My least favorite job as a homeowner has to be unclogging the bathtub and sink drains. True nastiness at its core! As I performed this necessary evil the other day, a thought crossed my mind. The clog never really starts out as a clog at all. As only a few hairs get caught in the pipe a week, the water continues to flow around and through the hair, sometimes even washing some of it away. As additional hairs are deposited, adding to what’s there, the clog builds over time, and the water’s flow starts to slow a bit, although it may not be noticeable to anyone looking from the outside in. After months…even years…of this daily buildup, the clog eventually reaches the point where I notice the water building up in the sink, and it’s only then that I know there’s a problem growing down there.
All that hair that gets clogged in there over the years seems to have a life of its own. I never notice how bad it smells while it’s sitting there in the dark, but as soon as I break the seal on the pipe and expose it to the light, the stench is wretched and putrid. As I clean it out, I’m fighting back vomit as I gag repeatedly at the smell and the thought of the nastiness I’m touching. And it doesn’t come out easily either. It’s deeply rooted and locked into every nook and cranny as it snakes its way over and around every little crevice and corner. Prying it free takes some effort, and I really have to get in there pretty deep to get it all out. Leaving even a little of it assures it will continue growing that much faster once I close it all back up.
The sin in my life is much the same. Almost all of our sin starts out as “small” infractions. A lustful glance at the pretty woman in front of us in line…a hateful thought about our boss…a small laugh when our coworker gossips about someone…a prideful smile when a friend compliments our new car. As these individual thoughts and actions build up over months and years, they begin to occupy our mind. Someone looking in from the outside may never know there’s a problem going on inside our heart and mind. Yet it’s in there…building and growing. Because when we think no one knows about our sin, we think we’re free to continue sinning. That’s because sin can’t live in the light. In the lives of Christ-followers, sin can only live in silence and darkness. Once it’s exposed to the light, it dies.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what please the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'” – Eph 5:8-14
Undoubtedly, one of the most instantly recognized verses in the Bible is John 3:16. But have you studied the words that follow? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” – John 3:17-21 Wow! How many times I’ve read that, and just now have the clarity of the Spirit to understand it better. More evidence that in the life of the believer, sin thrives in the dark…and once exposed to the light, it dies instantly. Oh, how we must step into the light and expose our sin, so that it would wither away. And as believers, we’re called into the light, because Jesus came that we would leave the darkness and step into the light. “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46
What’s that mean to you and me? It means that if we truly believe in Jesus, the transforming of our minds should imprint upon us a desire to let our sin be known…to share it with the world…at least with those closest to us…the exact opposite of what comes naturally, to hide it. By our very nature, we don’t want anyone to know about it. However, we can’t continue hiding it forever. Eventually, it grows to a point where someone sees it. Someone notices the clog is backing up the sink. So our choice is to either voluntarily shine the light upon our sin, or be caught in it. Either way, opening it up is going to hurt. Exposing it to the light is going to sting, and the stench is going to be wretched and putrid…to us and maybe even to others. But it’s God’s desire that we get in there and clean it out, so that our lives aren’t stopped up by the clog of our sin…because He made us to shine in the light. “For God, who said,’Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” – 2 Cor 4:6 When we unclog our lives of the sin that bogs us down, we live in the light. And it should be our desire to live daily in the light, because the light in us draws other to Christ. “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” – Philippians 2:15
At the marriage conference your mom and I attended this past weekend, I was confronted with this reality, regarding a particular sin in my life that I have been letting live and grow…just under the surface. No one knew about it, and it was not yet to the point where it was seen from the outside looking in. But it was there…and it was growing like the clog in my bathroom sink, making a daily deposit of nastiness that was starting to slowly eat away at who I am in Christ…who God has called me to be. So I came clean…with a trusted friend, and with my best friend and life partner, your mom. And more than just coming clean, I’ve tasked them with holding me accountable…so that my sin is constantly in the light, and constantly dying. Dying to self…isn’t that what Jesus’ challenge to us is…to die to self daily? It’s my heart’s desire that I can daily die to self, so that my heart and mind can be kept clear of the sin that clogs it up.