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This is My Story: Jason

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Note from Pastor David: This week's "This is My Story" is a bit different. On Easter Sunday, Jason Houston sent the article below to his Sunday School Group, the Gaius Class. I thought it was really good and it reminded me of John Owen's famous admonition, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you."

Jason gave me permission to share it here.


My family moved into our house 3 years ago.  The house is ~15 years old.  The builder must have gotten a massive discount on holly shrubs because there are 31 of them planted around the house.  I love to garden and have been in the process of removing some of them manually to make room for prettier flower beds.  Since I know removing old shrubs is a lot of work, last year I decided just to cut the growth back close to the ground thinking that they would die and I could just plant around them.  Wrong!  There were constant green shoots.  And the roots disrupted all the new planting.  Even though I was diligent about pruning the new growth, it just kept coming.  So this year I decided to remove them.

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Here is a picture of one of the shrubs next to a basketball so you can get an idea of scale.  After cutting back the above ground growth, it is tiny.  Piece of cake to get it out, right?  Wrong!  It took me 5 hours to dig this thing out and clear all the roots out from the soil.

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So what does this have to do with Romans 6?  Paul says we have died to sin so we should not keep going on sinning.  What does this mean exactly?  At first I was thinking more along the lines like we should not be tempted any longer by sin because we are dead to it.  Like when I am dead, I will no longer feel hunger or desire to sleep.  Doug was saying think of it more like a slow death.  Kelly and Jennifer were both saying that Paul is telling us to keep reminding ourselves daily to not sin.  It finally clicked in my mind while trying to dig out these hollies.  If I think of the holly as representing sin in my life then I can draw the following parallels.

  1. Cutting back the above ground growth is pretty easy.  But it is only addressing the superficial growth.  The green shoots will keep coming back.  If I think of sin similarly as the above ground growth of the holly, it may be easy to reduce sin in my life temporarily and superficially by focusing on the small, individual sins.  But the sin is sure to come back and come back often. 
  2. Even if I diligently remove the green shoots of the holly, it is still not addressing the root.  Under the ground there is a massive root system.  There is no doubt that this holly shrub wants to live! The roots will always look for a path to send up new green shoots.  It is the same way with sin.  Like Doug said, sin does not want to die.  The devil will always look for new ways to tempt us into sin.  Because our sinful nature is like the root of the holly, we cannot really defeat sin unless we get to the root.
  3. It took me 5 hours of chipping and digging away at the tap roots and lateral roots.  Only by focusing on the root was I able to remove the holly and make way for the new plants.  It is the same way with sin.  If I focus only on the green shoots (like not telling a lie, or not losing my patience with a loved one) it will not have any lasting effect.  The new sin will always come and come quickly and often.  I think the only way to make progress on sin in my life is to get to the root. 

So here is what I think Paul is trying to tell us.  In Romans 7 he goes on to say we have a deep sinful nature.  Paul is saying by accepting Christ we have the opportunity to die to sin but in order to die to sin, we have to focus on the sinful nature not just individual sins.  Only if we humbly admit the deep sinful nature in us, and diligently guard against green shoots coming off of that sinful nature can we hope to make progress in dying to sin and offer ourselves as instruments of righteousness (and make way for prettier flower beds).

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Share Your Story:  We love the lyrics of "Blessed Assurance": "This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long." Stories and testimonies like the one above lead us to worship. We know God is at work and would love to highlight your story in an upcoming post. Share your story here.