I really don’t like snakes. Anything that slithers and has scales is not cool with me at all.
Snakes do one thing, and pretty much one thing only: they bite and inflict injury, usually in order to kill their prey and devour it. And if they’re venomous, then that makes the whole biting thing way worse and inevitably deadly regardless of if they try to eat you.
Praise Jesus that I’ve never had to really deal with a snake in the wild, especially since I get freaked out at snakes even in captivity. Count me out of the snake section of the pet store, museum, or even your room (if you have a snake).
But what’s really interesting to me is that I can watch snakes on Animal Planet and be completely okay. Some snakes are even really pretty; their scale patterns and colorations are fascinating. It’s honestly intriguing to watch them and learn about them, but only on the small screen.
There’s a reason why we call “the serpent” in Genesis 2 a snake: because they’re dangerous, sneaky, and deadly. Commonly, we associate anything that has to do with sin with snakes for that very reason: sin is dangerous, sneaky, and deadly, which gives us a reason to think of it as a snake.
The unfortunate truth is that sin is really attractive. It looks really good and even sounds really good at the time. But like a snake, when it bites, it hurts us. The consequences are toxic and deadly.
Sin takes us places where we never meant to go, when we didn’t want to go there, in ways that we didn’t want to do, in order to kill and destroy us.
We are in a very active, very aggressive, very physical, and very crucial fight against sin. Paul wrote to the Roman church to put to death the deeds of the flesh, and to not let sin reign in their mortal bodies. John Owen said, “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
Back to the snake for a second. How do you kill a snake? I just recently learned this: by cutting its head off. And if it’s a venomous one, you have to bury its head. If you step on the head of a rattlesnake that’s been cut off, and the fangs dig into your foot, the venom still will inject into you.
If you don’t kill your sin completely and in totality, your sin will be killing you, plain and simple.
Back to the John Owen quote. So, mortify. What a word. To mortify means to subdue (the body or its needs and desires) by self-denial or discipline. It’s not a fun thing to do, denying ourselves indulgence of our desires. But holiness, purity, and oneness with God is too important to NOT mortify the sinful desires of the flesh.
I’m by no means a pro at this. I suck at surrendering and putting to death the sins of the flesh. I mess up and screw up daily and am reminded of the fact that there’s nothing inherently good within me. My heart breaks at the fact that I so readily and so easily let sin have some sort of dominion in my life.
That’s where grace and mercy come in. God gives these to us with His forgiveness to help us along in our process of putting to death the sins of the flesh. I NEED His grace and mercy. I NEED His forgiveness and love.
We have to kill our sin daily in order to be holy. And we have to bury the severed head of our sin so that it can’t come back and hurt or kill us.