“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:16-18
Wash yourself! Yeah, right! We usually dismiss commands like this because we think they are part of the old law, a call that cannot be fulfilled. The law was given to show us our inability, right? So this is just part of that. We can’t make ourselves clean. But what about this:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
There’s no way to explain this as directed to someone who is not a believer. This is written to those who have the “promises.” The promises come from belonging to the Lord. The key is to stop reading Scripture through the perspective of the law and start reading it under grace.
So, what if Isaiah is describing life under grace as promised by the Lord to those who will trust in Him? What if this is not a call to stop sinning, but to live in the fresh new life God has given you? What if, in Christ, your sins are washed away already and you stand before God as white as snow or wool? Would that make a difference?
Of course it would! You see, the call for us to cleanse ourselves has no meaning if it is to wash ourselves from our own iniquities. We cannot and He never said we could. But if this is a call for us to live as cleansed people, the whole thing is different.
If you are no longer what you were, then you are free to be something else. Think about that. When Jesus washed your sins away, you were washed clean. Now live as one who is clean. You don’t have to think of yourself as that “dirty, rotten, old sinner” ever again. You don’t have to see yourself as a failure or a wretch. You are a child of the living God, washed clean forever in the blood of Jesus Christ. Your sins are gone “as far as the east is from the west.”
Yes, you were a sinner but that has changed, right?
And such were some of you.
But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11
Things have changed. Live in the change!