Ephesians 2:4-6 – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
In W.Y. Fullerton’s biography of Charles Spurgeon, we are told a story of Spurgeon’s early years. While spending time at his grandmother’s home, he was promised a penny for every Isaac Watts hymn that he memorized. Soon after, she reduced the amount to half a penny per hymn. Soon after, his grandmother proposed a new way to earn some money. Their home had been overrun with rats, so she promised to pay him a certain amount per rat that he would kill. Being in favor of earning more money, he spent more time killing rats than memorizing hymns. According to Fullerton, Spurgeon said later that “memorizing the hymns paid the best, for he was able to use them to advantage in his sermons.”
Isaac Watts was an English hymn writer who lived from July of 1674 to November of 1748. He is known as being the Father of English hymnody. Two of his most noteworthy hymns include “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “Joy to the World.” When you scan the list of hymns that Isaac Watts wrote, you find that his music was centered on the gospel.
One of the reasons I think we get frustrated as we pursue Christ is because of the fact that we’ve confused our role in killing rats. In our efforts to kill the rats in our hearts (or weeds or thorns), we spend too much time thinking about the rats. We study the movements and patterns of the rats. We learn all about how the rats operate and what they love to eat. We learn all about traps to set up to kill them. We try to become experts in understanding how the rats work. The problem is that we’ll never become experts in understanding how rats work because we aren’t rats.
See, there is one who became an expert in understanding the rats that exist in our hearts. There is one who learned how rats operate and how to kill them. Likewise, there is one, who though he knew no sin, became sin. He understood temptation and he understood fully why we sin. He became an expert on sin as he became sin for us to defeat sin. He committed no sin, but became sin.
I believe that many of us struggle in killing sin because we strive to become experts in our sin. We study our sin to such a degree that we forget that one became sin for us so that he could kill sin in us! Maybe instead of becoming experts in rat-killing, we would be wise to meditate on the love of God in Jesus Christ. Like Spurgeon, we would also be wise to focus intensely on the gospel by memorizing hymns by Isaac Watts. In meditating and memorizing on the gospel and how we are “alive with Christ,” we will learn that it is only through the gospel that we will be free from our sin. While running toward the Father, look up! Quit looking down! Quit looking inward and begin looking upward!