The Epic Stain: sin and the cleansing power of Jesus


What does hairspray, a bar of soap, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser have in common?  It all started with me gathering laundry.  And then I found it—an epic ink pen explosion on Dave’s Marc Anthony jeans.

On the right leg, there was a deep purple Rorschach ink design with splatters going outward.  I gasped.  No…not Dave’s favorite jeans.

I took a can of hairspray and went to war. As I sprayed, I blotted the deep purple ink into an old white cloth. Ha, I’m making progress…I thought, still naïve.

When I lifted the jeans I realized I had made an epic mistake.  By not putting a cloth inside the pant leg, I had transferred the stain onto the back of the jeans. I sighed, saddened, but not ready to give up.

Twenty minutes later, I was out of hairspray and time. I cleaned up the mess and decided to let the jeans sit for a day.  You see, I had recently resolved to try to fix things instead of replacing them. Little did I know that the stain had a costly lesson to give me.

Calling in Reinforcements

The next morning, I pulled out the damp jeans and spread them on the kitchen counter. It was time to call for help.  When Dave saw the stain he sighed.  “Wow, that looks bad.  I don’t know honey.”

“Please help me,” I said. “I need your strong arms.” We quickly moved to straight rubbing alcohol, pouring it straight on the stain and blotting until our arms ached.Yet, when I finally pulled the pocket out we realized that it was full of purple as well. “Honey, the ink is in the very fibers of the jeans,” Dave said sadly. Yet we pressed on.

Finally, after 45 minutes of us laboring together, Dave had a brilliant idea—to soak the stained spot in a combination of boiling water, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.

After a ten-minute soak, I drained off the light purple water, to find only a small stain remained. I whispered a prayer for victory.

Suddenly, Isaiah 1:18 came to mind….

“Come now let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

I stopped dead in my tracks, stunned.  I realized I had a precious opportunity to understand sin and forgiveness in a new way. You see, even more so than purple ink, scarlet dye has incredible sticking power.

Though your sins be as scarlet

To make the rich, expensive cloth, scarlet dye was double-dipped and long-soaked in order to saturate every thread.  Once this process was completed, scarlet dye was virtually impossible to remove.

Likewise, our sin soaks into the very fiber of our being, permanently noted in our brains and relayed into our chemistry.  I came into Christianity with generational sin stains, addictive tendencies, codependency and mounds of fear.

That fear would make me bend myself away from who God created me to be, to become what I thought other people wanted. Oh so scarlet.

As an accused soul, I’ve fought hard to accept God’s amazing grace—that he takes my deep scarlet sin and makes it white as snow.  I treasure that grace.

But straining to remove just one stain from one careless moment made me think of the power of sin’s stain.  Have I become complacent about forgiveness?

God’s gracious transfer

The Good News Translation of Isaiah 1:18 reads a little differently…

“You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool.”

We come to God with a deep, stubborn stain—one that is impossible to cleanse on our own.

“Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleaning power, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign Lord.”  Jeremiah 2:22

The only way I could get that stubborn stain out Dave’s jeans was to first release it, and then transfer it onto white, unstained cloths.

Likewise, God asks us to be immersed in water and washed in blood (Acts 22:16).  As we do, God releases the hold of the crimson dye and then transfers our stains onto his pure, unblemished son.

“Who is this coming from Edom…with his garments stained crimson? ‘It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.’”  Isaiah 63:1

But there’s even more.  If God simply removed the stain, we’d go out and get more. (When it comes to sin, we all carry broken pens in our pockets!)

As portrayed in Isaiah 1:18, God not only transfers the stain (making our souls white as snow), but also restores the fabric of our being to be more resilient to stains (white like wool).  This is the work of his indwelling Holy Spirit. (Hallelujah!)

Volumes and volumes of books have been filled with explanations of how God does this. It is not simple, nor easy. In fact, it cost him everything he held dear. Lord, does my daily life reflect this?

Taking it deeper…

 “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.”  Colossians 1:22

 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every stain of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1

 Jesus’ work on the cross has cleansed me perfectly, but it doesn’t free me from responsibility; rather it motivates me to actively reach for holiness. In his grace, God has provided some do’s and don’ts to help along the way.

Do keep far away from staining influences — Although you are called to love your neighbor, be extremely cautious of stains that may rub off on you (Jude 1:23). Keep yourself from being polluted by the world  (James 1:27).

Don’t forget that you need other people’s help — When you let others in, you can experience my cleansing power. Please don’t wait to talk about your sin until after you’ve “cleaned it up”  (James 5:16 Amplified).

Do take a strong hand on your own habitual sin — How many of your sins are double-dips or even daily-dips? How long do you “soak” in your selfishness?  Beware of soft addictions like gossip, shopping or media obsession, which give the evil one a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

Don’t let your sin fester longWhen you confess your sins to me and don’t try to hide, I will take your guilt away (Psalm 32:5).

Do humbly accept responsibility when you hurt others — Hurting others comes along with being human. When it happens, humble yourself and let me lift you up (James 4:10). Do everything in your power to live in peace with others. (Ephesians 4:3).

Seeking to keep unstained is part of a journey to a secure heart.

“Then can you lift up your face to Him without stain [of sin, and unashamed]; yes, you shall be steadfast and secure; you shall not fear.”  Job 11:15 (AMP)

 An epilogue

Now some of you are still wondering…did the stain come out of Dave’s jeans?  After that last soak, a healthy application of Shout, and a spin through the washing machine the stain is hardly noticeable (you’d have to look very closely).

Dave pronounced his jeans healed (Hallelujah!) and thanked me profusely, because by caring about his ink stains, I showed I cared about him.



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12 thoughts on “The Epic Stain: sin and the cleansing power of Jesus

  1. Did you write this for me? Just what I needed to read this morning. I have been spending my quiet times in the book of Isaiah. Thanks Robin you have such a way with words in how you express your self that speaks to my heart.

    • Thanks Adrianne! I love Isaiah and found other scriptures in the same vein that I didn’t share here. I love how the Spirit brings just what we need exactly when we need it.

  2. Robin,
    Thanks so much for sharing, this is so encouraging. I think the longer we are disciples the easier it is to become complacent about forgiveness. I love how you were determined to not give up on the stain, just as Jesus did not give up on the stains in our lives. We have to allow ourselves to be worked on from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the stain was transferred from one side to the other, or sin will do the same if we don’t start from the inside out. I hope this makessense.

  3. Robin, thank you for your realness. I am of the accused nature myself and have a hard time accepting God’s grace. I have to go back to the cross and what Jesus did for me. He cleansed me of my stains, many more seem to be bleeding through all through life. Keep up the great work and the sharing it really matters.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing the class. Am convicted by how often I dip into habitual sins . and therefore give the devil a foothold in my life. Just what I needed its time to repent for me

  5. This is so powerful.

    Today, I had to stay home from Church because I am sick. I have a cold, my body is filled with inflammation because I gave in to eating and drinking to many sugary foods and beverage. I am a sugar addict.
    I am also an Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach, and I have come to know my body very well.
    So after not even having read 3 paragraphs of your blog, I realized that God is leading me to see how I have no control over my sugar addiction, and that I have not surrendered it to him. I know what sugar does to my body, I preach to everyone around me how addictive it is (8 times more than recreational drugs). I see God’s grace and mercy in this. Understanding that I have the freedom to humble myself and cry out to my LORD and savior to rescue me from this trap that I have fallen in.
    Confessing is not so difficult for me, what is difficult is believing that I must surrender this part to God completely in order to heal and go straight to the root of my addiction. Many people around me are trapped with similar issues and are seeking answers. I have finally accepted the fact that it is all about letting God lead the way.
    There is power and freedom in Jesus.
    As tired as I am right now, I am hopeful that things are going to change from now on as long as I am completely transparent with God and with my support system, which is my family and sisters from my healing group.
    Thank you for sharing and for listening.
    With love,


  6. It’s so great how God reveals himself through accidents.

    For some reason it brought to mind how Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin when a mold contaminated his bacteria experiment. He could have just thrown out the experiment but he noticed how the bacteria weren’t growing around the mold. Ultimately, penicillin was discovered.

    You could have just dealt with the strain and home in your way, but you made a connection to God’s love and forgiveness. ❤️

  7. “God wants us to be immersed in water and washed in blood”, I love this! Thanks Robin for showing us vividly through the example with Dave’s jeans how stained we are and yet God is willing and ready to clean us up.

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