The world has a lot to say about sin. Sure they might not call it sin, but they have a lot to say about it. The self-help section of bookstores is usually one of the largest, and many worldviews are brought together in this area of life. We hear different ways to kick bad habits from patches that adhere to your skin and medically remove or dull that which is pulling at you from within. There are many agents of change that play on your ability to use this fictional force called will power. Today I heard a few more ideas that were quite pragmatic in their approach such as, putting a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it when you had a bad thought or wanted a cigarette. Another way that we try and use a pragmatic approach is when we try and replace ‘bad’ behavior with ‘good’ behavior. Another I heard today was the ammonia plan. When you are about to sin (engage in a bad habit) you should sniff ammonia. Seriously? The first thing I thought of when I heard that was Pavlov’s dog. So here I am sniffing ammonia every time I get tempted to think a lustful thought. Am I eventually going to start getting turned on when my wife washes the floor? Not sure that is the best option.
Mark Driscoll speaks of this wisdom regularly in a very clarifying way. This wisdom of the world is water. Toilet water. Yeah you’re thirsty…yeah the toilet has water in it…but I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind though when He spoke of living water. When we use the wisdom of this world we are drinking from the toilet. It is water that we have contaminated with our sin. Some sinner thought about something long enough and came up with an answer. SMELL AMMONIA! Wouldn’t you rather have the true living water?
The Bible (aka the living water) speaks of the truth of our “bad habits” in Matthew 15:18-20:
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what makes a man unclean; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean.
Right before these verses in the beginning of chapter 15 we have the Pharisees coming to Jesus and complaining that Jesus’ disciples aren’t acting right. “Don’t they know how to act in church”, they say! “Don’t they know that you aren’t supposed to wear a hat when you pray?” (wait, that’s not the same thing…ummm…yeah it is) Jesus rolls his eyes and says, “Seriously? This is the best you can come up with? What about this corban thing?” He then goes on to explain their lack of washing by explaining where filth comes from…within. In a recent sermon Barry Murry said that we are already primed for our actions. When we sin, that is a release of what is already in us…we didn’t get tricked or duped. We were already primed and ready. This is what Matthew 15 says. It is that which comes out of the heart that makes us unclean.
So back to the original idea. What can we do about our sin? Fix the heart. How can we fix the heart? See my last post. Psalm 37 says: Delight yourself in the Lord…and he will bring forth your righteousness. When we delight in the Lord and He grants us repentance…that will change the heart and what comes out will not be unclean. Pull your rubber bands, smell your ammonia, and find your happy place. Just be ready to drink from the Kohler cup.