Thursday, November 17

HazMat Salvation

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. --Isaiah 64:6

For one of my projects at work I have been scouring any available government databases that may contain details about hazardous waste sites or releases of toxic substances in a particular area. I liken myself in a small way to Erin Brockavich whenever I'm working on something like this --except I dress more modestly. After a week of searching for documentation or records of some type, I am forced to make two assumptions. Either 1) No hazardous materials were ever released into the area; or, 2) hazardous materials were in fact released, but they went unreported. Which do you think is more likely?

In some ways sin is a lot like hazardous waste. Just as it is impossible to store and dispose of hazardous waste 100% efficiently and safely each time, it is equally impossible for us to keep the effects of our sinful actions under wraps for an infinite amount of time. In one way or another, every sin, whether or not we think it is insignificant, affects us. Sometimes we can go for years without suffering the consequences of sin. However, when our lives here on earth are over, we will have to answer for every indiscretion, every selfish action--every sin.

If God were to keep a record of my sins in a database, the sheer volume of the entries would be enough to grant me a one-way ticket to hell. If all my wrongdoings of the last 25 years (not to mention my remaining life) were itemized in a spreadsheet, I would be ashamed and embarrassed by how many times the same behaviors were repeated. This is enough to make me consider myself a hopeless case. If God had something akin to a National Priorities List (the EPA's list of extremely polluted sites) for sinners, each of us would be on it. No one would be spared.

Aside from the salvation we have through grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone, none of us stands a chance of having our sins blotted out of existence. Fortunately, the work that Jesus did for us on the cross had a greater impact on our souls than all of the best environmental cleanup efforts could do for toxic waste dumps. Because Christ took our sins upon himself, a database of my sins now has an entry that states "Remediation complete. No further action required."

When God looks at my heart, He no longer sees a leaking, stinking, hazardous waste dump. I have put on the righteousness of Christ in place of my own sinful nature. I am no longer condemned to an eternity apart from God.

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