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Whiter Than Snow

Isaiah 1:16–18:

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

“Come now, 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 become like wool.

This is such an interesting contrast Isaiah uses because of the materials involved. Once blood stains something, can be incredibly difficult to get back out. During Isaiah’s life, it might have been practically impossible to clean. Likewise, snow falls the purest of whites, but it’s impossible to return snow to that pristine state once stained. Think of slush on the side of a rode. That snow will never be white again.

Isaiah basically says that God cleans us from impossible stains to make us impossibly clean. But with God, we know that the impossible is always possible. Our sins make us unclean, but no stain of sin is so permanent that our Savior cannot cleanse us.

David expresses a similar idea in Psalm 51:7–10:

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice.

Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

See also 1 Peter 2:19–21:

In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few — that is, eight people — were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our Savior cleanses us through baptism today. He invites us to come to Him, be cleansed of our sins, and be made whiter than snow in our Father’s eyes. We have a Father who wants us to be with Him, remove our impurities, and make us impossibly clean of our transgressions. We just have to come to Him in faith and humility.

May we be a people who learns to do good, seeks justice, corrects oppression, and loves justice. May we repent of the sins that stain us so thoroughly and allow our Savior to make us whiter than snow.

Rio de Janeiro Christ the Redeemer Statue surrounded by clouds

In Christ Alone

The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16 – 20

This should be the basis of every Christian’s faith, conduct, and attitudes — that Jesus Christ has all authority in our lives. This is our foundation and our goal. We should build on Christ alone, and we should be striving to live like Christ alone. Everything we say, do, study, or meditate on should go through the filter of Christ; is it drawing me closer to Him, or is it pushing Him aside?

When we put Christ foremost in our faith, all other labels fall away. Too often we become like the Christians of 1 Corinthians 1, allowing worldly loyalties and causes to come between us and Christ, us and one another. This should never be. We are not the Christian Right; we are not the Christian Left. We are not defined by political allegiances, ecumenical creeds, secular identities, or celebrity preachers. We are Christ’s alone, and we cannot supplant Him with any other influences or alliances.

Christ Through His Apostles

So what does this mean for the words of the apostles? Do we reject the writings of Peter, Paul, and His other disciples because they are not the actual words of Christ? John 16:5 – 15 records Jesus promising His apostles the Spirit of truth who would guide them in truth, declare what is to come, and glorify Christ. I believe this is what Paul is talking about in Galatians 1:11 – 12 when he says:

Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not based on human thought. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ.

That revelation comes through the Spirit that Christ promised His apostles. Paul and the other apostolic authors wrote by the authority of Christ; they give us all truth as promised through that Spirit. Believing the words of the apostles is believing the words of Christ. They are inseparable. Accepting the words of the apostles is accepting Christ; rejecting them rejects Christ.

Christ Through Other Christians

What about others like Max Lucado, Franklin Graham, or even Martin Luther? John has this to say about how we should view the words of others, and I include myself in this:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

1 John 4:1 – 6

When someone else proclaims to speak for Christ, do their words and conduct line up with what we see in Jesus Christ? If they harmonize with Christ and His apostles, then they are worth listening to. If they contradict Christ in any way, then they are not of Him. Paul has a sterner warning in Galatians 1:8 – 9, going so far as to say that any angel from Heaven that contradicts Christ should be rejected.

And I expect you to hold me to that same standard. My goal here is to write about things that will help Christians get closer to Christ and non-Christians discover Christ. If my foundation is in anything but Christ alone, then my words are empty.

Putting Your Faith In Christ Alone

All of this requires study and self-examination. James 1:22 – 25 compares studying Christ’s law to looking into a mirror. We should be able to see ourselves in the words of Christ and His apostles. We should be able to see where we are growing, where we struggle, what we accept, and what we reject. Putting our faith in Christ alone requires that we look into that mirror with self-honesty and then change accordingly. We should always be changing to be more like Him, to do what He wants of us, to share Him with others. Being in Christ alone means we sacrifice self to submit entirely to Him, and we expel anything from our lives that make us put our hope and faith elsewhere.

My faith is in Christ alone. He is my light, my strength, my song. Won’t you let Him be the same for you?

Photo by Robert Nyman on Unsplash

“In Christ Alone,” song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend