God cleanses our hearts again — and again
If only I could be clean!
Are you familiar with Lady Macbeth? She is one of the main characters in William Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Macbeth.” Desiring to be “Queen Macbeth,” she becomes obsessed with gaining power. She connives and sets things up so that there would be opportunity to get rid of King Duncan so that her husband could then become king.
When Lord Macbeth expresses reservations about the plot, she goads him into the act. With her prodding, he goes and murders King Duncan as she waits nearby.
After her husband commits the murder, she takes the bloody daggers and plants the weapons on the king’s attendants that she had previously drugged — framing them for the heinous crime!
Lady Macbeth seemingly achieves her desires as she is now queen, but it comes at a high cost. The guilt that she feels drives her to insanity. To her core, she is miserable. Incessant rubbing and washing of her hands, to try and rid herself of the blood of King Duncan, does not help. She repeatedly mumbles to herself the iconic phrase: “Out, damn'd spot!” She wants her hands to be clean — she wants her conscience to be clean. But the guilt of her crime does not go away. In her mind, she continues to see the blood on her hands. It is stained into her conscience!
Many people know the struggle of Lady Macbeth —they have experienced it themselves. Perhaps it’s not murder, but it might be something else that afflicts the conscience: unfaithfulness, betrayal, theft, or some act of immorality. People understand the sting of their sins and guilt. We feel it and we naturally acknowledge that it is not good. We even understand, as Lady Macbeth did, that there are eternal implications tied to our wrongful actions — she recognized that hell was in store for her because of her guilt.
Is there a crime — is there guilt that weighs heavily upon you? Have you ever expressed the desire that Lady Macbeth had: “If only I could be clean!”? God desires for you to be clean, and He offers to do the work of cleansing you. He does so by pointing you to His Son Jesus, who takes your crime and guilt upon Himself and pays for it at the cross. And in place of our dirty sins, He wants you to be covered in His righteousness!
Jesus wants the spots that should cause us to face damnation removed from our hearts. For this reason He has given us the gift of baptism. As we are baptized, God gives a promise to those who are covered in spots of sin that He washes us clean. Because of this, we are assured that we now stand before God as those who are holy and righteous, because we are covered in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. After all, in baptism we are “baptized into Christ Jesus.” This means that His death upon the cross counts for us. It also means that His resurrection counts for us — assuring us that we also rise and “walk in newness of life.”
Whenever Christians feel the weight of their sin and guilt — when we recognize that spots of sin have crept back upon us — we take that burden to God who washes us again and again. Daily we throw that guilt back into the baptismal font as we turn to God with hearts that are sorry for our sins and trust in Him to give us His grace. Now we don’t need to be re-baptized, but we simply remember our baptism and the promise that God made to us then. Our gracious Lord cleanses our hearts again and again — renewing His promise of forgiveness — and telling us to depart in peace.
Do you desire to be clean? God desires it. Be baptized. Remember your baptism. And go, live your life in peace. God has forgiven you.
Romans 6:3-4 “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”