Stirring the Stink; Spiritual Lessons From the Pages of Potty Training
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” – Isaiah 64:6
I want to tell you the story of a father and his young son. For weeks, the father had been diligently potty training the young lad, teaching him the basics of bathroom etiquette and personal hygiene. One day when the son felt the urge to use the bathroom, He confidently told his father that he was ready to go to the bathroom without any help. The father said, “Okay, but if you need me for anything, I will be waiting in the hallway ready to help.” So the Father sent the boy into the bathroom and closed the door. As he patiently waited, he heard his son rummaging around in the bathroom, just as any curious young boy might do. He heard the toilet seat go up and down, and the toilet being repetitively flushed, as if it was some sort of toy. He even heard his son humming and quietly singing to himself. All of these noises were cushioned by an occasional period of silence. As time passed by, the father became increasingly concerned. The task at hand was taking longer than it should have. The father spoke through the door and said, “Son, are you okay?” The little boy boastfully shouted back, “I’m okay daddy; I can do this all by myself!” Yet the father knew that something was wrong. He entered the bathroom only to find out that everything was not okay. The boy was standing in a puddle of urine with his clothes crumpled in a pile on the wet floor. He had a roll of toilet paper in his hand as he tried to wipe his bottom clean. Toilet paper was scattered everywhere. Both he and the toilet were covered with poop. As the father stood there looking at his son with loving eyes, the boy frantically continued to try to clean himself off; yet the more he tried, the bigger mess he made.
I understand that this illustration might be considered somewhat crude. Nevertheless, it accurately depicts the mess we make when we try to clean up our lives from the mess of sin without crying out to our heavenly Father. In reality, any attempt on our part to wipe ourselves clean from stain of sin only spreads the stink. Even our best efforts to be clean only lead to a pile of filthy rags strewn all over the place (Isaiah 64:6). The truth is, our garments are soiled and we need our Heavenly Father to remove them (Zechariah 3:3-4); for He is the only one who can clean us up and clothe us with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 3:5).
But how does this all happen? How are we made clean? We are made clean through the atoning work of Christ accomplished at the cross of Calvary. God the Father provides cleansing for His children through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ, and it is Christ alone who atones for sin. He became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). This means we have nothing to offer based upon our own merit when it comes to getting clean before God. Any effort to do so is futile labor which falls short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). In essence, we end up only making a bigger mess.
If we could offer something towards our salvation, it would mean that salvation could somehow be bought. But salvation cannot be bought (Ephesians 2:8-9). In fact, we are the ones bought – bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). And when Jesus paid the price for our sin, He paid the full price. Thus, we cannot even offer the smallest contribution to the balance due for the price of our soul. God designed salvation in this way so we could not boast in ourselves, but only boast in God (1 Corinthians 1:31). Yet we have a tendency to be like the boasting little boy in the story. We proudly say, “I can do this all by myself” when we can’t. And any effort on our part to spiritually clean ourselves just stirs the stink. It is only the atoning work of our Lord Jesus that cleans us from the stain and smear of sin.
– Pastor Eric