I have a spot on my carpet. It's a stain left from a spilled drink. I've cleaned the spot many times. Usually the stain looks like its gone. But before too long, it's back. Obviously I am only cleaning the surface of the carpet and the stain must be underneath. So while it looks clean for a while, it always comes back.
Sin is like that. Sometimes we may change a behavior in our life, or "clean up" our act. It looks like the sin is gone. But if the heart issues stays, then the sin will return. What are some examples of cleaning up our act, without changing the heart?
Doing good to get something. (Bribery)
Doing good to please. (Emotional)
Doing good to avoid punishment. (Punitive)
But without changing the heart...the behavior always comes back. That is why prison's have so many repeat offenders. You can punish all you want...but without a heart change the behavior doesn't change for good.
But Jesus - he is better than Oxyclean. He goes to the root of the stain, the sin, and he removes it. The doesn't mean it doesn't require work on our part. Without Jesus, we can work all we want and the stain will stay. But with Jesus, we still have to work, we have to fight temptation, but suddenly we have the power (stain fighting power!) to beat sin.
The fact is, as long as we're on earth we'll always have some remnant of the stain left. Because we are sinners. But once we go to heaven, we'll be presented to God - Stain free!
Ephesians 5:25b - 27 -- Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Mark 7:21, 22 -- For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
Colossians 1:22, 23 -- But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.