Dirty Laundry

Ever had a piece of clothing you were wearing get a stain on it that you couldn’t wash out? Doesn’t it usually happen with your favorite piece of clothing? It’s like, of all of the things you could be wearing, it had to happen to this particular outfit—right? I’ve worn clothes that are true stain-magnets, especially white or very light-colored ones. I usually can’t wear a light-colored shirt or shorts for more than one day, if that long, without getting some noticeable spot or stain on it. Even stain-resistant clothing wears out to the point that it becomes ‘stain attractant’ clothing! There seems to always be that one stain that never comes out regardless of the treatment used to remove it. I used to be one to try all kinds of stain removal methods: baking soda, dish soap, vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, shampoo, stain removal sticks and liquids, etc. Some worked sometimes, but most did not. As a result, a favorite item of clothing was usually downgraded to either sleep clothes, or more often, a rag.

Did you know that dirty rags are mentioned in the Bible? Look in chapter 64 in the book of Isaiah, verse 6, and you’ll see the following:

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

Notice that it says “our righteousnesses” [meaning trying to be righteous our own way] are as filthy rags. God is saying here that, no matter what method we use to try to make ourselves right or clean before Him, we will always be dirty or “filthy.” There is no way that we can make our self right enough to come before a holy God. We can read the Bible or any holy book from cover to cover. We can go to a church or some other religious institution numerous times a week. We can abstain from certain foods or even fast for extensive periods. We can pray a prescribed prayer, or chant words over and over again. We can make pilgrimages to distant lands and shrines.

We can volunteer or do some kind of humanitarian effort. We can give infinite amounts of money to charities, etc., all over the world. Yet none of these will make us more righteous before God; we will still be as “filthy rags.”

Why is this? Because we were tainted from the very beginning of our lives. We were born in sin. From the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden, up to the present time, we have been separated from God due to sin. There is nothing that we can do on our own that will erase the sin or filthiness from our lives and be able to come into God’s holy presence.

At this point the situation seems hopeless—and it is hopeless—unless God provides a solution. Thankfully, He did do just that, through His Son Jesus. Through the death of Jesus, and by His blood that was shed on the cross, we now have a way to be made clean. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 22, we read, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [taking away of sin].” Only the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross over 2000 years ago can cleanse us of our sins and make us right before God.

We must accept and believe in faith in what Jesus did for us at the cross, or we will remain as “filthy rags” forever.

Are you willing to let Jesus cleanse you of your sins (your wrongdoings against God)? God is holy and cannot accept you as His child unless you repent (turn away completely from your sins and go in the opposite direction) of that which is unholy, and let Him cleanse you of all of your unrighteousness through Jesus’ precious shed blood. Don’t keep trying on your own to make your “filthy rags” clean; there is no stain remover on this earth that can remove the filthiness in your heart. Give your heart to Jesus and let Him cleanse you once and for all.

–James Pangburn

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Jesus is Not a Washing Machine

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21

I recently visited a historical village near where I was living. It had a nice arrangement of a house, church, courthouse, schoolhouse, boat-building barn, blacksmith building, and a general store, as well as a handful of additional accessory buildings, all located on a 6-8 acre plot of land. In each building, care had been taken to try to include period furnishings where possible. In the house, there were many objects connected to each representative member of a family of that day. It is amazing to think that this house and its contents were all that were needed to live in that time. They didn’t need an elaborate kitchen with granite countertops, track lighting, and stainless-steel appliances. No climate-control systems that can be monitored and regulated by a phone on another continent were needed. In fact, in the time of this village, phones were almost nonexistent. Yet everyone managed to get along somehow, through lean times or plenty.

But there was one aspect open for innovation and improvement—the washday. It was an all-day event and nobody really enjoyed it. It was, without a doubt, hard work. This house had the classic wash-bin, washboard, and wringer. An iron kettle of water had to be heated over an open fire. Each article had to be scrubbed clean on a washboard. Then everything had to be run through the wringer (watch your fingers!), rinsed, and back it went through the wringer. Next, they hung everything on the line to dry. And finally, they had to iron most of the items with an iron weighing almost as much as half of a bundle of clothes itself! As a result, the advent of the washing machine was generally a welcome sight.

How does Jesus fit in with all of this?

When we accept Jesus into our hearts and He cleanses us of our sins through His blood shed on the Cross, we are not given a blank check to start a life of wrongdoing all over again.

His sacrifice at the Cross atoned (made complete payment) for all of the sins of mankind (past, present and future). When we accept Him into our hearts, we are baptized with Him in His death. Our old sin-destined self dies with Him in the tomb, and our new self is born in connection with His resurrection. Therefore, old sinful self is now dead. To begin again right where we were before Christ set us free essentially makes us a dead person walking. You can’t be completely dead and completely alive at the same time! We can’t go back and live in sin again, and then take all of our sin-soiled garments to the ‘Heavenly Laundromat,’ and throw them into the ‘Jesus washing machine’ expecting Him to make us spotless all over again. You might ask, “Doesn’t God forgive us each time we sin and make us clean and whole inside?” Yes, He does, when we ask Him to. But He also expects us to repent of these sins (all of our sins, actually). That means we are to turn and go in the opposite direction, and not regularly continue to do them.


Many stand firmly on the ground that Jesus completely fulfilled the Law of God set forth in the early part of the Bible, and we are now free of the requirement to obey it. Therefore, we can now do what we want to, essentially meaning we can freely sin, because His grace will carry us through. In fact, today the whole concept of sin is even considered to have been eliminated through His sacrifice on the Cross. Sadly, this is where we give the Devil his ‘wiggle’ room. When Jesus fulfilled the Law, He did not abolish it.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17).

His fulfillment of it made it possible for us to now fulfill the Law through Him. But it was (and is) impossible for us to fulfill the entire Law, which is what we would have to do in order to be right with God. Christ never eliminated the ability to sin or the penalty of our sin. This same group that stands firmly on fulfillment also believes that God’s grace enables us to freely sin, because His grace is always greater. Once again, the Devil uses this as leverage to keep us in bondage. God’s grace has to be greater than all of our sins, otherwise God would not be God, and the work Jesus did on the Cross would be nullified.

If even the tiniest fraction of sin could be greater than God’s grace, He would no longer be omnipotent (all-powerful) and holy. As a result, the Devil would win.

As the prince of this world, the Devil is definitely a tough taskmaster, but if he could be god of all, the horrible result would be totally unthinkable!

Our ultimate goal should be to stop thinking that Jesus Christ is our ticket to do whatever we want. We may think, “Hey, it’s okay. I might look dirty now, but I’ll just drop these dirty clothes in the ‘Jesus washing machine’ and everything will be all right!” Acting this way means that we don’t want to let go of our sins, that self is still in charge, not Jesus. We want all of the benefits of being in Christ’s care, and at the same time, all of the pleasures of being in the world, or in the Devil’s care.

The only way to have all of the benefits of being in Christ and to stay there is to place our faith totally in Jesus and the work He did on the Cross.

When we do that, our interests in the pleasures of this world will automatically begin to fade. What was ‘fun’ before will be appalling, and the things of God that seemed ‘boring’ before we’ll find enjoyable. When a couple gets married, they cannot then go their own separate ways as if they had never married, and expect their relationship to prosper. The same is applicable when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts. We must yield to Him in our relationship with Him if we want complete victory and happiness.