From Scarlet to White as Snow

Is. 1:18        Come now, let us argue it out,
        says the LORD:
    though your sins are like scarlet,
        they shall be like snow;
    though they are red like crimson,
        they shall become like wool.


The prophet is defining reality for the Israelites. They are in great need of salvation and yet, they may have come to believe that they could save themselves. God is making it abundantly clear that there is nothing that they can do to save themselves but the gift of salvation comes from God.

Do the people want to argue about the need for salvation? God is ready and willing to have a discussion and “argue it out,” or “reason together.” Then the LORD clarifies the condition of the people. Their sins are as red as the blood-stained garment of a murderer. In their human understanding those stains are permanent, but not for God. God can take the permanently stained garments and do what no human can do. The scarlet stain of sin can be made white as snow, or as pure as wool. This is the promise and the work of the LORD.


The reality is that all of us have sinned and we fall short of being God’s holy people. We have all done things in our lives that do not glorify God and there is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. While we may try to be good people, we can never remove the stain of our sin — that can only be done by God.

At the same time we must be willing to live into the fact that God does, indeed, remove that stain. Far too often we continue to punish ourselves for our past. We think the scarlet stain remains emblazoned on our chest when in reality, God has turned it white as snow. That’s the conversation that God wants to have with us. We have sinned and fallen short and yes, those sins have created a stain on our lives. But no matter how hard we work at it, we cannot set things right. So, while we’re arguing it out with God, we are encouraged to repent and live into the salvation and new life that we receive from the LORD. This is the great promise, that those things which have been done in the past are erased from our records. The stain is no longer visible because of God’s working in our lives.

Come, be reasonable and understanding of God’s work in our lives. The LORD works a miracle of grace and salvation, taking that which we could never set right, and making it like new. Live in the newness that God has to offer.


Lord, thank you for the gift of salvation and newness of life. Amen.


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