I went to the cleaners recently and the clerk promptly told me that they were able to get the ketchup stain I wasted on my white sweater (with gray stripes) out. I was very grateful of course because I have become very fond of this sweater. I then proceeded to say that I hoped I could keep it as it was, to which she replied – “it’s white, so you won’t.” I also happened to be dropping off a pair of pants I had just picked up from there only days earlier. They had been cleaned better than they’d ever been when I picked them up. And the first day I wore them low and behold I was sitting at my desk eating Subway when out of my oven roasted chicken footlong came the sweet onion sauce that I love so much – right on to my newly cleaned pants. How frustrating. I shared this little experience with the clerk and she reminded me that’s what they (the cleaners) are there for. She aptly sought to put me at ease saying – “don’t worry, it’ll happen again.” How right she was. And how sobering. No matter how many times I came to the cleaners. No matter how hard I tried to work at not letting my clothes get stained again, the stark reality was that in all likelihood they would again be stained. They would again need cleaning. Just as sure as the sky is blue, it would happen again.
As I drove away, this caused me to think about how the Christian experience is much like this. Despite our best efforts in life, we often find ourselves falling into sin. And to add to it, we then wrestle with the sorrow we feel over our failure when we slip again into sin. Though this is a reality (a grievous one, but a reality nonetheless) of the Christian’s experience, we should take heart. We do have hope. And that hope lies in the fact that we have a “Master Cleaner” that is ready and willing to clean all the stains of our messes and present us as good as new every time we confess our sins and seek His forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
Now make no mistake. Once we accept Christ and the glorious salvation He offers, we immediately become forgiven for ALL of our sins. And we are then supposed to go from that moment seeking to sin no more (Rom. 6:1-2, John 8:11). Yet thankfully, we are given a promise that as believers, if we do happen to sin, that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1) And what good news that is! So, as a believer will we continue to sin? Um, Yes. Unfortunately. We still live in a body of unredeemed flesh and have not yet reached the promised glorification we know awaits us. So while we are still here on earth, we will sin. It will happen. The prayer is, however, that we will do so less and less as we continue to become conformed into the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29), and continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, burning off the dross and replacing it with the fruit of the Spirit. But even with this, it will not be until Christ returns or calls us home that we will be totally free from sin. So as long as we are in this body of flesh we will continue to fall. We will continue to stumble. It will happen again. But thanks be to God we don’t have to worry about striving to clean ourselves up. Christ has. And Christ will. And He will continue to plead our case before our Father in Heaven until that great day when He brings us on into the kingdom and we are finally saved to sin no more.
And there, dear brothers and sisters, it WON”T happen again.