“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).
A stray dog wandered into our yard this week, just a big old pup. She was so friendly, jumping and playing and following us around with delight. She looked the picture of health, not boney from hunger, no wounds or sores from disease. Her eyes were bright and she had a happy, smiling face. We tried to shoo her off, but she just made herself at home, curling up on our front porch and snoozing away the day. Every time one of us walked outside, she bounced up and ran circles around us – she was so happy to see us. When I walked past the front door, she looked up with excitement and delight. We knew we couldn’t keep her, we have a cat who has no love for dogs, and our home is too small for the big dog she will grow to be. But the more we tried to run her off, the more determined she was to stay. She thought our yelling and stomping at her was part of the game. Still, I waffled. She was so happy and friendly and my son had always wanted a dog, and, quite honestly, she was beginning to grow on me. I mean she obviously liked me. And was it really such a big deal that she chewed up my husband’s newspaper before he could read it? Was it so bad that she barked at every car that drove by – day and night? And, yes, my cat was terrified of her, but they would learn to get along wouldn’t they?
But then, she jumped on my neighbor. She harassed the little dog that was visiting next door. And she got under the house and knocked out a side panel trying to get out. Maybe it was not such a great idea to have her around after all. But she had really settled in here, and I didn’t know what would happen to her if I called animal control.
Then, we saw the blood on her fur – blood from some animal she had killed since she showed up in my yard. Now I knew, the stakes were higher and she would have to go. I had no other choice. I made the call, and asked animal control to come and pick her up.
Sin is a lot like that. Sin comes to us, delighted to see us, with bright eyes and a big, happy smile. Sin doesn’t present itself as unhealthy, rather sin is well-fed with nothing to indicate the disease that it carries. Sin is friendly. Sin laughs at our half-hearted attempts to shoo it away. We know that sin really doesn’t belong in our lives – but surely sin and our convictions can learn to get along can’t they? Besides, sin is happy with us; sin has made itself at home and is curled up peacefully on the front porch. Well, sure there are a few little red flags, but, you know – it’s kinda grown on you. We’ve come to like it, and frankly, we’re not sure we want to let go of it.
But then, sin starts to attack our relationships. Sin begins to pick off the good things in our lives. Sin begins to destroy the foundation of our lives, knocking out the moorings that have kept us firm in our faith.
And then, sin turns on us, and we see our own blood from the wounds that it has caused, as it sinks its teeth and claws into our flesh. Now, we see sin for what it is and for the damage it has caused. We are trapped and helpless.
Maybe you have done like me with this stray dog, and given sin an opportunity to make itself at home in your life. You should have cried out for help when it first appeared, but it was so deceptively happy and fun. It liked you and you found yourself liking it too. Now the stakes are much higher and the danger is real. And you can’t shoo it away.
There is only one choice – we must call on the One who can take away our sin and cleanse our wounds with His own blood. We must cry out to Jesus for his power to drive sin from us and his mercy and grace to heal us. You and I do not have to be held captive by sin, Jesus died to set us free. Don’t let sin sit on your front porch one more minute. Call the sin-control specialist and be free.
Jesus, I have played around with sin, I didn’t take it seriously at first, and now I’m held captive in its powerful jaws of death. Only You can help me now. Please come and set me free. Amen.
(Update: I told my son this morning that the dog had inspired me to write this devotional about how sin creeps into our lives, and he said, “maybe that’s why God send her here.” Not ten minutes after I posted this, animal control came and she went happily off to the pound.)