Hopelessly Scrubbing at Sin
Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.
Researchers tell us around two thirds of all people say that beauty is primarily about non-physical attributes, yet 40% would change their looks if they could. I read once about local college students who hung a mirror on campus to test who would look in a mirror more often — men or women. I could have given them the answer and saved a whole lot of time and trouble (I have four daughters) — but I would have been wrong. It seems men and women are pretty evenly split in their concern over personal physical appearances.
When we look into a mirror it reveals our imperfections: our wrinkles, receding hairlines (for some), and blemishes. But it has no power to fix those flaws. In our passage today, Paul tells us humanity was sailing along in blissful ignorance until God gave us a mirror — the Law and we died. Man thought he was beautiful until we gazed upon God’s perfect standard. Then we saw ourselves for who and what we truly are — our ugly, despicable, and sin-filled natures. The Law didn’t do anything more than reflect our image — contrasting it with God’s perfection.
I once knew a young woman who would spend hours each day in front of a high-powered mirror, searching out imperfections and blemishes. She would then scrub her face relentlessly, hoping to somehow achieve the perfect complexion. Unfortunately the process led to infection, scabbing, and ultimately scarring. Her effort which was intended to make a pretty face more beautiful, resulted in disfigurement. It is a tragic story, but it’s also mankind’s story. How so? Because there are three choices we have when dealing with our own imperfections: First, we can ignore and pretend they don’t exist — avoid mirrors at all costs while continuing to lie to ourselves about our own beauty; or second, (like the young woman) we can spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, hopelessly trying to remove our own sin and imperfections; or the third and best choice, we can rest on the work Jesus Christ has already done for us. When Jesus died, our sin died with Him. And with His resurrection, we are re-born in Him, perfected with His sacrifice by God’s grace. We no longer need to run from mirrors or scrub for hours. If we place our trust in Jesus who paid our debt, we become perfected in God’s sight.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? What does your spouse see? What do you think God sees? Does He see His Son Jesus? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or are you still hiding and scrubbing away?