“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:1-7,9-10,12,16-17
Over the years, my white towels, regularly washed and occasionally bleached, have lost their pure-whiteness, a fact I recognize best when I compare them to new ones. Only purity shows up sin’s slow creep.
It takes care to trace how sin, often through media and our culture, slithers into our lives, and gradually, insidiously, stains our way of thinking, warps our perception, and eventually weakens our determination to hold fast to truth. It pollutes our mindset, arouses feelings to trump reason, and turns God’s pure standards upside down and inside out. As it perverts our convictions, sin actually muddies the outlines of universal truth to loosen our belief in it altogether. When immersed in this grand distortion, do we even know what ‘pure’ looks like, and consequently, are we capable of desiring that with which we are not familiar? A horizontal mindset is a dangerous place to live if we are to be purified by our Lord, because it keeps us from the knowledge that there is something higher, better, holy.
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ~C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Where have I taken a slippery slope down in my attitude toward sin, my daily habits? Are there behaviors, conversations, entertainments I now condone that my Spirit once checked? What makes me settle for mud pies when I could be building sand castles, and what will I do about it? The Lord delights to meet a contrite heart with mercy.
Lord, cleanse the whole of my inner being, that my secret heart be clean and pure, my spirit right, for Thee.