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Day 13 | Hoping for a clean sheet

Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice. 
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

'Come now, let us settle the matter,' says the Lord.
'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'

ISAIAH 1:16–18



One of the most vivid depictions of guilt is Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth frantically trying to cleanse her hands of blood after murdering Duncan, King of Scotland: 'Out damned spot! Out, I say! [...] Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand' (Macbeth, act 5, scene 1).

Even if our consciences aren't hurting so badly that they cause hallucinations, our sins are still 'like scarlet.' And we cannot wash ourselves clean, as God well knew. Evil is not just a matter of what we do wrong, in case you were tempted to self-righteousness because you've not killed anyone or robbed a bank lately. Evil is about what we don't do right: the difficult neighbor we know would love to join us for Christmas lunch but never gets invited, the laziness that creeps in at work, the lack of patience with our friends or family, the poor self-control over what we view online.

Every human falls short. But Jesus "settled the matter," turning our sins from scarlet to white – the purest, cleanest, most flawless white. As Isaiah's listeners hoped for forgiveness, so do we. The difference is that we know how God made everything right.


Holy God, I'm sorry for the big and small ways I mess up every single day. Thank you that although you know everything, you forgive me. You make me acceptable in your sight through Jesus, and you love me.

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