Slaked lime, a little chalk, and water - mixed together make a white substance which covers surfaces with a white coating. It isn't really paint, but this white-wash will give the impression of coating and covering over whatever it touches. The point of whitewash was not always to paint the surface, but to give a quick and very cheap covering. It was also a cheap solution to covering over surfaces which needed some sprucing up. As the whitewash is put on the surface, it provides very little protection to the surface - because it needs a few days to harden and almost "bond" with the surface it is used on. Living in Arizona, I have observed the combination of whitewash on the walls of adobe brick - something which actually works very well together because each binds well to the other. These are both low cost building materials, and because of their strength, were some of the first types of buildings erected in the area. There was an old saying that went something like, "You are too proud to whitewash, too poor to paint". It really signified the individual could easily have used a little whitewash on their walls, but were too proud to because it didn't dazzle like the paints. In reality, although the whitewash is a covering material, it rubs off, so it creates a less than permanent solution to the problem of needing to cover a surface.
You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. (Proverbs 28:13 MSG)
I think there are times when we pursue less than permanent solutions to the "covering over" of our sins. We get all involved in trying to find a way to fix our sin - through a series of good works, or some penance of some kind - but in reality, we are doing nothing more than applying a poor man's coat of whitewash to the sin! In fact, we have the perfect covering, but we choose the less effective, cheaper, and non-permanent because it is something WE can do! Silly us! When will we learn that our sin is not permanently covered by anything other than the blood of Jesus - crimson red, flowing freely, covering and permeating that which it connects with!
Break it down with me:
- Whitewash is pretty easily come by in the world today. We sometimes look for the solution which seems to come easy for us - if we can concoct it in our minds, it must work, right? Not! The easiest solution may not make the best remedy.
- Whitewash is cheap. We are reluctant to either obtain the costly (through going to Christ and asking him to cover our sins with his blood), or we are too afraid our sin doesn't measure up to needing such a costly fix (as though there were a "grade" to sin).
- Whitewash is less than permanent. At best, our fixes are probably immediately available to us, take a little while to "fix", but they also don't last. In the time it takes to have the "fix" bond to our sin, we probably have had sin "leak through" again! Another coat of whitewash will only mask what is underneath - it doesn't take it away.
- Whitewash is man made. It is our fix - not that which comes from the throne of God. Nothing quite fixes our fix like the fix Jesus brings!
The blood of Jesus was costly, but the cost was paid, once for all - nothing needs to be paid again. Now, if we have the stain remover available and choose to use a stain covering instead, isn't that just plain silly? The blood of Jesus removes the stain, gives a permanent fix to our sin, and provides a lasting beauty realized by no other solution. Just sayin!