Wednesday, August 08, 2012


“Even if you wash with lye and use a great amount of soap, the stain of your sin is still in front of Me. [This is] the Lord God's declaration.” (Jeremiah 2:22 HCSB)

There has never been a generation on earth that is as washed and perfumed as ours. More people have access to soap for the skin and cologne for the body, along with cosmetics to enhance our appearance. We have bottles of germicide to sanitize our hands, detergents to wash our clothes, sprays to cover up smells, spot-removers to get out the stains.

You can buy soap in a bottle, soap in a bar, even soap on a rope. You may purchase body sprays, powders, perfumes, after shaves, colognes, lotions, and deodorants.

Entire stores are devoted to the sale of such products:

Bed, Bath and Beyond
Bath and Body Works.

Most department stores will feature numerous lines of perfumes and colognes to be splashed or sprayed on the body. A sales clerk or two will be devoted to help take your money—sometimes quite a lot of it—for just the right fragrance. Samples are available to try out. Some are flowery, some are fruity, some are girly and others manly. Some, I wouldn’t put on my dog.

Of course, there is a cosmetic counter near by as well. You can paint up your face, wipe on a tan, hide a zit, mask a blemish, and smooth out a wrinkle. Every hue of lipstick and shade of eye shadow is available—a veritable cornucopia of cosmetics.

Television commercials tantalize us, glossy ads with scratch and sniff patches beckon us, as millions of dollars are spent in advertising to draw us to just the right scent.

You can walk into a room and know certain people have been there. They have a preferred fragrance they always wear, that announces their presence.

Then there are sprays for the mouth, breath mints, flavored toothpastes and gargles, gum that neutralizes bad breath and such. There seems an endless array of such products.

In the United States, there is no excuse for body odor, halitosis and looking like a barn in need of a coat of paint. The products to remedy that are readily available. Most take advantage of them.
Our skin is sanitized, but our soul is soiled. The smell of our body is fragrant, but the stench of our behavior is foul. Cosmetics mask the flaws on our face, but corruption blemishes our heart.

We are dirty, rotten sinners.

The filth that comes out of our mouths—we blaspheme the name of God. Physically attractive women can utter ugly expletives that would make a sailor blush. Crude and lewd, lurid and graphic—nothing is left to the imagination as you listen to people talk.

The zeal with which we pursue pornography and perversion harkens back to the Canaanite culture so sickening as to be said that the land “vomited them out.” Sodom, once obliterated in judgment for their sexual sin, has been rebuilt. America has exported its moral sewage to the world. The internet can be a pipeline to deliver pollution cheaply and quickly into the privacy of your house. You can have use a webcam to gaze at live nakedness that used to require slinking into a seedy strip club.

Pull into a parking lot at your local Middle School to pick up your son or daughter. Look and listen. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Not anymore—it is displayed in the school yard. Guys ogle the girls emulating the slutty, smutty fashion of movie and music idols. Nothing seems off limits.

It is so bad, that it doesn’t even shock us anymore.

We are so foolish and filthy, just like those of Jeremiah’s era.

“"For My people are fools; they do not know Me. They are foolish children,
without understanding. They are skilled in doing what is evil, but they do not know how to do what is good." (4:22)

We have soap in abundance, perfumes a plenty and cosmetics galore. But, soap can’t wash where we are dirty. Perfume can’t alter the fact that we are rotten. Adorning our appearance can’t change the hideousness of wickedness. Soap can cleanse our skin, but not our sin.

Church folk aren’t immune. Many have been assimilated into the contaminated culture. Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we have gradually had the heat turned up by this carnal world system and we have sat there and stewed.

God was addressing His people when He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah and announced, ““Even if you wash with lye and use a great amount of soap, the stain of your sin is still in front of Me. [This is] the Lord God's declaration.” (Jer.2:22)

The problem isn’t external. The scanty clothing, smutty language, seductive behavior and such are symptoms, not the sickness. You could put someone in a modest outfit, fill their vocabulary with religious terminology and teach them to be prim and proper, but all that does is mask the stench. We can cover up the blemishes with the cosmetics of civility, but the spots are still under there. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart—the defilement of a depraved mind and deviant desire.

“And you, devastated one, what are you doing that you dress yourself in scarlet,
that you adorn yourself with gold jewelry, that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
You beautify yourself for nothing. Your lovers reject you; they want to take your life.” (4:30)

That’s what the world does. It comes to the point where Botox injections, silicone implants, facelifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, hair color and all the rest lose their effectiveness and the aging “beauty” is exchanged for the fresh, new hottie.

Time takes its toll. The ravages of life degrade. The most attractive and perfumed will one day be destined for a casket—to rot and be devoured by worms. Open the crypt. Smell—the smell of decay, the stench of death.

What, then, is the answer?

“Wash the evil from your heart, Jerusalem, so that you will be delivered. How long will you harbor malicious thoughts within you?” (Jeremiah 4:14 HCSB)

Regeneration changes the heart. Repentance changes the mind. The Holy Spirit residing in us gives us potential to change, and His presence presiding over us gives us power for change.

The inhabitants of ancient Jerusalem were dirty, rotten sinners. We still are. But, we don’t need to stay that way. Consider this:

“Don't you know that the unjust will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or any kind of homosexual, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom.

And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 HCSB) This is the cleansing power of Christ!

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