In my two previous posts I discussed seemingly innocent things that may in fact prove deadly, at least for some of us. First I asked Is your TV killing you? in an effort to interact with some things said by John Piper. There was some good discussion in the comments, and I followed that with another question: Is the internet killing you?
In reality I could do an almost endless series with similar titles, because there are an almost endless number of things, good and bad, that wage war on our souls. This a battle that won’t be won without effort. This post is about fighting back.
“Be killing sin, or it will be killing you” said the English Puritan John Owen. He saw clearly from Romans 8:13 that those were our only two options. Either we kill sin, or sin kills us. That’s a sobering thought. I cannot even begin in this short post to give that subject the treatment it needs. The one thing I want to be clear about, though, is that Owen knew that “there is no death of sin without the death of Christ.” Apart from the gospel all attempts to put sin to death are futile and destined to fail.
I encourage you to read this book excerpt to learn a little more about John Owen and his insight into overcoming sin and temptation. There are very few books written today that rival Puritan teaching on the subject.
The real problem, of course, is not the television or the internet. Neither are inherently evil. The real problem lies in our own hearts, and in our guilty obsession with everything except the Lord of Glory. John Calvin rightly called the human heart “a perpetual factory of idols” (Institutes 1.11.8)
However, in order to deal with the real problem which lies in our own hearts, we sometimes have to take radical action. So I want to ask one more question., and I ask it of myself as much as I do of you. Are we willing to take whatever drastic measures are necessary to destroy our idols and to kill whatever it is that’s killing us? That, surely, is the point of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:29-30.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Jesus puts things in perspective for us. What’s losing a member or two compared to losing our soul? Severing our idolatrous love affair with TV or surfing the web (or whatever else it is that’s killing you or me) is a small price to pay for preserving our souls.
“Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Owen’s admonition has the bracing effect of a good slap in the face. And sometimes a good slap in the face is just what I need.