- Eldon Peterson
Finding respite when the spores of sin take root
Over spring break my son and I traveled to Oregon to help my parents do some work on their house. One of my tasks was to treat their roof for moss. Maybe you have seen pictures of homes whose roofs are covered with moss – while picturesque, a moss covered roof is not good for the house.
An article in the Oregonian reported, “Homeowners may think moss on roofs is innocuous, just a cosmetic problem or even pretty. Yet leaving it in place can damage the roof and even have disastrous consequences. Research shows that moss needs to be dealt with and the sooner the better.” While the moss problem on my parent’s roof was minor, it does provide a vivid image of the problem of sin in our life.
Moss is a plant that grows naturally on just about any surface, including the ground, trees and sidewalks, as well as roofs. It produces tiny spores that become air-borne and land on roofs and other prospective growth sites. During the moist, cooler months, these spores grow into moss. As a result, we do not recognize the problem until it takes root and starts to grow.
Sounds similar to our struggles with sin does it not. Maybe you have felt justified in having a feeling or thought that you knew was wrong. You know what the Bible says about forgiving others, you know what it says about being angry, you know what it says about coveting or lust, but what harm is there in entertaining that thought just a little. It’s not like you DID ANYTHING!
Of course, in a rational moment we know the fallacy of such thinking. Those thoughts and desires are like the air-borne spores of the moss that land and take root; once they do, it will take work to eradicate it. James warns us saying, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (1:14-15)
Paul offers us similar counsel concerning the problem of anger saying, “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) Paul’s advice is clear; we must put off desires like anger, for if we do not we give the devil a foothold into our lives. We must not allow the spores of sinful desire to stick to us!
However, as with my parent’s roof, there will be times when the spores have already stuck and the moss is already growing in our lives. What are we to do then? Maybe we can apply Oregon State University Extension turfgrass specialist Rob Golembiewski’s advice in how to eradicate moss. "Moss doesn’t decompose quickly like treated weeds do. As a matter of fact, moss seldom dies completely. Treated moss is merely in a dehydrated state. If any green moss still exists two to four weeks after the first treatment, a second application will be required."
Just as the moss spores are not visible from the street, we can falsely believe that as long as we are able to manage our sinful desires, control them, then there is really no problem. However, this is not true.
How have you been advised to treat sin in your life? Often we are told to stop feeding it. The reasoning is simple; if you will stop doing “it,” it will eventually die. However, as with treating moss, this rarely works. Our sin problem has deep roots in our life and mere will power is unlikely to do more than offer us a temporary reprisal.
Just as the moss in our yards or on our roofs needs to actively treated, so too do we need to intentionally address our problem with sin. It is also important for us to use the right treatment or else rather than solving our problem, we will merely put it into dormancy. So how are we treat our problem of sin?
Paul tells us that our sinful desires needs to be put to death with Christ. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” (Galatians 5:24) For us to be free our sin needs to be killed at its root. The good news is that we will be set free from our sins when they are nailed to the cross with Christ.