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Invisible poison—you need the cure
Katie Augustine
by Katie Augustine
September 18, 2023

I had one of the worst days of my life recently when I took my baby in for his one-year-old checkup and found out he had elevated levels of lead in his blood.

After I hung up with the nurse who told me the news, I went straight to Dr. Google. What I found only made me feel worse. Phrases like “lead poisoning is irreversible” and “no safe blood level in children has been identified” made me feel so ashamed. We had recently moved into an old home, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to deep clean with four young children around. My priority quickly became scouring every surface of our house and finding where the lead paint was so we could remove it and make our home safe for our children.

As I spent the next weeks scrubbing every cobwebby corner and dusty baseboard in our house, I realized everything was dirtier than I previously perceived. The walls looked fine—but when I wiped them down, my rag would come away black. It was disgusting! And no matter how hard I tried to keep the floor clean of paint chip debris around our flaking window ledges, I would turn around and see another speck on the floor.

It was maddening. It was disheartening. It felt like our house was infected with invisible poison, and I could never clean it all up myself. In this sad state as I cleaned, I started recognizing the ways that lead paint is like our sin.

Both lead paint and sin are delicious.

This was a surprise to me; my research showed that paint chips have a sweet taste, which is why it’s hard to make children stop eating them. Sin is much the same way. It’s awful to admit, but aren’t some sins “fun”? It can feel great to be part of the juicy gossip, watch that video you shouldn’t, or overindulge. If sin feels “good,” why stop?

The reason is that sin poisons our souls. Just like lead, the more we are exposed to sin the worse it is for us. Repeated, willful sinning dulls our consciences and leads us far away from the love of God. We can look fine on the outside, but our souls are blackened with the repugnant stain of sin.

There is no cure for lead exposure—or for sin.

There is no pill that will remove lead from our bodies. Once it is in you, it is in you forever. In the same way, Psalm 51:5 says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Sin has been in us since the moment we came to be; there is no amount of penance or good behavior on our part that can get sin out of our lives. Without Jesus, there is no cure.

You can’t get rid of lead paint or sin by yourself.

The only way to eliminate lead paint from your home completely and safely is to hire a lead abatement company to remove the offending material. You need outside help! While we might try our hardest to be good people as we go about our daily lives, we will still sin every day. Self-control alone will never be enough. Even when we think we are doing pretty good in the eyes of God, there will always be a speck of sin hiding somewhere in our lives.

Thanks to our Savior Jesus, we do not have to clean up all our sin on our own! He swooped into history like a superhero and saved us from our sinfulness through his perfect life and innocent suffering and death in our place. As Jesus says in one of the most comforting chapters of the Bible: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John:18,19). Though we are full of sin, we are loved and forgiven by God, and we will get to live with him forever in heaven when we die. Though we want to live good lives to show our thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, earning our way to heaven is not on our shoulders. We have received the best outside help. What a relief!

In this trial I have found ways to praise God. I praise God that we found out about the lead paint five weeks after we moved in instead of after five months. I praise God that my son’s level is low, barely over the detectable threshold. I praise God for teaching me the valuable lesson about the insidiousness of sin and how to rely on Jesus for my salvation (and for my house situation!) instead of myself.

When it comes to sin, I urge you to treat it just like you would lead paint—stay away from it and call on Jesus to remediate it from your life! Sin is the invisible poison we can never clean up ourselves, but praise be to God that he has washed us clean, once and for all, and not a speck remains!