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Stain, Sin and Sanctification

Posted by Mark Harrod on

The weather in October has been unseasonably warm. I love autumn and the coolness of the air that comes with it, but I am thankful for these warm days because they have given me the opportunity to finish a project at home that was long overdue. For months I had been trying to find the time to clean and resurface our deck. These days of unusual warmth afforded me the occasion to get it done. Cleaning and resurfacing a deck takes time, lots of time. So as I was pressure washing, sanding, and applying the stain, I had time to think. I discovered that there are several similarities between working on a deck and growth in the Christian life.

The process is long – but worth it. I have discovered that there is usually a big difference between the amount of time I think it will take to do a job and the actual time it takes. I thought it would take me four hours to pressure wash the deck. Eight hours later, I finally finished. I thought it would take me about 3 to 4 hours to stain the deck. Nine hours later, I finally finished. The process took longer than I imagined, but the end result was worth it. The process of sanctification—that is, becoming like Christ—is long. In fact, it takes a lifetime. But the end result is worth it. There are no shortcuts to growth in Christ. I learned a long time ago, that shortcuts end up costing more in the long run. When the hours began to multiply, I began asking myself why I was doing this. The answer was simple: if I didn’t do it now, the deck would be worse off later and might have to be replaced completely which would cost a lot more than resurfacing it. Our tendency is to ignore the things that slow us down in our walk with Christ. Hebrews 12:1-2 refers to these things as “weight and sin”. We are to lay these things aside because they will keep us from running the race with endurance. Endure in your efforts to grow in the faith. The process will be long but it is worth it.

Some of the old stain came off easily – other parts of it, not so much. Pressure washing the old stain off the deck was fun. My head reeled with the power of turning the nozzle to a spot on the deck and watching the old stain fly off. Some of the old stain flew off without a fight, but there were other spots that didn’t give up so easily. Some of the old stain only came off by clinging to the sliver of wood to which it was attached. Some sins are easily laid by the wayside. They don’t put up a fight and victory comes easily. But there are other sins that are entrenched in our lives. They are stubborn and removing them feels like we are giving up a piece of our very soul. Sometimes it is easier to ignore them and move on to something less challenging. But that will hurt us in the long run. Sin is never neutral. It can’t be covered over. If we try to stain over it, it will cause the new stain to chip and crack and things will be worse off than before. Rather than ignore it, we must turn up the pressure of the Word. We must trust the Savior that He will fill that small hole with something much better, something that will be beautiful and satisfying. The Lord doesn’t remove something without filling the gap with
something much better. Trust Him with those hard-to-remove spots.

A second coat still awaits. I am hoping for at least one more warm spell before autumn really settles in because for best results, the deck needs two coats. I wish I didn’t have to apply another coat, but I don’t want what I’ve done already to be wasted. So I hope to apply a second coat. In our walk with the Lord, we are never done. A second, third, fourth, etc. coat is
needed. We never get beyond the gospel. We never finish. But with each coat, the old is further removed and the new is enhanced. The extra coats of grace, power, and joy are applied as we practice the spiritual disciplines. As we pray, we are applying a fresh coat. When we are in the Word and meditating on it, we are applying a second coat. When we engage in a gospel centered conversation with a friend, we are applying a second coat. The good news is that when you have experienced the grace of God, the second coat is not burdensome; it is life giving. 

I am praying that the upcoming Life Action Revival Summit will be a time of resurfacing for us. I have been asking the Lord to do a work in and at Trinity where the old is stripped away and the new comes. I hope that you have set aside the dates of November 13-20 to come to the services. The time will be worth it and, Lord willing, we will be renewed.

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