Sliding in a Winter Wonderland

I’m sure every Christian blog in the South is mentioning something about snow this morning, and something about Isaiah, and something about forgiveness. I must admit that, though I am an avid snow-hater, my heart was refreshed as I drove to work in a white world, reminded of God’s forgiveness of “such a worm as I.” But there’s more to this thought. There’s more to the picture than our sins being white as snow. First, let’s look at the passages. Two come to mind in reference to this topic.

First, Isaiah 1:18, God’s promise to Israel: “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.” What abundant mercy and grace promised to those repent and act out of obedience. Obedience is closely tied to this promise, as God says in the next two verses, “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” God will not bless the rebellious and disobedient, but He promises abundant mercy to the repentant. This is certainly reasonable, in light of Habakkuk 1:13 – “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness.” He cannot wink at sin. Therefore obedience finds forgiveness and mercy, while rebellion finds punishment and discipline.

The second passage is in Psalm 51. This passage is David’s repentance after living in rebellion for some 9 months during his sin with Bathsheba. Verse 7 says, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Notice, this is a redeemed man speaking, one who prior to this, was called a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:4, cf. Acts 13:22). He certainly knew the salvation of the Lord, yet here he recognizes his impurity and his need for cleansing. He needed the forgiveness of God to purify him, even in his justified state, to make him “whiter than snow.” Was he here no longer saved? Was the Lamb of God no longer providing atonement for his sin? Salvation always was and is a finished act based on God’s grace to man, and not man’s work in earning it (Eph. 2:8-9). However, it is clear from this passage that David’s relationship with God was tarnished, and he needed cleansing. This cleansing was not salvific in nature, for he was already justified. However, having fallen into sin, he was no longer pure. It wasn’t that he was no longer a child, but he was a rebellious child who, upon his repentance, needed restoration.

This is where the winter analogy continues. As I drove to work this morning, admiring the beauty of the snow, I began to slip. I slowed to make my turn, turned my steering wheel…and continued to slide straight. I had to pull a u-ey to get back to my turn (very, very slowly, this time), and get to work. The amazing thing about this was that I didn’t even notice the point where I ceased to be in control, and where the ice took over. It happened so subtly as I drove. One minute I was perfectly in control, and then I was sliding quite out of control, praying I wouldn’t hit the oncoming car. This caused me to think. Sunday afternoon we heard a great message on perseverance in the Christian life. It was observed that we can so easily get off course, still doing the things we are “supposed” to do, but do them for the wrong reasons, the wrong motivation. To fit my analogy, it is so easy to just start sliding. Our sliding can begin so subtly that we don’t even notice it. Sin is so deceitful (Heb. 3:13), and our hearts so wicked (Jer. 17:9). Careful observation must be given every day to faithful walking, lest we subtly begin to slide into sin, deceiving ourselves the whole time that we are doing just fine. It’s fine to enjoy the beauty and cleanness of the snow, but in doing so, guard yourself from the subtle ice which will cause you to wreck.

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