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The Strong Substance

I’m nearly done with Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon, a fascinating look at the formation of the Periodic Table. Early in the book (p22) he describes that when you mix antinomy pentafluouride with hydrochloric acid, you create a substance of pH -31, namely a super acid which is 10,000 billion billion billion times more potent than stomach acid (which has a pH of 1). The humble glass beaker of course, can be no home for this substance, since it eats through glass like paper. That’s strong!

But if only it was strong enough to cut through our mistakes and dissolve our regrets and remove our sins. Mixing chemicals with sin, you remember, has been tried before, and has been found wanting. The experiment is recorded in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the person on that occasion urged on the experiment with the words, “Out, damn’d spot!” But to no avail.

When it comes to removing guilty stains, there is only one substance that is strong enough. In fact, potent enough to remove even our biggest sins and most heinous personal crimes. “The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin”, says the Bible (1 John 1:7). That’s strong! That’s off the pH scale! And the mystery is, that it was contained not in Teflon-lined tubes in some super-robot, but in the veins of a Man who loved sinners enough to make the donation.

DM August 2012

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