Spots of spilled food or splashed mud and wrinkled clothes can usually be repaired, thankfully, but other spots are more of a problem.
In regular exchanges between Father Tim and his wife, Cynthia, in Jan Karon’s Mitford books, she joyously exclaims that she loves something, then he will ask, “What don’t you love?” She usually replies with three items, one of which is often “age spots.”
I share her dislike and dismay over those pesky blotches. They’re popping up all too frequently, and there doesn’t seem to be much one can do about them.
Another dismaying sign of aging is wrinkles. Hopefully most of one’s wrinkles will mark laugh lines rather than frown creases, but neither is really a welcome sight. I have dry skin, which was responsible for my not having many pimples in my teens, for which I was glad. But I didn’t learn until later that same dry skin would betray me by wrinkling earlier than my oilier counterparts. In the hormonal changes of middle age, I once experienced the ultimate injustice of a big fat pimple right in the middle of a wrinkled forehead. It didn’t seem like those two should go together!
Spots and wrinkles in one’s character, though, are worse than the biggest age spot and the most wrinkle-prone linen and harder to deal with. Too often my good deeds are splotched with wrong motives. Fissures of selfishness seem to grow deeper and longer every day. My efforts to clean up those spots or iron out those wrinkles only seem to add more.
In the 1720s, Benjamin Franklin “conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into.” He made a chart listing thirteen virtues, and placed a dot beside each one he violated every day, with the goal that eventually he’d be able to live with a completely clean chart. But it was never spotless. He had to admit that “I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
Even though we might become “better and happier” by trying to develop virtue, we can never become perfect, and perfection is what is required to be right with God and to get into heaven. Revelation 21:27 says of heaven, “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (ESV). Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Even if we could be completely perfect and sin-free from this moment forward, we have all the sins of our past still spotting our souls.
It would be hopeless except that “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Only Jesus is free of spots or wrinkles of wrong thinking and wrongdoing.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Only Jesus can cleanse us and remove the wrinkles in the depths of our souls:
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Revelation 1:5)
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:5-9)
I don’t know whether our bodies in heaven with retain the spots and wrinkles they had on earth, but I am sure we won’t care then. However, I am intensely, eternally thankful that when we believe on Jesus Christ as our own Lord and Savior, our souls are thoroughly cleansed now and through all eternity from any hint of a blemish or wrinkle.
Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (2 Peter 3:14b).
I lay my sins on Jesus,
The spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us
From the accursed load.
I bring my guilt to Jesus,
To wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious,
Till not a spot remains.
I lay my wants on Jesus:
All fullness dwells in Him;
He heals all my diseases,
He doth my soul redeem.
I lay my griefs on Jesus,
My burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases;
He all my sorrows shares.
I rest my soul on Jesus,
This weary soul of mine;
His right hand me embraces,
I on His breast recline.
I love the Name of Jesus,
Emmanuel, Christ, the Lord;
Like fragrance on the breezes
His Name abroad is poured.
I long to be like Jesus,
Meek, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus,
The Father’s holy Child;
I long to be with Jesus,
Amid the heavenly throng;
To sing with saints His praises,
To learn the angels’ song.
~ Horatius Bonar
Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
~ Charlotte Elliott
Sharing at Thought-Provoking Thursday.