Do you want to enter life? Take it violently. Cut off your hand or your foot if you must to keep from stumbling. It’s a picture of the most radical kind of assault on our own sin. Not the sins of others — our sins.
Lay that on top of Romans 8:13: “If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Do you want to enter into life? Do you want to live? Get violent. Get a wartime mindset. Stop making peace with ears and eyes and tongues and hands and feet that betray you like Judas, and go over to the side of the enemy and become instruments of sin and make war on your soul. Put to death the deeds of your body.
The Violent Warfare of the Christian Life
Ed Welch, in preparation for his book called A Banquet in the Grave said,
there is a mean streak to authentic self-control. . . Self-control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin. . . . The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war. . . . There is something about war that sharpens the senses . . . You hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger. Even after days of little or no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.
There is a mean, violent streak in the true Christian life! But violence against whom, or what? Not other people. It’s a violence against all the impulses in us that would be violent to other people. It’s a violence against all the impulses in our own selves that would make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It’s a violence against all lust in ourselves, and enslaving desires for food or caffeine or sugar or chocolate or alcohol or pornography or money or the praise of men and the approval of others or power or fame. It’s violence against the impulses in our own soul toward racism and sluggish indifference to injustice and poverty and abortion.
Christianity is not a settle-in-and-live-at-peace-with-this-world-the-way-it-is kind of religion. If by the Spirit you kill the deeds of your own body, you will live. Christianity is war — on our own sinful impulses.
So let’s work on this a little bit more this morning. I said there were three questions two weeks ago that we did not get to.
- What are “the deeds of the body” that we are to put to death?
- What does killing them mean? What is this putting to death?
- How do you do it “by the Spirit”? What does “by the Spirit” mean?