Dirty Laundry

Our washer and dryer run most days of the week, but this is especially true on Monday. After a busy weekend and with a large family, Monday has become default laundry day. For most of the day the machines are humming and clacking in the background, and the kitchen table is covered with neat, little piles of clean clothes waiting to be shipped to dressers and closets.

On a recent Monday, my wife reminded me of something that my grandma used to say. My wife had just emerged from our children’s bedrooms with another armload of dirty laundry, having spent the last fifteen minutes hunting under beds and behind doors for dirty socks and grass-stained jeans. As she followed the well-worn path to the laundry room, she commented, “Your grandma used to say that laundry is like our sins: the moment you think that you’re caught up there’s another pile waiting.”

How true! A busy mother might appreciate the analogy more than others, but I think it’s something we can all understand, including our children.

There are three connections that I see:

  1. Like laundry, our works are often polluted and dirty. We have impure desires. We think filthy thoughts. We speak corrupt words. We perform sinful actions. Our sins are stained “as scarlet” and “red like crimson” (Is. 1:18). Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” Our “righteousnesses” refer to our prayers, offerings, and other acts of worship, but even these good works can be polluted like menstruous rags.
  2. Like laundry, our sins are many. We sin so often, in so many different ways. We have original sin, and we have actual sins. We have sins of youth, and we have sins that we committed today. We sin against God, and we sin against our neighbor. We have sins of commission, and we have sins of omission. We have secret sins, and we have public sins. We have sins that we commit occasionally, and we have besetting sins.
  3. Like laundry, the sins keep coming and coming. By the grace of God, we sorrow over our sins with a godly sorrow. We hate them with a vehement hatred. We repent of them. We crucify the old man. And yet the moment we convince ourselves that we have put away that sin, we see another sin come in its place. Or we see that same sin show itself in our lives. Or we uncover a sin that we have ignored and that has been hiding in a corner of our heart.

How horrible and disgusting is the reality of our sin! How humbling to see who we are apart from the grace of God!

But having our eyes opened wide to the repulsive reality of sin makes the grace of God shine forth all the more beautifully. Thankfully, our sin and misery is not the end of the story. We are not left buried under the avalanche of our “dirty laundry.” God has provided for His own the cleansing power of the blood of His Son.

On the basis of what Christ has done for us on the cross, we are justified. God declares to us that our sins are forgiven and our guilt is removed. He views them as “white as snow” and as “wool” (Is. 1:18) in the spotless righteousness of the spotless Lamb.

By the work of Christ in us by his Spirit, we are also sanctified. The Spirit works like a powerful “detergent” to cleanse us from the pollution of sin. By His work we see our sins more clearly, hate them more passionately, and fight against them more vehemently.

And the day will come soon when our “dirty laundry” is removed entirely, and we are clothed in white robes in heavenly glory. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands…These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9, 14).

What a day of rejoicing that will be! “And [they] cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10).

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

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