Sin, crabgrass, and repentance (Luke 3:8)

If you have ever been a homeowner in the south, then you are acquainted with crabgrass. Crabgrass is the bane of the person who would have “the yard of the month.” The threat of this ugly grass requires the landscaper to enter into the fray and attempt to exterminate the green demon. This post is about the analogy that exists between crabgrass and persistent sin in the life of the believer.

DEALING WITH CRABGRASS

There are a number of steps in the campaign against crabgrass that can help the homeowner keep the brute at bay, but these steps must be accompanied by an acknowledgement that this will be a war, not a short skirmish or a single battle. Crabgrass is persistent and difficult to kill, and the homeowner who would engage in this combat must be committed to the full campaign.

The first step in the war against crabgrass is recognizing what crabgrass looks like and that its appearance represents a call to arms. The lawn-owner must become an expert at spotting crabgrass and become savvy to all its disguises and hiding places. Once sighted, it is all hands-on deck. There is an enemy within the gates, and you must respond to the invasion.

The next step is to develop a conscious hatred for the infernal weed. Crabgrass must be detested and seen as only and purely evil and the enemy of your lawn. In your mind there is nothing pleasant or appealing about this diabolical plant. If it is not destroyed, it will destroy your lawn. This mindset of hatred of all things crabgrass motivates action.

Having recognized what crabgrass looks like and being armed with a hatred of it, the homeowner’s task now becomes clear: crabgrass must be killed wherever it is found. There is no compromise, no middle ground, no terms of peace, no room for reconciliation. Crabgrass is the avowed enemy, and the only possible objective is to put it to death so that the lawn can be rid of the hated infestation and restored to its lush innocence.

DEALING WITH INDWELLING SIN

Although there are some landscapers who would disagree with me, eliminating crabgrass from your lawn is not a life-and-death struggle and if, after a valiant effort, there was still spots of the weed in your yard, life would still go on. It is not a big deal.

But indwelling sin in the life of the believer is a big deal. In fact, it is at precisely the point when we start talking about persistent sin that all humor leaves the conversation. This IS a life-and-death struggle. The believer is called to holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 6:2, 15; Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 1 John 2:3-6) as evidence of their conversion, and without sanctification, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). But while the seriousness of crabgrass is insignificant compared to indwelling sin, the methods of warfare are similar.

Realize that the battle against indwelling sin is a war, not a skirmish. You will be engaged in this conflict as long as you are in the flesh, and the enemy never rests. But “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).”

For this warfare, you will need to recognize sin when it appears. You will need to be familiar with all sin’s disguises and hiding places. To do that, you will need to become familiar with your Bible and with all that the Bible tells you about this enemy called sin. Know that there are no small sins or minor sins, no forgettable sins and no acceptable sins. Every sin that every believer ever committed nailed Jesus to the cross. Every sin, if it were the only sin, would have required the death of Jesus. Therefore, we must recognize every sin so that we can kill it. You cannot confess or repent of the unrecognized sin.

You should possess an active, conscious hatred of all sin. All sin must be detested and seen as only and purely evil and the enemy of your soul. In your mind there is nothing pleasant or appealing about even the most minor sin. If sin is not destroyed, it will destroy you. Sin seeks to make a shipwreck of your life. Sin has brought unimaginable suffering and ruin into the world and sin seeks to destroy your life. Remember Cain who refused to be warned when sin was crouching at his door. Sin is the devil’s primary weapon, and sin’s commission gives him pleasure. So, take his weapons away from him! To see sin is to hate sin, and this mindset of hatred of all things sinful motivates action.

Having recognized what sin looks like and being armed with a holy hatred of it, the disciple’s task now becomes clear: sin must be killed wherever it is found. There is no compromise, no middle ground, no terms of peace, no room for reconciliation. Sin is the avowed enemy of every believer, and the only possible objective is to put it to death so that the disciple can walk in a manner worthy of their calling.

WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE

And what action are we to take?

Confession is the identification of sin and the acknowledgement that this sin is evil. Confession serves the function of identifying the enemy and aiming the artillery at the target. While confession is necessary, simply identifying the enemy and aiming the weapon does not accomplish the task. The aimed weapon must be fired.

Firing the weapon so as to destroy sin is called repentance. The disciple of Jesus who would have victory over sin must regularly fire the guns of repentance. Until you resolve to destroy sin through regular acts of repentance, you are probably not serious about holiness.

Put sin to death, as Paul says in Colossians 3:5. In daily prayer, actively attack the sinful behavior. Develop a loathing for the very idea of these activities. If there are memories of this sin from the past, bring them to the light and put those memories to death (Ephesians 5:12). See them as offensive to God and His holiness. Be repulsed by your former sins (1 Peter 4:3).

Find Scriptures which address your specific besetting sins and read them and meditate on them regularly. At the same time, find Scriptures that extol holy behavior and develop a holy affection for godly behavior. Meditate on holiness and purity. Find Scriptures which extol the holy opposite of your besetting sins. If you are battling pride, meditate on humility and on being of the same mind with one another. If you are an angry man, meditate on the fruit of the Spirit of peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Confess your indwelling sins to a trusted friend and then pray together about the sin. Confess them to the Lord in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse you and purify you. Express in prayer your hatred of the sinful behavior and your desire to be holy.

Meditate on psalms of repentance like Psalm 51 and Psalm 32. Engage in daily repentance until the grip of sin has relaxed its stranglehold.

Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.

SDG                 rmb                 5/20/2021

David’s Repentance (Psalm 51)

How is a disciple of the Lord Jesus to rid himself of besetting sin?

As a disciple grows in their walk with the Lord, it is certain that sin will emerge from the murky depths of the soul. The pure milk of the Word begins to soak into the recesses of the mind and into the closets of the past, and loathsome sins well up from the depths. Until we come to faith in the Lord Jesus and come face to face with His holiness, we have no concept of the ugliness of our sin. If Isaiah the prophet felt himself ruined when he saw the thrice holy Lord, lofty and exalted, and declared himself a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6), how much more should we expect to need to dredge the black mold of sin out our lives!

But once the sin is uncovered and identified, how do we get rid of it?

Before we get too far along this article, I need to make clear that, in this article, I am not talking about the way for sin to be forgiven. No amount of confession or repentance will ever result in one sin being forgiven. Offering “thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil (Micah 6:7)” will give the Lord no delight and will leave you exactly where you were before the offering. There has always been only one way for any sin to ever be forgiven. “In Him (Jesus), we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ephesians 1:7).” It is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that is the only means of forgiveness of sins. Do you want to be forgiven of your sins? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).” If you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are following Him in faith, all your sins are forgiven. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has the LORD removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).” “The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).”

But for the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ who has come to faith in Christ and has thus had his sins forgiven, there arises the matter of practical righteousness. Through faith, my sins are forgiven, but the ugly effects remain. As the Holy Spirit reveals sin in my life, and as I begin to recognize and identify and confess my sins before the Lord, the question becomes, “How do I remove the remaining sin?” This is what repentance is for. Repentance is the most powerful weapon in the disciple’s arsenal for removing the filthy remains of sin, but for repentance to be effective, it must be genuine. How do I know if my repentance is genuine? You know you have truly repented when the sin ceases. True repentance results in victory over sin. Colossians 3:5 tells me to “put to death whatever is in the earth of your members: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed.” How do you know if you have put sin to death? It is no longer active. It no longer moves. There are no signs of life. Repentance is the blade that puts sin to death. If the sin remains active, you have not yet truly raised the blade of repentance.

King David was a man after God’s own heart. His passion and zeal for the LORD explode from the psalms which he wrote. The LORD was with David and he rose in power and conquered all the neighboring kingdoms. There seemed to be nothing that David would not accomplish. But David was also very human, and he had some prominent areas of weakness. David was a man who seemed to have a weakness for the fair sex. When he was king in Hebron, he had six sons by six different wives. Then when he moved to Jerusalem, David added more wives and concubines. And finally, there was the disastrous one-night stand with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Through the prophet Nathan, the LORD confronted David and told him that there would be consequences for his sin and his rebellion against the LORD, but more than that, the LORD made clear that if David did not repent of his sin and once again draw near to the LORD, or the LORD would bring more disaster upon David until he was destroyed. David immediately confessed his sin (2 Samuel 12:13) and went into the temple to pray for sin’s consequences to be taken away. But most of all, David repented.

How do we know David repented? First, as a result of his sin, David wrote Psalm 51, his powerful psalm of repentance. In none of the 19 verses of Psalm 51 does David ask the LORD for forgiveness (because David is already forgiven – see above), but he does long to be purified with hyssop, to have the joy of salvation restored, to be washed whiter than snow, and to have the LORD blot out his transgressions and his sins. As a result of David’s sin with Bathsheba, we have this powerful psalm of repentance that can serve as a model for how we can repent of our sins. But second, we know David repented because, when he came back to Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, he refused to be intimate with his concubines. Remember that genuine repentance vanquishes sin. David had repented of his sexual sin and so he refused to indulge in any more sexual sin with his concubines. His repentance bore the fruit of repentance. The third piece of evidence of genuine repentance involved Abishag the Shunammite. She was a beautiful young virgin who served the king and kept him warm in his old age (1 Kings 1:1-4), but the Scripture makes explicitly clear that “the king did not know her.” David refuses to violate his repentance from sexual sin by “knowing” this beautiful young woman.

REFLECTIONS

  • Repentance is the most powerful weapon in the disciple’s arsenal to defeat active, remaining sin in their life.
  • True repentance results in the vanquishing of sin. If the sin is not vanquished, then the repentance is not genuine. You must hate the sin to put it to death. If you don’t yet hate the sin, then you will not hire the assassin of repentance.
  • Psalm 51 is an excellent Scripture to use for repentance.

SDG                rmb                8/18/2020