Sins, Once Scarlet, Now White as Snow
By Al Stoner
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa. 1:18).
The words of the Prophet are foreshadowing the glorious nature of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. In the mind of the Holy One sin is glaringly scarlet and conspicuously crimson by its very nature. Sin is a "very grievous" (Gen. 18:20) matter before the living God and it continually testifies against those who commit it (cf. Jer. 14:7). Sin is "the transgression of the law" (I Jn. 3:4). Sin is as a "thick cloud" (Isa. 44:22), separating God and men, and alienating men from the life of God (cf. Eph. 4:18). "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). "He that committeth sin is of the Devil" (I Jn. 3:8). And in the time of the New Covenant the greatest sin is not believing on Christ (Jn. 16:9), the One whom God exclusively (cf. Acts 4:12) has appointed and "set forth" (Rom. 3:25) "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26).
Thus, we see that sin is grievous, sin offends, sin testifies against the sinner, sin separates from the living God, sin alienates from the life of God, sin condemns, and sin results in death. If men do not avail themselves of the blessed provision in Christ that God has made to put away sin, they shall be “cast into the lake of fire” (see Rev. 20:14-15), which is the second death.
From God's perspective sin is, and has always been, "scarlet" and "crimson." Its grievously reprehensible nature continually shouts out brazenly into His face. But the Prophet Isaiah is speaking here of a glorious provision and time when the "scarlet" and the "crimson" nature of sin would be changed into pure "whiteness" and "wool" by a divine transaction. In the purpose of God a particular death would occur, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, which would gloriously effect a removal of sin from the mind of God so that He sees them no more, and bring about a real and effectual cleansing from sin for the guilty parties, so that they are no longer guilty. Through the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which has followed, a complete reversal of the Edenic curse has now been effected.
And, bless God, that time has come. We are now living in the day of salvation, in the day of an accomplished redemption. The Lamb of God has come and has taken away the sins of the world (cf. Jn. 1:29). He has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26). "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (I Pet. 3:18). "God hath set forth (Christ) to be a propitiation (a covering for sin) through faith in His blood" (Rom. 3:25). The Man Christ Jesus is, Himself, in the present time the covering for sin (cf. I Jn. 2:1-2). He is "the Hiding Place" (Isa. 32:2) from the wrath of God for all those who are baptized into Christ, and are believing on Him unto life eternal, and taking hold of the great salvation in Him.
From God's perspective, sin has been completely atoned for by His only begotten Son. So far as the pardoned individuals are concerned (those in Christ Jesus), that which was once scarlet (and indelibly associated with their persons) is now white, and what was once crimson is now as wool because of the unimaginably enormous payment for sin which has been made by the Lord Jesus. As it is written, "by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). The obedience of reference here is that of Christ laying down His life, that He might take it again. This He did for our sakes unto the glory of God.
The believer in Christ must labor to hold fast this perspective. As the Apostle declared: "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (Heb. 4:11; cf. v. 3). This is a divinely achieved rest, but nevertheless earnest effort must be put forth by the believer to lay hold of it. “Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called.” (I Tim. 6:12). This is a provision that belongs exclusively to believing men and women; it is theirs to lay hold of, and it is substantive in nature. Christ Jesus purchased it for them. They must continually put forth effort to possess it for themselves. Let us who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ seek to glorify God by our faith in this great salvation, which has been prepared before the face of all people.