My pastor from a few churches back (Steve Holt of Mountain Springs Church in Colorado) used an illustration in one of his sermons, and it’s stuck with me.
He said that our hearts have dark rooms in them. The darkness comes from the sin in our lives. We know that it’s there, and we want to get rid of it, but we aren’t sure how to do it. So, we take a bucket into the room and start shoveling darkness out bucketful by bucketful.
This approach almost always meets with frustration and guilt, because we can’t shovel out the darkness fast enough to make a difference. We exhaust ourselves trying to change bad habits and get rid of sin only to find that they replenished themselves while we were shoveling out the next bucketful.
A better solution (and one that actually works) is to simply turn on the light. It chases away the darkness.
How many times have we struggled with sin in our hearts and in our behaviors that just wouldn’t go away? Satan first tempts us to commit the sin and then becomes our accuser, beating us up with same weapon he just convinced us to give him. We suffer tremendous guilt and discouragement in our walk and often give up, thinking it’s just not possible to get free.
It probably isn‘t possible if we are just shoveling darkness. We need the light of Christ in our hearts to conquer these persistent sins. It’s available through God’s Word, through other godly believers, through acts of service and love, through prayer and many other spiritual disciplines. Once the light is on, it’s so much easier to say, “no,” to temptation, to gain consistency in our walk.
So maybe we should stop stressing so much about the sin that we want to take out of our hearts and start focusing on letting more light in. Once God gets into a room of our hearts, He will clean it up and take out the trash for us.
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)