes and clothes so that if we get any stain on ourselves, it wouldn’t matter.  The clothes are old and even disposable. 
            Sin is a lot like stain.  It does not go away.  It leaves a permanent mark.  It saturates every corner, crevice and fiber of our lives.  No part is immune.  And it lasts for longer than 10 years.  Sin impacts the mind, the heart and the body.  It colors the past, present and future.  The Bible has some vivid words to describe sin…transgressions, trespasses, rebellion, scarlet, iniquities and the list goes on.  Often, like the stain we put on wood, we can see our sins.  We can see, hear, feel and recognize our sins.  They stand out like lint on a dark jacket.  They weigh us down.  They handcuff us.  They wrap us in chains.  They drown us as they pull us further down and down and down.  David wrote in Psalm 51:3, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” 
            But often we can be oblivious to our sins.  We can overlook them, minimize them, ignore them, even dismiss them.  We can try to explain them away.  We often engage in comparative righteousness to make ourselves feel and seem alright because we’re better than _______ or not as bad as _________.  We might even characterize sins as “big ones” or “small ones.”  We can even give ourselves a pass while holding others to impossibly high standards.   
            You may recall from history that President Nixon had a rather infamous “enemies list.”  On that list were hundreds of names of people who were political or personal enemies of President Nixon.  The purpose of having such a list was to punish the opponents of the president through IRS audits, withholding federal funds from certain projects or areas and tying people in knots over endless federal litigation.  The Watergate hearings made this list public.
            In a sense, God has an enemies list as well.  And we are all on it.  Paul and James used the notion of enemies to describe people who live in opposition to God.  Paul even included himself as someone who was an enemy of God before His conversion in Christ.  He wrote in Colossians 1:21, “once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”  James wrote, “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  We cannot and will not be able to serve two masters Jesus said.   
            But the good news is God has made a way to clear the list.  We can move from hostility toward the Lord to friendship with Him.  Only the Lord can remove the indelible stains that sin leaves upon us.  Listen again to the moving words of Isaiah…surely, He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.  Only the Lord could make right what we have repeatedly done wrong. 
            David recognized his sinfulness following his ordeal with Bathsheba and ordering the murder of Uriah, her husband.  David wrote in Psalm 51, “for I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”  What he had overlooked suddenly stood out like a stain on a white shirt.  What he had chosen to pursue suddenly became revolting to him.  So, David collapsed before the Lord and pleaded for His grace, mercy and forgiveness.  David cried out in the same psalm, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
            This holy week shows us who we are.  We see ourselves clearly in Scripture and in the life of Christ.  We are sin-scarred and sin-stained.  People in need of a broken body and shed blood to make us whole.  And on this day, we cry out for the Lord to have mercy upon us.  Have a good Tuesday.  Remember that you can always connect with our worship and share it with others at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.

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