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Cleaning House

Leviticus 16:18-19
“Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the people of Israel.”

Perhaps part of the reason we can so quickly run right back to habitual vices after confession is because our form of confession is far too easy. It lacks the holistic consecration needed to break the cycle. I mean, what are we doing to practice the reality that our misdeeds impact the world around us? That our sins affect the instruments we use to carry them out? Maybe if we disciplined ourselves by purging our devices as well as our hearts, those sinful habits would get broken before great damage is done.

Consider it this way, friend. What if a man, after engaging in pornography on his computer, didn’t just merely confess his sin and move on, but went further by symbolically atoning for the instruments of that sin as well? What if he erased his computer hard drive of everything—deleting word documents, family photos, email applications, bank account passwords, bookmarks, and shortcuts—and then, after the tedium of turning his computer into a blank slate, endured the painstaking process of re-uploading all those necessary programs once more?

And what if a lady who drove to the ABC store to drown out her woes after a difficult week, or who drove to the post office to mail an angry letter to a friend, didn’t stop by confessing her sin either, but symbolically made atonement for the vehicle of her prodigality? What if she spent an hour in the afternoon sun washing her car thoroughly by hand—waxing the tires, scrubbing the windows, dusting the steering wheel, vacuuming the seats and the floors—even if it meant having to sacrifice her afternoon plans as a result?

What difference might it make to our lives of faith if we followed up our verbal apologies to God with tangible signs of our penitence? Perhaps a bit of ceremonial altar-washing would do our confession a world of good as well.