James 4:7-10 (NLT) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
My sweet sister is an esthetician. She is a skincare specialist. During her visit to care for mom during her open heart surgery, there were endless hours of conversation in the waiting room during our more than 24 hours stay the first night. Please disregard any and all Dubsmash videos that may or may not have been posted – it was a very long night. My sister’s skin is perfection. Given her profession, she has a routine of care that has made her completion nearly flawless. She promised to send a box of products for our teenage girls who battle the usual adolescent skin issues. The box arrived yesterday as promised. Late last night my phone received a series of text messages with instructions for all of us regarding the products that she sent. As I read through them this morning, I found that none of the bottles contain any medicine but rather it is all about the proper cleaning. This is definitely intriguing to me.
Wash, rinse and repeat with a once-a-week special treatment. Anyone who knows me knows this is bound to strike a connection with my spirit and surely it did. Sometimes I think we over complicate the process of spiritual freedom by making about more than it really is. I am set free by the Grace of God offered freely through Jesus Christ. The products my sister sent to us are expensive. Probably a higher price than I would pay since I balk at the skin products at Walmart. She must be so ashamed. However, do I also take for granted the simple process of repentance, renewal and restoration offered to me day by day by my Lord? It begins with humility. At first, I asked her not to send at her expense. She insisted. I offered to pay her for the items which she generously declined. Jesus offers to cleanse my heart and mind each day. The gift already given yet I leave it in a box on the counter of my soul much like the box of products not yet applied. He wants to renew me each day so that I may be restored and find joy in my salvation yet I choose to remain guilty, dirty, stained, and full of regret somehow. Am I the only one? Do I carry a burden of sin that could be so freely given in exchange for more freedom than I have ever known? Do I have stains covering a radiant countenance of righteousness freely given but not used for anything in each day? It is time to learn a new soulful routine. It is simple – wash, rinse, renew and restore. I need to do this each and every day to make my soul secure and my Light shine to a world looking for love in all the wrong places. I have it. It is at my disposal. I just need to use it.
Humble yourselves before God. This thing called “humility” is a lifelong endeavor that is produced through our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is promoted with each encounter and experience offered in the Presence of God. You cannot enter His Presence and remain the same. He changes us day by day. He frees us from sin, guilt, shame and regret to renew and restore the life that God planned for us to have not the one poor choices delivered. You cannot resist the devil covered in sin. You cannot tell him to flee or make any other authoritative directive to the enemy without the Power of God at work inside of you. The Power of God that gives us strength is His Grace. It cannot be usurped in our own strength and power but humbly accepted as it cannot be earned in any way. To come close to God and live in His Presence begins with repentance. Repentance is a continual process of exchanging sin for salvation each day. This process cannot change for if it does our loyalty is divided between God and this world. No such division will withstand the process called judgment.
Psalm 51:1-4 (NLT) Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
I recently posted the lyrics to the song “Brokenness Aside”. It begins “I am a sinner if its not one thing its another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies.” It’s funny because I could feel the buzz of people wondering what I had “done” or how far I had “fallen”. The truth is that I am a sinner every single day. I am almost willing to bet that you are, too. I am aware of it and try to continually repent as not to become weighted down with transgressions. His Mercy is because of His Unfailing Love so no matter what I do I can come to the Lord and request cleansing. The Lord does it. Right there. On the spot. Whatever I submit to repentance, Jesus washes away as far as the east from the west. However, just as if I were to put a toy sailboat in the current of a river holding it tightly it will not float away – my sin cannot go away from me if I do not let it go.
We hold sin in our life two ways. First, we do not repent. Continuing to engage in it, calling it weakness, attempting to cover it up in grace, there is no freedom from it as it plagues us night and day. The second way to hold on to sin is regret. The same God that removes our sin renews our life in the process if allowed to. God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force us to accept anything that He has to offer.
With three daughters, the skin issue has come up many times. All three girls have a different skin type which requires a variety of skin regimes. However, there is one thing that works for all three. I have instructed them to wash their faces in the morning and evening. After school, they should remove makeup and rinse the impurities picked up that day. They have all balked at me until they tried it and found that their skin cleared up. Women use makeup to cover imperfections. However, that is not what we need as believers. Don’t cover up sin. Let it go. Let the Lord remove it and send it away as far as the east is from the west. It doesn’t matter what other people think if you choose to crawl to the altar in every service. So what? You didn’t sin against them. It is God alone we live to please and Jesus who died for us and now we live for.
Psalm 51:7-9 (NLT) Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
Purify me from my sins and I will be clean. Salvation is a process. It is not just one prayer one time at an altar but daily acceptance of Jesus Christ, His Word, His Will and His Way. We must work on it. Daily surrendering ourselves to Jesus. But unfortunately here is what happens. We wear one face for the world and another when alone at home and no one is watching. There are times when like the Pharisees, it is easy to become enthralled with what we can “do” for the Lord rather than allowing Him to do what He would like to “do” in me. Pride takes over holding on to sin rather than relinquishing it to the Cross. Repentance admits weakness. Our flesh isn’t comfortable with such a thing.
There is no true joy outside of salvation but to fully accept the terms and conditions of the New Covenant means to lay one’s life down at the Cross each day. In John 13, Jesus was preparing to wash the feet of His Disciples. He knew the end was near. The Lord also knew that He had been given full power and authority by God His Father. Symbolically, he removed his robe and knelt to wash their feet. When Jesus made his way to Peter, you have to know he would raise a ruckus. He did true to form saying, “you will never wash my feet.” Jesus said, “Unless I wash your feet, you do not belong to me.” There is no personal pride or accomplishment in our salvation. Jesus did it all. He paid for our life in full. There is nothing else for me to do other than accept it. When I try to maintain my pride and take hold of His Grace, I find this to be impossible.
Of course, during this discourse, Peter the extremist tells the Lord well if you are going to wash me – wash me from head to foot. Salvation cleanses us from head to toe. We work to maintain it by daily cleansing called repentance and humility. Those who do will be renewed day by day. Life will rise up in the places left void of sin as God does a new thing in each surrendered space of our heart and mind yielded to Him. His Word sheds light on the dark places. He speaks softly to us to come closer and let Him get that smudge off our face and stain out of our clothing. God is meticulous in His Care for us and will wash us as many times as it takes until each area is fully surrendered to His Unfailing Love and Amazing Grace. You will never not be a sinner. Full redemption comes when we meet Him face-to-face. Be washed in His Presence daily. Cleansed by His Word.
Psalm 51:12-15 (NLT) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
My daughter was frustrated about her complexion one day. I asked her if she was washing her face regularly. She promised she had. I asked her if she had taken the prescribed medication. She again promised that she had. Now I am the “drug dealer” in our home who orders and usually picks up pharmaceutical orders for the crew. I know that I had not refilled her antibiotic in quite some time so I inquired further. How long have you been doing this? She admitted a couple of days. Well, of course. The Word of God tells us that He will restore us. Come on God. However, there is a second part that we are not so excited about…”make me willing to obey you.” Oh that part…
We must allow God time to restore us and commit our lives to the process called restoration. This means waiting, patience, persistence, faithfulness and commitment. We must continue to do what we know to do even when we cannot see the results. This my friend is faith. If I believe, the Lord is working to restore me and renew me I must remain faithful to the process which is what we call endurance. But God is even more faithful and does not make us wait or work out our salvation alone…
Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.
I love it when God “buts” in don’t you. God our Savior is full of kindness and love. He is mercy full! He washed away our sin. Gave us a new birth so we could live a new life. Jesus gave us a partner, advocate, guide, protector, defender, teacher, instructor… I could go on and on. The Lord gave us His Spirit. His Grace made us right in His Sight. We can have full confidence that every dead dream can come back to life. Old things will become new things. Dead ends are of no use because the Waymaker lives in us. Nothing wasted. We have nothing to lose but everything to gain as Jesus makes good of every detail of our life. We just have to remain in right standing. He did that, too. But God.
Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Repetition can become religion without true repentance and daily surrender of our life to Christ in all humility. We can become indignant like Peter to our own detriment. Lord, I am going to serve You. Not the other way around… Pride can sound so holy. It can make its point about being right but righteousness is only found when we surrender and submit our life to Jesus Christ – humbly accepting His Gift of Life day after day. We cannot sacrifice anything of worth. We cannot do anything to earn this wonderful gift that we are given. All we can do is wash, rinse and repeat day after day until He comes.
John 9 tells the story of a man who was blind from birth. Jesus takes some dirt off the ground, spits in it, smears it on his eyes, and then tells him to go wash it off. He does. The man is instantly healed. Yay God right! No not so fast. This begins a series of interrogations of the man, his family and bystanders who witnessed it. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. Well, as you can well imagine this drew the attention of the Pharisees who were already sick and tired of this man named Jesus messing everything up. Surely the Messiah would obey the rules and regulations of religion.
Reading this story again, I have come to the conclusion that maybe there is purpose in the mud covering the man’s eyes. I wonder if our natural and spiritual condition is easier to heal then the “muddy messes” of this life. We overcomplicate the process making salvation way too hard. When asked about his healing for the umpteenth time, the man said, “I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” Have we overcomplicated the process stopping the next great move of God? Could it be so simple? Maybe it is as easy as “then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) These are God’s Words to Solomon after he completed the temple. Our temple is complete in Jesus Christ maybe these are the words resonating from Heaven today. If my people…
I John 1:8-10 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
I am a sinner. I sin every day. If I told you or implied differently not only am I a liar, but I am calling God a liar. If I choose to coat my life with good works, good deeds, good words, and the like it is not the truth or the Gospel. It is not my job to set the standard of life and love for the rest of the world. God set the standard and it is glorious. It says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He then gave us this wonderful benefit package to open and enjoy as we continue to journey to forever through this life. I must engage in the process which begins with humbling my life at His Feet every single day and accepting the Grace that is given. New mercy meets me each morning. Will I scoop it up and use it throughout the day? Or will the mud of pride, doubt, fear and anxiety cause me to lose my way? God wants to do a mighty work in us. We are His Temple. He wants to fill us with more of His Presence day by day. Repentance gives way to restoration which makes way for renewal which is how we live in true freedom day by day. Our life is raised to His Glorious Standard each day we say, “Forgive me, Lord. Your Grace is enough for me.” Sin is a burden. It renders us powerless to fight the enemy. It keeps us in bondage. Jesus says, “Come to me all who are burdened.” It is an open invitation to wash, rinse and repeat every day! I speak freedom over your life today in Jesus Name!
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”