If you’ve ever experienced accidentally breathing in water – maybe while swimming – you know how violently the body reacts to get rid of the water so it can get the air it needs to survive. It is a frightening experience to realize how powerless and helpless we are as water-breathers.
It is similar to how we should react to breathing in sin: violently rejecting it and gasping for purity. But that’s not what we usually do, is it? We often sit with our sin, adjusting to it, nurturing it. Like the story of the frog in a pot on the stove, while the temperature continues to get hotter over a period of time, we become accustomed to it instead of jumping out before we are cooked to death.
So it is with our unrepented sin. Hoping for the best, while setting ourselves up for the worst.
In the classic movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail there are many memorable characters and lines in the movie (“Now go away or I shall taunt thee a second time!”) If you have seen it, you surely remember the Black Knight who defies King Arthur on the quest to find the Holy Grail.
The Black Knight denies King Arthur to pass by him, which sets up a goofy sword fight. First Arthur slices off one of the Black Knight’s arms, to which he replies, “’Tis but a scratch!”. Then Arthur slices off another one of his arms, and the knight declares, “It’s just a flesh wound!”. As the Black Knight attempts to kick Arthur (since he has no arms), he is relieved of one of his legs, saying “I’m invincible!”. Finally King Arthur is annoyed by the Black Knight’s denial and defiance, and uses his sword to remove the knight’s remaining leg. As King Arthur walks away, the Black Knight – with no arms or legs – softens a bit, saying “All right, we’ll call it a draw.”
The consequences of our sin may seem “manageable”, like the Black Knight’s denial of his deteriorating physical condition. In the early stage of sin, it may feel like just a flesh wound. But sin will cost us everything if it is allowed to run its course.
We have been, at some point in the past, as delusional as the Black Knight. Thoughts or statements like “I’m not as bad as that guy”, or “At least I’ve never done that”, or “I am a good person”, reveal the state of our heart: we do not realize how perilous our situation truly is.
The consequence of sin is death: death of conscience, of relationships, of peace, of hope, of joy, of body, and – finally – eternal death of the soul.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our Father knows how sin destroys us, how it obscures our view of Him, how it skews our perspectives, how it corrupts our ability to enjoy the good things He has given. He knows we are unable to see the effects of sin until it is too late, and how we are prone to accept cheap gaudy imitations instead of looking to Him for His best.
The criteria to be with God is 100% perfection – complete purity and total obedience – and none of us have managed to hit that mark and stay there. We are helpless in our battles with sin.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is able to free us from our sin. It is the antidote to our terminal spiritual condition. But it is more than that, for it is also the same power that raises us from the dead. We are brought back to life from addictions, from selfishly using other people, from believing everything revolves around us. We who have met the Risen One and believe that He alone can save us, receive abundance of life. Overflowing life. Our mortal bodies can barely contain it sometimes.
This is a safe place, in the shadow of our Father’s protection and love, so let’s be honest: our sin is not just a flesh wound. It is the spiritual cancer that is trying to steal and kill in every conceivable way. If we see our sin rightly, we will humbly and gratefully repent and find forgiveness and joy and deep intimacy with God.