Episode 1. Deep Cleansing
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It seems that every other cosmetic commercial on television these days is offering some lotion or potion that achieves deep cleansing. Deep cleansing. Really? Don’t you love those makeup …
It seems that every other cosmetic commercial on television these days is offering some lotion or potion that achieves deep cleansing. Deep cleansing. Really?
Don’t you love those makeup advertisements: Anti–ageing. Wrinkle reducing. Look ten years younger in just ten days. Achieve deep cleansing of your skin.
They promise the world. And all you women out there – well, a good many of you – you want to fall for this stuff, because you do want to look younger and you do want to look your best. And it’s not just the lotions and potions they flog on television, right?
Many women spend huge sums of money on facials, exfoliation, masks, mud-masks even – all in the pursuit of what? Looking younger.
These cleansers and moisturisers they sell for a king’s ransom, most of them cost a few pennies to make, then there’s the massive cost of advertising and marketing, and let’s not forget huge profit margin on top.
Deep … cleansing. Right. I know I’m only a bloke, and I apologise for that, but on that basis, I know I really don’t get the whole beauty thing. For over half a century, a cake of soap and some hot water has pretty much given my skin all the deep cleansing that I’ve ever needed.
But, even I know that there’s something incredibly special about feeling clean. Back in my military days we would go out on training exercises where we fought simulated battles for 4, 5 even 6 weeks at a time. And in that month, month and a half, you were lucky to get a shower and a change of clothes once, maybe twice.
So by the time we’d come back to barracks at the end of the exercise you were seriously on the nose – I mean, absolutely filthy dirty. I remember we’d been rolling in the dirt, fighting a war, rubbing black and brown and green camouflage cream into our faces, necks and hands so we’d blend into the bush. We were filthy.
And to this day – what, 35 years on now – I remember that feeling of getting those reeking clothes off and getting into a hot shower and scrubbing all that muck, and camouflage cream off. Of course it didn’t all come off in the first shower, it was still embedded in the pores of your skin and under your fingernails for a week or two afterwards.
But that feeling of being really clean for the first time in weeks was utterly sensational. Whenever I hear that term “deep cleansing” that’s what comes to mind. That sensational feeling of being clean.
Okay – it’s one thing to be clean on the outside. Sure. Great feeling. But what about the inside. A lot of us – most of us – don’t feel clean on the inside. Why? Well – because there’s a lot of accumulated muck and grunge caking our emotions, our thoughts, our soul … our very being.
Maybe you think I’m overstating that a bit. The old-fashioned word for it is sin – but a lot of people don’t like that word too much these days. What about baggage. Emotional hang–ups. Hurts. Inadequacies. Doubts. Fears. Scars. Blind spots. Recognise any of those in your life??
And what about the consequences of the stupid things that you’ve done in your life, that you’re still doing in your life – ignoring your family, being selfish or touchy or being over bearing or controlling …
It’s a pretty long list. And the quickest, easiest way to sum it up, is to use that small, four-letter word (that’s what it is these days) – SIN.
Now depending on where each one of us is on the scale of maturity, we may either deny that we have any of that stuff going on in our lives, or we may be nodding – perhaps reluctantly – but nodding and recognising that this SIN thing is eating away at us on the inside. This muck is caked on thick and dirty like that camouflage cream – black and brown and green – used to be caked onto my skin.
And scrub as we will, somehow we can’t wash it off. It just won’t come off. Shakespeare had it right in Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1 when Lady Macbeth, sleepwalking, remembering the blood on her hands in conspiring to murder someone, looks down at her hands and exclaims:
Out damned spot, out I say! One, two, why then, ‘tis time to do it. Hell us murky … Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh …
In her mind, in her heart, in her dreams, she couldn’t get the blood off her hands; the guilt ate away at her … on the inside. And many, many people – whether they want to admit it or not – have that sense of guilt or perhaps shame or inadequacy eating away inside them.
It’s not something we like to talk about. We hide it deep within, behind the façade of respectability and confidence. Behind the faces we put on. Behind the bravado and the apparent happiness, and the nice home and nice children and nice everything and yet … it eats away, it gnaws at our soul, as the guilt, the blood on our hands debilitates us just as it did Lady Macbeth.
We’re on sensitive ground here aren’t we? When we start to talk about it in this way, we come face to face with the deep reality … may I use the word now … our sin. You can’t live an abundantly joyful life with that stuff going on, any more than I could have gone on to live a full, healthy life in my reeking clothes and with my cam cream still on and in my skin.
Imagine if, without a shower, I’d hopped in my car and driven down to the local shopping centre, sat down for a pizza at the pizza joint, wandered through the department store. It’s not on. And nor is trying to live our lives with that muck caking our souls. So what’s the answer?
Let me read you what the Apostle John wrote to some friends, in a letter – his first letter – around 60AD, so a good many years after he’d wandered the dusty roads of Israel with Jesus:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses 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 who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5–10)
So, if we think that we can walk in the darkness, live with that darkness inside us, and live in the light, live in a deep, intimate, fulfilling fellowship with Him at the same time, John’s saying here – come on, you’re kidding yourself. If we say that we have no sin, we’re deluding ourselves.
But if we fess up, if we’re honest with ourselves, if we’re honest with God, if we bring our filth and darkness, our hang–ups and our inadequacies, our failures and their consequences to Him, if we take them out of the deep darkness within and bring them out into the light and give them to Him, then something amazing happens.
Deep cleansing, the sort that only, only comes from Jesus. The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. The one thing that Lady Macbeth couldn’t do. The one thing that you and I cannot do. Wash away the sins. Wash away the guilt. The blood of Jesus, His sacrifice on that cross to pay for our guilt, to take our punishment on our behalf – He pays the full price, and the Spirit of God brings the peace of forgiveness and wholeness into our hearts. There’s nothing on earth like that.
If we bring our sins into the light, if we confess then to God, then He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and … listen to this bit very, very carefully … and cleanse us – deep cleansing – cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.
That my friend is why Jesus came. And if you know in the depths of your heart that you need that cleansing, then it’s time to pray this prayer with me.
Father God, today I have heard your Word. I realise in the depths of my heart that sin is tearing me apart. I realise that I’ve been hanging on to this muck inside me – as though somehow I can hide it from you. But I can’t, not anymore. I confess it to you – you know what I’m talking about here. You see it all. You know it all But I just want to come to you know and fess up, and admit it to you. Openly and honestly.
And you know Lord that I am so much like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. Doesn’t matter how hard I scrub, I can’t get clean. But I believe that in Jesus – in Jesus alone – I can be cleansed. So I cast myself on your grace and your mercy through Jesus – and I ask you to forgive me and to cleanse me. In His mighty name I pray. Amen.