Over the past couple weeks my wife and I have been working to potty train our daughter, who thankfully is doing very well! Allow me to explain how this training process reminds me of sin, the law, relationships and how the heart chooses behavior.
From birth, a child's primary focus is eating. If an infant could think and express his or her simple thoughts it would most likely be something along the lines of "Food. In." The result of this consumption is waste, but the child has little to no knowledge of their smelly byproduct. The unpleasant smell reminds me of the law which communicates "There is a sin problem, and the problem stinks." Romans 7:7 is clear that the law brings knowledge of sin. The smell and the law help us be aware that there is a problem that needs addressed.
As a parent, you're really hoping this awareness kicks in when you stop putting diapers on your toddler. The scent and substance that the diaper used to cover and contain is now all over the floor and you hope is that the child recognizes that this is not good. The removal of the diaper reminds me of Leviticus 5:14-19 where The Lord discusses unintentional and ignorant sin and specifically the point when the sin is known to the sinner. An unintentional or ignorant mess is still a problem and must be addressed after there is awareness of the issue.
At this point a good parent (who is made to represent God to the child) very simply communicates "It's not easy, but you need to grow because you cannot remain in diapers indefinitely. I am unwilling to hold you close to myself because of your stink. Resolve your mess so that you can be in close proximity with me again." Potty training and ceasing from sin are both about a relationship. Through their actions the child needs to communicate "Daddy, I care about you and our relationship so much, that I am willing to deal with my waste so that we can be close again."
But, we have come to what I believe is the most tricky part of the process — the choice. The child is a little person and has a level of freedom to choose their actions. Their choice is basically some form of either "Do I want to grow and resolve my mess so that I can be close to my parents again?" or "I like how things are now. I'm not interested in confronting my stinky problem. I refuse to change."
In Leviticus 11:44 The Lord says
"I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy."
When He says this, He is communicating 'I will only allow you to be around Me if you don't stink' just like I communicate to my child 'you're not coming over here and snuggling up to me until you stop being a baby and wash. I won't have you smear your "you know what" on me. Grow and wash up so that we can be close again!'
So, to recap:
- The stink represents sin.
The law is like the removal of the diaper which reveals there is a gross problem that must be addressed.
A messy, stinky child held at arm's length reminds us how sin separates us from The Holy God.
- The child's reaction to the parent's instruction is the manifestation of the child's choice which is comes from their little heart.
Like God, good parents want the problem to be resolved and removed so that sweet fellowship can resume!
So today, if we're ignorant of sin, we can ask The Holy Spirit to reveal our smell. If we've already sinned, we must stop, ask our Savior to help wash the stain away and not continue in fleshly behavior. And if there is no sin, then we simply get to enjoy The Father's presence!
Is there a mess stopping you from being closer to your Heavenly Father today? If so, forsake it and draw closer to Him now!
Additional Verses: Genesis 3:6-14, Genesis 3:21-24, Numbers 15:27-31, Psalm 139:23-24, 1 John 3:7-10 and Revelation 22:14-15