By Mark+ Walz
Sin can get so deep and buried in our lives that it can feel like a weed that is difficult to root up. And once it is rooted up, you know its going to take a bunch of dirt and good stuff up with it. It is hard to do and once done, it makes a mess of things before it gets better.
To compound the issue, much of our conversation about sin is more about sin management than it is about sin removal — becoming more obedient, more Christ-like. Or as Dallas Willard called it, a “transformation of life and character.” We like talking about being forgiven and being right with God, but what about living right? It is not just that rooting sin out of our lives is hard and quite messy, it is also that we are supposed to do it! We are not supposed to allow these things to settle in and remain. Try as I might, I keep running across these verses in my Bible about obedience.
So let’s address first the difficulty of removing sin.
How hard is it really? Well, I imagine for the non-Christian it is quite difficult; one might say ‘impossible’. This sure seems to be how the Bible talks about it. It says that people are slaves when they don’t know Christ or have the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’” (John 8:24)
All this reminds me of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” where he is describing Gollum’s descent into sinful darkness.
“Even Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of the Wise would have guessed — as a hobbit might. There was a little corner of his mind that was still his own, and light came through it, as through a chink in the dark: light out of the past. It was actually pleasant, I think, to hear a kindly voice again, bringing up memories of wind, and trees, and sun on the grass, and such forgotten things. But that, of course, would only make the evil part of him angrier in the end — unless it could be conquered. Unless it could be cured.”
I underlined that last part because it parallels our real understanding of sin as taught in the Bible. Once we are a slave, we have to be freed; and there is no possibility of freeing ourselves. This comes from God. Our freedom from sin comes from Him and His plan. If we believe that, and I suspect if you’re reading this you do, then how is it we believe it with our salvation and forgiveness but shy away from it with respect to the “transformation of life and character?” Do you see the disconnect? I think it plain that as we receive grace to be freed from sin in the first place, that we continue to seek grace to be freed and remain free!
Think how easily the author of Hebrews writes these words:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1)
Just lay it aside. Easy as that! How?! Because you have been freed from it. You are no longer shackled. So if it feels like sin has rooted itself down deep, ask for the grace to have it ripped out. It will come out easily then. Well maybe ‘easily’ is a step too far, I mean easily relative to those who have no power to get rid of sin. Remember, it is impossible for them. But for you and me? Have we dared to ask? I invite you to ask. Go ahead, ask our gracious Father to root out the weed and begin the work of living a transformed life and character. Join me, will you? I am going to do that right now with a couple of things.