The disgusting nature of sin is troublesome for most of us. We're okay with the idea that we might be wrong sometimes; wrong is something we can easily fix just by being 'right.' But disgusting...
Disgusting is hard.
It's hard for a few reasons. The first is the same reason that being wrong is sometimes hard: there always seems to be a mind trick out of it. There are men and women among us who can commit the most disgusting of sins (as if there's a hierarchy) and look at themselves in a mirror and still think themselves beautiful. We can do the same. We can tell little white lies. We can take little shortcuts through life. We can even engage in whatever dark pet sins we keep. And most of us can still look at ourselves in the mirror and not think ourselves disgusting. And so it becomes this safe little area for us, this sin niche. We can do this and not feel the filth, and so it must not, after all, be sin.
There's an equal danger on the other side here. Some of us look in the mirror and see nothing but filth. The idea that sin is disgusting, paired with the knowledge that we're all sinners, keeps us in a perpetual state of disgustedness with our gross selves. There are some who preach this is precisely where we ought to be, but I don't buy it. If you look in the mirror and can't see anything but your own disgustingness, how are you ever supposed to believe God sees more than that? If you look in the mirror and cannot find a way to love yourself, how are you supposed to believe God loves you? If you look in the mirror and have no grace, how are you supposed to fathom grace amazing? Persons who fall in this category spend their lives defeated. That's no way to live.
Disgusting is hard for a third reason, and this is perhaps where it gets most real. At least for me. It's hard because there's no real standard for us of what disgusting is. Right and wrong are fairly concrete ideas. It's like yes and no. Black and white. Good and bad. There is some delineation, of course, but we all fairly understand that there is a difference between right and wrong, and we have some good guidance in our society of what that is.
Clean and unclean are far different. We don't hold these as standards any more in our society, so they're almost meaningless. In ancient Israel, clean and unclean were even more clear cut than right and wrong. They were more concrete categories even than black and white. Everyone knew what was clean and what was unclean, and so when God said that sin makes a man unclean, everyone understood that there was a severe line that separated the unclean from the clean and that God was making a categorical, not a relative, statement.
Clean and unclean, to us, has become relative. It depends on the time and place. It depends on the circumstances. So when God says that sin makes us unclean...what does that even mean? It's so hard to know.
But let me say this, and I say this from hard experience: when it finally sinks into your heart what disgusting is, you'll know. You'll feel every heavy burden of it. You'll feel its horrid weight. When you let your heart contemplate sin and grace, you'll find yourself in this place where disgusting means something. It has to.
Because you're feeling it.
And when you reach that place - that place where sin makes you feel more than just "bad" or...sadly...nothing at all - when you come to a point in your life where sin all of a sudden makes you feel gross...that's when you know you have it. That's when you start to understand clean and unclean. That's when grace like rain starts to make sense.
Because you're praying for the skies to open up and grace pour down and wash you clean.
It feels like nothing will ever be able to make you clean again, like you've really done it this time, like you're marked a sinner forever. Like anyone could just look at you and see your grossness. Like everyone would just look at you and be disgusted. Like God Himself turns away because even He can't bear to look at you right now. You can feel the slime settling in all over your skin, the little particles of dirt settling into the crevices of your heart. Yeah, you've really done it this time. Nothing...nothing will ever make you clean again. Now, you have a right view of sin. It's not something anyone can teach you or preach at you. You have to just experience it and then, you'll never forget.
But never forget this, either: there's still grace. And this is what grace is all about. Grace makes a way. It makes a way for you to be clean again, for you to come back. It makes it possible to wash away the film and the filth and the stains. It rushes through your heart and picks up every little speck of dirt out of every little crevice and washes it away.
Oh, grace like rain, pour down. Wash this sinner clean.