(Article for publication week of 1-21- AD 2016)
" 'Come now, and let us reason together,' saith the LORD: 'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool' " (Isaiah 1:18).
The Baptist pastor and commentator, John Gill, who was one of the most able Hebraists in the history of the Church tells us that our text is actually parenthetical. In the midst of renouncing the sins of national Israel, the inspired prophet reminds the elect remnant among them of the sovereign grace of God. There never was but a few of the Israelites who were truly saved, but God always preserves the remnant according to the election of grace, and encourages them by his gospel.
First, our text describes the heinousness of sin. "Your sins be as scarlet" and are "red like crimson." Dear reader, this describes you and me. We have all sinned and come short of God's glory. We have all "missed the mark" (the literal meaning of sin). We have all transgressed the law of God (the Biblical definition of sin). We have done that which we should have not have done, and we have failed to do all we should have done. We have not loved God with all our being, nor have we loved our neighbour as ourselves. We are all as an unclean thing. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. We are members of the rebellious race of Adam and God is set to punish such rebels as we. Furthermore, there are no "venial" sins. The "smallest" of sins deserve eternal punishment in hell. In reality there are no "small" sins. (However, there are some sins that do more harm to our fellows than others, but that is not our point today.)
Secondly, our text tells us that our sins are not hidden from God. Our sins are bright red (figuratively speaking). God's All Seeing Eye sees every sin you have committed and every evil thought you have ever had. Though you may have your sins well concealed from others they are open and naked before Him with Whom we have to do.
Thirdly, the text declares our enmity to God. As different as the pure snow from red blood, are we so far estranged from God. He made us in His Image, and by our sins we have distorted that image. The Fall, our nature, and our practice all have estranged us far from God and put us at enmity with the Thrice Holy God that created us.
Dear Reader, do you feel this awful plague in your soul? Well, here is good news! Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow! The blood of Christ washes away all the sins of those who believe in Him. Though a believer is still a sinner in and of himself, judicially he is, as our text declares, as "white as snow." God sees not the sins of His people, but the righteousness of their Saviour! When God says we shall be as white as snow, He is telling us that He sees no spot in us (Song of Solomon 4:7). There is no sin so great that the blood of Christ cannot wash it away. God's elect are as white as snow through Christ's imputed righteousness and shall stand forever before Him arrayed in their robes of white.
"Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow"!
So, we see our text tells us of the completeness and thoroughness of God's saving grace by the redeeming blood of Christ. Dear Reader, if you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, you are this very moment white as snow in the eyes of your great God.