I once used this song as part of a talk to a bunch of college men about sex. It’s a song about sin and the hold it can have on us, no matter how slight it might seem at first. Perhaps sin “barely bit me,” but like a poison, a little is all it takes. Its effects linger. And it always finds a way to attack even the best of us. It finds a way to “make the saints obey.”
Often we can’t decide if we want freedom or not. We desperately desire it when guilt and shame set in, but often turn away again the next time temptation arises. Sometimes to the point that we feel we can’t go back. As Right Away, Great Captain! puts it, “The path appropriate is no longer in the way.”
My favorite line is, “The Serpent’s Garden overgrown in me.” That’s what sin is. Satan takes something good – something like the Garden of Eden, or sex, or relationships, or food, or whatever – he takes that and tells us that we need more of it. The lie is that God’s intention for that thing isn’t the best way for us to enjoy it. And we buy in.
But thank God it doesn’t stop there. We have a savior on the cross. For the longest time, I had no idea what the last line of this song meant. “One of the men on the cross was allowed to come down.” Was it Christ, who could have chosen to exercise His power as God? I don’t think that’s it. But the other two men were allowed to come down metaphorically. The one on the left mocked Jesus with the crowd. He could “come down” in the sense that the world accepted him and in the sense that he gave into his sin. But ultimately, he was damned. The one on the right, however, accepted Jesus, and though he died, he was saved, and his sin was covered, because he rejected it.
Which one are you?
Measure of Music is a recurring blog where we examine the deeper meaning of song. We don’t believe that music needs labels like “Christian” or “Secular”; all art can be beautiful, and all art can point to the Author of beauty. Proverbs 24:32 says, “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” This is what we seek to do with Measure of Music: As we uncover the truths expressed in music we uncover truths about God.