I spent the morning scrubbing smoky soot off wooden furniture. The problem is that the smoke smell burrows itself into the wood. The smell is difficult to eradicate. Hard rubbing with “smoke sponges” and then turps and finally applying wood restorers is required. There are two elements: the appearance and the smell. Sometimes it looks o.k. but still smells and on other occasions it is reversed.
As I was rubbing away my mind wandered to the work that God needs to do with us. Believers know that they are justified by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross but it is the daily sanctification, scrubbing with the smoke sponge and the turps by the Holy Spirit, that is the on going work that is required. To be justified means we look like the product in the catalogue and is the way God sees us through Christ, but sanctification acknowledges that the bright shiny newness of the catalogue, in our earthly life, has never really existed.
This renewing process is described beautifully in Philippians 2:12&13, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” And, it is an ongoing work, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.
The moral: when there is unpleasant cleaning to do, use it as a reminder of the work required on us – especially the, hard to get, inside.