By Leonard Lauriault: Religion columnist
Most people get the heebie jeebies whenever lice are mentioned, especially if they have children in school.
Lousiness is common in cattle, particularly during winter and this past winter, I got to help treat some cattle for lice.
During the process, a lice-control product was applied down the center of the animals’ backs through a sort of squirt gun. That’s called a “pour-on” because of how it was originally done.
Another method of controlling external parasites, like lice, is by dipping. This is done by forcing the animals to jump into a pool of treatment from which they can walk out the other side.
As I watched the application of the pour-on this past winter, it occurred to me that God also applies his cure for our lousiness (sin — an external parasite that causes internal damage that can eventually become eternal) through a sort of pour-on.
Under Jewish law, whenever sin was committed, whether by a religious or civil leader, an individual, or the whole community, an animal was to be killed and most of its blood was to be poured onto the ground at the base of the altar to make atonement (Leviticus 4: 1-35; Hebrews 9: 22).
Jesus’ death on the cross completely satisfied (fulfilled) God’s law regarding the Jewish rituals associated with sin and sacrifice (Hebrews 9: 11-15, 24-28; 10: 1-4).
Jesus’ blood wasn’t merely poured out on the ground (Matthew 26: 28). It was poured out to be applied to us for cleansing (1 John 1: 5-10). And then, while the blood is sprinkled on our heart, we’re to be completely dipped in water — baptized — to symbolize being dipped in the blood for a full body cleansing (Hebrews 10: 22; 1 Peter 3: 21; John 13: 1-10; Acts 22: 16).
While baptism is not forced, it is commanded as the means to initially receive forgiveness (Acts 2: 38, 39; John 14: 15-21). No other means is available to receive forgiveness anymore.
Through baptism, we share in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and offer ourselves as living sacrifices as we come into contact with his cleansing blood (Romans 6: 3-11; 12: 1, 2).
As with Jesus’ death we only need to do this once. Although we will continue to sin and must confess those to God for forgiveness, we’ve had the bath and need only to cleanse the parts that got dirty (OK, for me that continues to be a whole body thing just about every day).
This is why we must continue to put to death the misdeeds of the body by the Spirit who is a gift to us from God when we are baptized (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Colossians 2: 11-14; 3: 1-11; Romans 8: 9-14).
The guilt of sin can cause our skin to crawl (the thought of sin should give us the heebie jeebies). Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power on his terms? That’s the only available cure for our lousiness.