White as Snow
Though yours sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18
Last December, my family and I went to the mountains. We had lived in a tropical climate all our lives, so it was the first time we could see snow in all its magnificence. As we contemplated the white mantle covering the fields, my husband quoted Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
After asking about the meaning of scarlet, our three-year-old daughter asked, “Is the color red bad?” She knows sins are things God dislikes, but this verse is not talking about colors. The prophet was describing the bright red dye obtained from the eggs of a small insect. Clothes would be double-dyed in this bright red so the color became fixed. Neither rain nor washing would remove it. Sin is like that. No human effort can take it away. It’s rooted in the heart.
Only God can cleanse a heart from sin. And as we looked at the mountains, we admired the pure whiteness that scrubbing and bleaching a piece of cloth dyed in scarlet red can’t achieve. When we follow Peter’s teaching, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19), God forgives us and gives us a new life. Only through Jesus’s sacrifice can we receive what no one else can give—a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!
Sometimes we believe that once we’ve gone down a certain path in our lives, there’s no turning back. And, obviously, if it’s too late to go back, we think we might as well keep going that way. It’s easy to think this way about sin. We may believe we’ll always suffer for our sin, that nothing can heal us from its effects. If we believe this, we may sink even deeper into patterns of destructive behavior, thinking it’s too late to come back to a life of joy and peace with God.
In Isaiah 1:16–20, it’s as if God, through the prophet Isaiah, tells His people Israel, “You can go back.” The Israelites were suffering terribly because of their sin (vv. 4–5), but Isaiah pleaded with them to repent, promising them that if they turned from their sin and lived justly (vv. 16–17), God would cleanse and restore them, no matter how impossibly deep the stain of their transgression (v. 18). God makes truly new beginnings possible, not just once, but every day. His forgiving love is “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23).
How does God’s promise of new beginnings give you hope today?