About 35 years ago, the world was rocked by the murders of five American missionaries in the jungles of Ecuador. It was front-page news everywhere, and even major photo coverage in Life magazine. A young man named Jim Elliot and four other young men had gone to minister to the Auca Indians, a group of people who were about to kill each other off in their hostility. One scientist called this tribe the worst people on earth.
Those five young missionaries were martyred, but as a result, the Gospel did get through. Today, virtually that whole tribe knows Christ. It is partly due to the efforts of the missionaries' widows and especially through a sister of one the martyrs, Rachel Saint. She faced the typical difficulties of trying to translate the Scriptures into another language, but she quickly came across a major problem. The Auca language doesn't have a word for forgive. They didn't ever forgive anyone. If there was a problem, they just typically killed the person. Well, Rachel Saint found a word to describe it - washed.
1 Corinthians 6:9 in God's Word says, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
There was an interview with some of the Auca men who murdered those missionaries. Today they are serving Christ, and one of them is a native pastor. He said, "We did a terrible thing when we murdered those missionaries, but we know that God has washed our hearts." That's how the missionary finally found a way to say the word forgive to a culture that had never heard of the word? They had their hearts "washed." Hearts that were once dirty, now have been washed and are finally clean!
Maybe you're ready for that cleansing today because you're carrying the weight of guilt for failing your Lord, for going much further sexually then you ever thought you would go, for a habit that has ruled you for too long, for someone that you've hurt, or for a pattern of lying that continues to haunt you. Maybe you know how it feels to be dirty; you have never felt so dirty in your life.
Maybe you need the feeling of clean that God has promised to you. Jesus Christ keeps sin in the past and can make you clean right now. Today, step into God's cleansing shower called forgiveness. When Jesus said, "Father forgive them" on the cross, He was forgiving what you have done. When He said, "It is finished," He meant the bill for your sin is paid in full. When He said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" it was so you don't have to be forsaken. Leave your sin at His cross. If you will trust Him as your personal Savior, He will stamp "forgiven" on your sin. Forgiveness is a new beginning. As the murderers learned so beautifully, when you're forgiven, your heart is washed. You aren't dirty anymore. You're finally clean!