I live in south Minneapolis on a road that’s on a hill, which leads to a stoplight. With the recent rain/sleet/snownami, much of the road has turned into a skating rink for cars. For nearly a week, every few minutes during the day you could hear a car spinning its tires trying to get some traction up the hill. Because I recently went through John Owen’s Mortification of Sin, I saw a very close connection with these driver’s and how we go about killing sin (Romans 8:13).
Most drivers choose one of three options when trying to drive up an icy hill: Floor it, try to ease into it, or back up and turn around. Flooring it is like trying to use your own strength to overcome sin. While it looks like there could be progress, it’s simply a deception. This actually causes the ice to become more slippery and can also make your car drift sideways.
Trying to ease your way up the hill is similar to how we try to outsmart sin. This can look like progress, but actually holds up the cars behind you and takes so long that the light in front of you turns red and you have to try all over again.
Backing up is like giving up and giving in (not to mention it endangers the other cars around you). We can’t always flee sin because it is smarter then we are and will always find its way back to us.
Just like these options don’t work for the drivers, they’re also bad options for us when fighting sin. We need to know our enemy, study his playbook, dress for action, and put our confidence in the knowledge that we have the only thing that will actually give us the ability to effectively kill sin: the Holy Spirit.
The driver’s who are behind the person that’s stuck usually choose one of three options: Honk and be frustrated, go into the other lane and around, or watch what happens while thinking it won’t happen to them (then usually get stuck too). When we see a fellow brother/sister in temptation or sin and don’t come along side them to help, we are like one of these drivers.
If you’re the type to honk and get frustrated, you likely are annoyed by other peoples’ sins as they take away or hinder what you’re doing and what you want. This is a selfish response and is in no way related to the other-centeredness that Jesus displayed in his life, death, and resurrection.
The type of person who goes around the person who is stuck tends to be someone who has no care for that person or others connected to the situation since they are not only passing by that person up, but also putting other people in danger. This person has a one-track mind and only wants to go his or her own way. Isaiah 58:13-14 says those who choose this path don’t delight in the Lord.
As for those who see the struggles of others and disregard it, they tend to be arrogant and prideful. This is even prevalent among Christians. We can slip into the “holier than thou” mentality and believe that since we’re such an awesome Christian, we are above struggling like other people do. When we think this way, sin just found its foothold.
We need to get out of the car and help others up the hill. Excuses as to why we can’t help will come to mind quickly (and be very persuasive!) and fear of the unknown may debilitate us from doing anything.
However, remember that Jesus is our faithful high priest who was made like us to be able to help us in our need. Know that Jesus has not left us, but rather poured out his Spirit to believers as One who guides, equips, and empowers them to glorify Jesus. Consider that Jesus saw our great need for a savior and stepped out of the car to give us the push we needed to quit spinning our wheels.