Why do they come from all over the world? To bathe in the water at the meeting point of three rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Sarasvati. Considering that the Ganges River is one of the top five most polluted rivers on the planet, it is a little odd that anyone would wash in its waters, for any reason. Dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, and severe diarrhea – one of the leading causes of death among children in India – can all be contracted from the river.
We have to ask “why do they do this?” Millions and millions of people come from all over the world to bathe in one of the dirtiest rivers in the world–for forgiveness of sins. Hindus seek ultimate cleansing from one of the filthiest places in the world.
While this baffles me, I have to admit that sometimes I have tried to obtain forgiveness for my sins, not by bathing in polluted water, but by depending on my own goodness. I like to think that I'm a pretty good guy (don't we all like to think that of ourselves?), so nothing I do can really be considered “bad.” Right?
But that is not what the Bible says. Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us “There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.” “No righteous man” means that not even the righteous are innocent of sin. We are all guilty. Proverbs 20:9 asks “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin’? The answer is understood to be “not a single person on earth can say that.”
To further make the case, Isaiah 64:6 tells us, “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.” Even our very best is not, and cannot, be good enough to bring forgiveness of sins.
Because every sin is an offense to God, the Bible also tells us that there are consequences of our sin. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sin separates us from God, and no amount of good works or bathing in a river will change that. And if not forgiven or paid for, sin can have an eternal consequence as well: “For the wages of sin is death,” we read in Romans 6:23, and that’s eternal death.
So what is the solution? Ephesians 1:7 gives us the answer: “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Having never sinned, Jesus was the only One Who could pay the penalty required. As the hymn says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Bathing in a polluted river doesn't help, but neither does going to church, being baptized, or being a good person. Only Jesus can give us forgiveness.
Nothing else. No one else.
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com