As a college student, I often get the urge among the hours of tedious studying, and piles of thick, dense textbooks, to take a break and indulge in literature that was not written for the classroom. And being a book nerd, I often find myself buying nearly every book that catches my eye! Yesterday afternoon, this book just happened to be the original “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. The story of the woodman caught my attention and reminded me of the way many Christians fight sin.
This metal, heartless, funny character has a story that seems to be beyond belief. Being a woodman by trade, this man decided that he would build a house and get married to a particular girl. So the next day, he began vigorously to chop wood for his new home. However, because of a spell placed on his axe by a witch, he accidentally chopped his arm clean off! Coincidentally though, he knew a metalworker that was able to build a new arm to replace the old one. The next day, the woodman began to chop wood once again, but accidentally chopped off his other arm! Luckily, the metalworker had another arm made out of tin that he was willing to sell to the woodman. This trend continued until every single part of the woodman’s body was made out of tin including his chest! Having no chest meant he had no heart, which meant that he could no longer love the girl he was pledged to be married to.
Now, we may think “How could the woodman do that?” “Doesn’t he have enough sense to notice what is bound to happen?” However, think about your own Christian life. Is there a sin that you struggle with? Is there a sin that you cannot seem to, no matter how hard you try, find a means of escape? Let me make a daring suggestion: Maybe you are, although sinking in sin, still finding yourself out in the woods chopping your axe at the same old trees that are resulting in your loss of limbs. Maybe you are, although increasing your addiction to sin, finding yourself home alone, or on a computer without a filter, or in a car alone with a girl, or driving home from work on the route that takes you near a bar. Maybe you are finding yourself talking to others that gossip, or conversing with those at work that tell dirty, impure jokes. Maybe you pray every day to be delivered from sin, but are not taking the necessary measures that God has given you by his grace to be free from that sin! This is what the tin man did. He hated losing limbs, but found himself every day out in the field chopping wood until he wasn’t recognizable any longer.
There are three ways in which we can prevent becoming like the tin man in our Christian lives:
In 2 Corinthians 7:9, Paul says “Yet I am happy, not because you are sorry, but because your sorrow led to repentance.” In the fight against sin, many people mistake being sorry as repentance. However, Paul says here that sorrow is simply a road that is meant to lead to repentance. John Macarthur said that “It is impossible to talk about seeking after God without talking about repenting and turning from Sin.” If you are seeking to grow closer to God today without repentance, you will not accomplish your goal. If you are attempting to conquer that besetting sin without first repenting to a Holy God, your attempts to grow in relationship with him will be in vain.
Galatians 6:1-2 tells us to “Carry each others burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Biblical Accountability is very important. However in the church today, being accountable is simply thought of as a last second resort in the fight against sexual sin. Yet, if you are a Christian attempting to grow in holiness, and you are not accountable to other men, you are not living a biblical life. Are you accountable to what you look at on the computer? Are you accountable with your time? Are you accountable with your money? With your words? Biblical Accountability is important in the life of the church, in the life of a family, and in the fight against sin of any sort.
"If you want to conquer the big besetting sins in your life, it is going to take bigger and more drastic changes in the discipline of your every day to conquer those frustrating sins."
3. Radical Measures
In Matthew 5, Jesus exclaims “If your right eye causes you to stumble, cut it out and throw it away.” The Messiah obviously isn’t telling you to literally take out a knife and cut your own eye out. However what he is telling you to do is just as drastic. He is commanding you to take drastic measures to ensure that you are turning from your sin, and pressing on in holiness. What kind of drastic measures are you taking today to ensure that the sin you are struggling with does not befall you once more? If you are struggling with gambling, are you unaccountable with your time? If you struggle with sexual sin, do you have a computer that is unfiltered? If you want to conquer the big besetting sins in your life, it is going to take BIGGER and MORE DRASTIC changes in the discipline of your every day to conquer those frustrating sins.
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.