When I was in college, I loved watching scary movies. The thrill kept me coming back for more. Now that I’m older, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that I can’t even bring myself to watch a commercial for a horror film, let alone actually sit through a full-length movie.
Perhaps it’s because of my past obsession with scary movies or maybe it’s because we live in a house with an unfinished lower level, but lately I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to know there’s a serial killer in the basement. More outlandish still is the thought of someone allowing a serial killer to hide out in his basement, naïve enough to believe the unbelievable – he wouldn’t do anything to me.
As far-fetched as it sounds, some of us may be living with serial killers in our basements right now. Before you grab the baseball bat (or shotgun…let’s be real), let me explain. The Bible makes clear again and again that sin is destructive and deadly. Nothing of ultimate good comes from it. And yet, so many of us notice patterns of sin in our lives and are tempted to shrug it off as “no big deal”. Sin won’t actually harm me, we reason.
According to God, sin is always a big deal. And even though the struggle with sin will continue until we get to Heaven, it’s how we respond to its presence that makes all the difference. If a serial killer were to show up at your door – unaware that his picture had been plastered through the news – with a story about needing a warm place to stay for a couple nights, what would you do? I’m hoping that you’d get rid of him as fast as possible and then call the police immediately. I’m assuming you wouldn’t invite him in, giving him access to the lives of your spouse and children, all the while convincing yourself that he can’t be that bad.
It’s easy to say we’d never invite danger into our homes, but when sin shows up at our doors, are we aware of the threat? Do we get rid of sin – anger, bitterness, gossip, jealousy – as fast as possible, acknowledging to God our need for His rescue? Or do we give it a place in our lives, underestimating our vulnerability to impending attack?
When we let sin have a continued place in our lives, it’s because we aren’t convinced it’s a real enemy. Our reasoning is based on a false standard – we measure ourselves against those we deem to be worse than us. In that case, pride, selfishness, and greed don’t look so bad when compared to sins like murder or rape. But that’s like opening your home to a serial killer and thanking God he isn’t a terrorist. Both are deadly and both are a threat.
The fact that sin will always be part of our earthly experience doesn’t make it less dangerous, but more so. It’s always lurking around, waiting for a time to strike. Like God said to Cain before his anger with his brother Abel escalated into murder, “Sin is crouching at your door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).
When sin comes knocking next, what will you do?