Stain Removal

Connecting Points

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Today’s Topic: The Past is Gone

Today’s Text:  Malachi 3: 2 (ESV) For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Right before supper last night I decided to get comfortable. Because of the extreme cold and wind chill factor all of our activities at church were cancelled, so it was an opportunity to spend a relaxing evening with my wife. I put on some comfortable jogging pants and grabbed my favorite sweatshirt. There is something comforting about loose-fitting clothes. I used to own a lot of them but they seem to have all shrunk.

The off-white sweatshirt I picked out was perfectly clean. It had not been that way the day before. Those of you who know me well know that I am usually not allowed to wear white or light-colored clothing. It has nothing to do with how it looks on me – everything looks good on me. It has to do with my sloppiness. Whether it’s eating or just every day activities, I get things dirty. Not just ordinary dirt, but hard-to-remove stains. Well, I had spilled some food on it the last two times I had worn it, and my wife had to wash it several times to get the stains out. In my defense, it’s hard to eat without spilling when laying horizontally in a recliner.

So I picked up the perfectly clean ready to be worn sweatshirt and went to the kitchen to prepare supper. You’ve already figured out the rest, right?

As I ate my hamburger plugged with bacon and red peppers, and dipped my crab sticks into melted butter, I suddenly noticed three dark spots on the front of my clean off-white sweatshirt. My wife noticed them as well and reminded me of how hard she had worked to get it clean. I agreed that I would clean it this time.

After I was done eating, and cleaning up the kitchen, I remembered that in the past I have used Dawn dishwashing soap to remove other stains in my clothes. So I put a few drops on each stain and let it sit while I washed the dishes. A quick spray with the kitchen faucet rinsed the butter and bacon grease right out, and the sweatshirt was perfect again. There was no evidence of a previous stain. I now know the reason why the dishwashing soap is named Dawn. Darkness is gone when dawn arrives.

The prophet Malachi declares that the Lord is coming and when He does He will be like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. Focus on the soap for a moment. The word fuller’s may be confusing. The basic Hebrew word means washing. The people of these ancient cultures washed their clothes by hand, and then laid them out to dry in the fields. That’s where the phrase fuller’s field came from. So the soap that was used for the washing was called fuller’s soap. When someone takes soap and washes something, the expectation is that it will become clean.

That same expectation applies to our spiritual lives. When Jesus Christ comes to wash us with the soap made from His blood, we must expect to be made clean. There is not enough man-made soap in the world to clean the stain of sin from our lives. We have tried. The Lord declared it through the prophet Jeremiah when He said, Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. (Jeremiah 2:22)

But the Fuller’s Soap – which in this analogy is respectfully named Dawn – washes the stain of sin away, never to be seen again. The blood of Jesus Christ, the eternal soap for the soul, removes the evidence that the stain was ever there. When Dawn arrives, darkness leaves.

We have a choice: live with the stain, or let Jesus remove the stain. But if we choose to let Jesus wash us and remove the stain of our sin, we still have another choice. We can choose to remember that the stain was there and live in fear that we will get stained again, or we can choose to trust the Fuller’s Soap to keep us clean.

As for me, I choose to live by faith in the constant cleansing of the Fuller’s Soap. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) I do not mean to say that I will carelessly live making a mockery of God’s grace, but that because of my love for Him I will walk in His light, knowing that when I do stain my life with the spill of sin, He never runs out of soap.

In other words, I will keep wearing the sweatshirt, not with the intention of spilling, but knowing that if I do, the stain can be removed. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

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