Two summers ago, I was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., for Campus Outreach’s Summer Beach Project (I think I’ve mentioned this before). One day, I was taking a shower in my room when I turned around and there was a cockroach on the wall of the shower.
Quick note about me: I hate bugs. With an undying passion that will last until Jesus comes back. I almost posted a picture of a cockroach, but I didn’t even like looking at the picture, so it stayed in its place in cyberspace.
Anyways, I quickly freaked out (may or may not have audibly expressed my fear) and looked around for something to kill the roach. I can’t remember how I killed it, or if I even did. But somehow it got away or got smashed and I was able to shower in peace. A couple days later after I got over the fear.
About a week later, my roommate Matthew P. and I were sitting in the room chatting when a cockroach appeared on the wall. I picked up a nearby shoe and beat the thing to death with no hesitation this time. See, I had faced Herr Roach before and had kicked his tail, er, smashed it.
Puritan theologian John Owen is famous for saying: “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
It was quite shocking how true that statement was when I first thought about it, but it shouldn’t be. The Scriptures are littered with texts on the danger of sin, the killing properties of sin in the life of a believer and a non-believer.
If only I consistently tackled sin the way I tackled that cockroach.
Do we seriously seek to kill our sin? I think some people do. I think some people don’t. I think some people, like me, fall into both categories daily. Sometimes I seek to kill the sin I notice in my life, sometimes I let it go because I think one of two things: “It’s not that bad” or “I want to sin.”
Yeah, there are many times I say to myself, “I’m going to do this even though it’s sinning, even though it’s not representing God well at all.”
It’s bad, huh? It’s part of our sinful nature, part of our life as humans that we seek to do things that are contrary to the Word of God, even when we really don’t want to. Paul expressed this frustration in Romans 7:21-25:
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
I feel like I often find myself in the same situation as my brother in the faith Paul. I hate my sin, but I often give into it.
I realized this recently in my life, that I wasn’t as serious about killing my sin as I should be. The Bible is the life-giving Word of God, “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), so I turned to it, specifically Ephesians 6:10-18a.
It’s a passage commonly known as the “armor of God” passage. Here is the passage in its full:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…
Over the next few posts, I endeavor to break down that passage in the hopes of finding the key to killing sin in the life of a believer. Disclaimer: I am not perfect and will never claim to be. If in fact you catch me doing that, call me on it right away. But this is a passage that has revolutionized how I fight sin in my life, and I want to share the Word of God with anyone who reads this.
Centrally, the focus is on the Gospel. We cannot fight sin without an intricate knowledge and belief of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You’ll see that throughout the posts to follow.