The Cleanest Clean

Puffery: exaggerated or false praise.

The American advertising industry runs on puffery. Advertisers are allowed to make statements that are not meant to be taken literally. Some examples: Starbucks, “the best coffee for the best you,” every car dealership, ever: “we have the perfect car for you,” virtually every pizza and sub sandwich maker, “the freshest ingredients.” One I remember seeing over and over on TV as a child, “the cleanest clean,” is puffery at its finest. The statement is neither provable nor disputable. It’s pure puffery; not to be taken literally. Yet, it recently occurred to me that there really is a “cleanest clean” to be had.

I reached out to someone Ramona and I have been ministering to because we hadn’t heard from this person in a while. The person responded that they had recently stumbled in their faith walk and were dealing with heavy shame. I responded immediately:

“Regret is fine. The convicting guilt of the Holy Spirit is fine. Shame is not. Shame is from the enemy who wants us to wallow in our failure.”

I then reminded this person of Romans 8:1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In a follow-up text, I used the example of a stain on the front of your shirt. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can remove a nasty stain if we pretreat it with a stain remover and then wash the shirt. But it’s not always perfect. Sometimes a light spot remains, and we wonder if others notice it the way we do. We often can treat sin that way after we asked for God’s forgiveness. When we sincerely do that, the stain is gone. But we keep looking for it, with our nose down at our shirt.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 8:1 that there is no need to do that. God really does offer the cleanest clean, the whitest white, the brightest bright. And it’s not puffery. It’s true! No pretreating necessary. Give it to God to wash and it’s gone. I have no idea the nature of this person’s stumble. And I don’t need to know what is: that’s the point. I know that once this sin was surrendered to God and forgiveness was asked for, it was given. God’s perfect washing machine gets the whole stain of sin out the first time. When we keep looking down at where it was, still looking for a trace of it, we’re missing what He has in store for us next!

I will confess that dwelling on past sins has been a challenge in my own faith walk. A pastor friend pointed out to me that I was doing that and encouraged me to keep my eyes pointed straight forward. One of the greatest pitchers who ever lived, perhaps the greatest, Satchel Paige, had what is one of my favorite quotes: “don’t stop to look back at your past, that’s the only way it can gain on you.” Paige was right: whether the stain is from many years ago or last week, if you have given it to God it’s gone. It’s the cleanest clean you will ever realize. Don’t you miss out on it by staring down at where the stain used to be!

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)

This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI

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