One of the most disgusting movie scenes I’ve ever seen comes up in the movie RV. Robin Williams’ character is trying to empty the tank of his family’s RV while on their vacation. The hose is not attaching correctly to the RV, and after some creative attempts at getting it to stay on, they attempt to flush the sewage line and then comes the nasty. An explosion of excrement and urine that flies into the sky like Old Faithful, before splattering the characters in the face and everywhere else.
Even as a teenager, that scene disgusted me.
You know what else disgusts me?
There are days where I’m starkly aware of my sinful desires, thoughts, words, and deeds. God shines a light on the ugly character traits and habits that seep into my heart.
This is not pleasant.
But it is beneficial.
Sin only grows when it is not brought into the light of God’s law and God’s grace.
Last Tuesday I spent some time listening to and then reading the book of Malachi. This is not a book I’ve spent any intentional time in, and I was struck with so many images in the book of Malachi that describe the gracious process of sanctification as well as the gross nature of my sin.
The Gross Nature Of Sin
Let’s start with the bad news: our sin is egregious. This is where I was this morning. I was reminded of just how broken and sinful I’m prone to be.
A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord almighty. – Malachi 1:6a
When I am walking in unrepentant sin, sin I’m not actively turning away from by the power of the Spirit of God in me, I’m giving God less than my best. I am dishonoring God when I refuse to bring my sin to Him in repentance, when I refuse to walk in the light of communion with Him.
Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. – Malachi 3:8a
When I refuse to give God back what He has already given me, I am in essence robbing Him. We see in the book of Malachi and elsewhere that God will ultimately not be mocked when we refuse to be generous, when we refuse to utilize the gifts we’ve been given for the Kingdom of God.
Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. – Malachi 2:3
And here’s the grossest verse in Malachi, a verse that takes me back to that scene from RV. Unrepentant sin is like poop smeared across my face. It is disgusting and abhorrent.
Do we think of sin in this way? Do we excuse it away, diminishing its weightiness? Or do we embrace the reality that our sin dishonors God, robs from God, and ultimately is vile before God?
Today, I’m well aware of my sin.
On days like today, I feel like a poop-faced pastor.
And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
Now, if you’re feeling beat down, with every sin you’ve committed bearing down on you, you’re missing the point.
There’s a difference between conviction and condemnation. I pray that the book of Malachi and what it teaches about our sin convicts you, not condemns you.
Once we are more than aware of the poop on our faces, the beauty of God’s gracious sanctification becomes clear.
The Gracious Process of Sanctification
Sanctification is not fun. It can be excruciatingly painful at times. Like I have said, the moments when God draws my attention to my sins is never a happy occasion. Not at first at least. Once I wrestle through my doubts, I am reminded of the sanctification process that is provided for me by a good God.
God is holy.
His glory shines bright.
Encountering Him as I walk through life is exhilarating and disconcerting. He is holy. I am not when there is unrepentant sin in my life. Look with me however at how the book of Malachi talks about this process of sanctification.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, – Malachi 3:2-3
That’s how the prophet Malachi describes the nature of God when He comes to remove the sins of His people. The priests and religious leaders of the people of God were full of sin. God would come to deal with this sin, but we see that He does it by refining and purifying so that there would be a remnant of priests who would now be able to appear in righteousness before the Lord.
Here’s the beauty of the gospel.
When I look in the mirror of God’s Word and see poop on my face, I can rest assured that God will purify me and refine me from my sin. I will be made clean. I will be made new.
People of God, sit briefly under the weight of your sin. Realize that it is a dishonoring of God. But don’t remain there in self-condemnation. Race to the cross. Rejoice in the grace that is available for you in Jesus Christ.
Confess your sins to other believers. I’m grateful for the couple men I trust that I can bring my sin into the light with. They know me, the real me.
In His Name,