Endless washings

I was on duty in the library the other day. “What!” I hear you cry. “Are libraries open again?”

Well, some of them. Sort of. The public aren’t allowed in, but books can be requested, collected, returned – and quarantined. The instructions on making libraries ‘safe’ run to dozens of pages, sometimes contradicting each other. I’m thankful I just have to do as I’m told! But in amongst all the other instructions are recurring commands to wash or sanitise my hands, surfaces, screens, computers, printers…

While I was pottering about, pretending to be busy and trying not to touch anything unnecessarily, I found myself musing on the Lord’s words through Jeremiah: “For though you wash yourselves with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked (margin: stained) before Me,” says the Lord God. (Jeremiah 2:22)

Now, hand-washing is doubtless a good idea (though too much of it with harsh chemicals will destroy the skin’s acid mantle, our first line of defence against all sorts of nasty things), but it will never deal with our real infection – the sin which so offends a holy God and separates us from Him. Nor will our best efforts at trying to make ourselves acceptable to Him be of the slightest use to even begin to remove the stain.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

Or who may stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart… (Psalm 24:3-4a)

Clean outwardly and inwardly.

There is only one Person of whom that is true, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who by the shedding of His blood makes it possible for our sins, which are like scarlet, to be made as white as snow. And in Him, we then, by grace, through faith, may ascend into the hill of the Lord, accepted in the Beloved.

But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His own mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

The blood of Christ, Thy spotless Lamb,

O God, is all my plea:

Nought else could for my sin atone,

I have no merit of my own

Which I can bring to Thee.


No sacrifice save His who bore

My load upon the tree;

No other plea which lips could frame,

No other blood, no other name,

Accepted is for me.


Since Christ has entered by his blood

The holiest on high;

By that same hallowed blood-stained track

Thou welcomest the sinner back,

And biddest me draw nigh.


O wondrous cross! O precious blood!

O death by which I live!

The sinless One, for me made sin,

Doth now, His wondrous heart within,

Eternal refuge give!


By that blest cross, that cleansing blood,

I know His power to save;

The merits of His work confessed,

I stand in Him completely blest,

A conqueror o’er the grave.

-William Pond