I had to do some touch up painting on the exterior siding of our house since we had some planks replaced recently. In my first attempt, I used a color my wife and I picked out called Grey Sanctuary. We thought it was going to be a good match. Not so much. It was too light.
We went back to Lowe’s, and they did a digitized color match using a small piece of the old siding that Linda found lying around. This morning, I painted over the light places and it blended in perfectly. You can’t easily tell what was painted and what was not.
The dramatic results of the two different paint colors I had used was a great illustration of the contrast between what it looks like when we try to cover our sin versus how it looks when God covers our sin. (I realize that human illustrations fall apart if we try to take them too far.) Maybe there isn’t any direct mention of the word “paint” in the Bible (at least not in the NIV that I use). However, the concept of covering is actually a predominant theme, so the function of paint as a covering might be helpful. I know the power of a good illustration to help God’s people see an abstract concept more clearly and how this greater understanding can be applied in their own life.
This got me to thinking more about what I reflected on a couple of weeks ago. In a previous article, I looked at Psalm 32:1-5. What stood out is the contrast between what God does and what man does with respect to sin. In verse 1, David boldly stated, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Emphasis added).
God had indeed covered over David’s sins, which was a blessing David did not take for granted. God covered the sins of His people so that he no longer saw them. Only God has the authority to do that. However, before David confessed and repented of his sins, he had tried (and failed) in many ways to cover up his own sins. The story of Bathsheba immediately comes to mind. He had no authority to do that.
As I thought about the contrast between my first and second coats of paint, I could not help but notice the stark differences between the results. The first coat represented my own limited human attempt at putting on a fresh coat of righteousness and repairing my own mistakes from the past so that I would look better to others. There were dozens of drips of many colors that needed to be hidden from view. There was a major gouge from a flying umbrella a few years ago that I was embarrassed about. There were rotten planks that brought me shame and regret from neglect. No matter how much time we took to find just the right color to match, our attempts fell short.
The next day, when I applied the professionally produced color match paint on with a new brush, I saw how right the color was. My drips were erased. The big scratch was no more to be seen. All the scars and imperfections in the old siding were covered in a shade that blended perfectly.
Isn’t that just how God’s covering of our sins turns out for those who have faith in Jesus Christ?
Our attempts will always fail. There are no works we can do to add to what he has already done on the cross to pay for our sins. His covering is perfect since he is the Master Painter. “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).