Three months ago, I sprained my ankle badly. I tried to make a more athletic catch than I am really capable of making. The result was not being able to walk for a few days. I went easy on it for a few more days, and it kept feeling better. Well enough, I felt, to play basketball on it less than two weeks after injuring. Bad idea.
All it took was one time coming down a little hard and there I was again, unable to walk. Still, I rested it, stubbornly not making an appointment to see a doctor. I didn’t want to entertain the possibility of a break or ligament tear that would keep me off my feet for too long. I wanted to be back playing sports and running around.
Fast-forward three months later, and I’m sitting here writing this with an immobilizing walking boot on my foot. The same foot I injured. After feeling better long enough for me to regain some confidence, the pain returned with more consistency than before. This time I knew I had no option but to see a doctor.
I had completely torn a ligament; a serious injury, and I did nothing about it for far too long. I now have to suffer the consequences of that, likely having some level of discomfort from this point on.
This is often the same approach we take towards battling sin. We recognize that it is dangerous, but we don’t tackle it head on. Romans 8:13 says:
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
As we spend time down-playing how serious it can become when left unchecked. It festers inside of us, consuming our thoughts and affecting our relationships with others. John Owen, in “The Mortification of Sin,” wrote, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
For the Christian, there is no third option. There is no pause, no neutral, no cease fire from the war against sin. We are either gaining ground on the enemy or we are losing strategic strongholds.
The longer we continue to view sin as a slow-healing injury, or something that will work itself out overtime, the more danger we put ourselves in and the more damage we open ourselves up. Had I gone to the orthopedic right after my injury, there’s almost zero likelihood of the pain ever setting in and becoming chronic, as it has begun to do.
Here’s the beautiful part of all this. Romans 2:14-17 follows up, saying:
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
We are heirs with Christ and sons of the Most High God. We can cry out to our Father anytime for help, and, without fail, He will be there. That isn’t to say that the effects of sin won’t have lingering effects or permanent damage. Like a torn ligament that hasn’t healed properly, it will, but we’ve got the best doctor in the world and His rehab is free (which has new meaning now that I’m realizing how expensive that can really be.)
The sooner we treat our sin like the killer it is instead of accepting its harmless masquerades, the less power it has over our lives. Throw off temptation, arm yourself with the Word of God, gird up your loins with the Armor of God and surround yourself with a Christ-centered community that is doing likewise. Make war!