Summary: Romans 6 sermon about trading our "dirty shirts" in for "new shirts" through Baptism and the sign of the Cross.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Three-in-One who cleanses our hearts and minds and souls from all impurities, Amen.
Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. This dirty old tshirt has been buried just outside of the campus house for three days. It has a lot to do with you and me. Take a look at it. (Allow front row to look at the shirt).
This shirt was once white – bleached white. Now it’s a dingy grey brown color. But I ask you – is the shirt that dingy grey brown color, or is it the dirt? You see, this shirt isn’t brown, it isn’t grey. This shirt is white. It’s bright white. But it’s covered, saturated with dirt and grime and animal waste and the remains of dead things.
This shirt is full of all sorts of nasty things. The dirt and the grime make it LOOK bad. There is no way that we would want to wear this shirt around Gainesville or anywhere else. People would laugh at our dirty shirt. They probably wouldn’t sit too close. The probably would wonder – what is wrong with that guy anyway that he’s wearing that dirty shirt?
The worst sinners amongst us are like this dirty shirt. This shirt is like, you know, that “other guy.” The guy or girl you look at and say “wow! How can you be that bad of a sinner?” It’s real easy to point out the other guy, the other girl, the one with the dirty shirt.
Still – there is something even worse going on in this shirt. This shirt has been laying in the dirt for days now. It has been buried in the dirt much like our lives have been buried in sin. But you and I know that when we come to church and confess our sins, they are forgiven. We get rid of the dirt. We become bright white like this shirt was when it was brand new. We all know how the process works. We come to church, we confess our sins and we get forgiven and cleansed.
I ask you a question though. Do you ever try to keep some sin? Have you ever told God, “well, I’ll confess sins “a” through “d”, but leave “e” and “f” for me to figure out on my own. I’ll say I’m sorry for those sins next week….if I haven’t figured out a way to make an excuse for them by then.
We do it all the time. We keep our sins. We let them cling to us, close to our bodies. Maybe they’re not even the kinds of sins that other people can see. This shirt is full of dirt, but that’s not all it’s full of. It’s full of bacteria. It’s full of viruses. It’s full of all sorts of nastiness that you can’t see with the naked eye. You can’t see it on your brother or sister sitting next to you. Maybe you can’t even see it yourself. You could get rid of all the dirt that is visible to everyone else, and still be filthy.
And ironically, those sins – those sins that are like bacteria and viruses – those sins that can’t be seen by anyone else but you are many times much more harmful than a little mud or a little sand. Those sins can kill. It’s sins like this – like holding a grudge against your friend, like talking behind their back. It’s sins that you do in private that you think no one else knows about. Those sins surround us like this shirt. They cling close to us. They don’t just stay on the shirt. They get on our skin. They get in our nose. They get in our hair. They get in our mouths. We get infected, and if we let it go long enough, we can die from it.
Funny isn’t it? How something so small can do so much harm.
That’s not the end of the story, though. You see, God knows about all of these impurities. He knows every little speck of dirt. He knows every little sin that you didn’t confess last Sunday or the Sunday before. He knows about the sin that you keep to yourself.
He has the power to cleanse you of those sins. You and I know that power personally. We know it from our Baptism.
Because God loves us so much – He gave us His only begotten Son. The only way to get the dirt and the grime and the bacteria and viruses out of a shirt that has been so thoroughly corrupted as this one has is bleach. We were so infested with the sin from our spiritual shirts that our whole body needed to be dunked in bleach. The thing is, we couldn’t take that. We couldn’t take the full dose of bleach that we needed to be fully clean. That bleach would kill us.