Last week, I drafted a hit list. I sat down with pen and paper and listed out three men I wished were dead. I prepared a plan and vowed to God, my wife and my community to work every day at killing them.
If I may, I would like to share my hit list with you.
Deceptively, the adulterer is widely praised and affirmed in our culture. This chorus of affirming voices rarely understands why I hate the adulterer that lurks in the corners of my heart. They tell me half-truths like, “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil…” forgetting that, “in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.”
I hear the voice of Christ saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). If I don’t rise up and strike down the adulterer, he will continue to lurk behind the lustful glances, seeking to have his pleasures stirred. Only when I have killed the adulterer can I begin to see through the haze of sexual immorality and enjoy love without lust.
The thief seeks to steal something much more precious than diamonds. The thief within me seeks to steal glory. He thinks that by means of pride, anger, control and power, he can capture the glory due to God for his own. The thief knows God is the only One who deserves glory, but his folly steals from him the better thing: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22-23).
The thief must be exposed and dragged into the light from the dark alleys where he hides. The thief has consumed the poison of entitlement. Until he dies, I cannot fully savor God’s glorious grace because its sweetness will be ruined by a bitter pride that whispers the lie that I deserve God’s favor.
From the beginning, the liar has doubted the truthfulness and goodness of God’s Word. The liar within me slithers around my affections and whispers, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen. 3:1)
The liar views himself, rather than God, as the measure of what is true, good and beautiful. He breathes out that which is treacherous and rebellious, attempting to silence the “breath of God” that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Until the liar is shown to be muttering hollow claims, my heart will bend every truth, every good and every beauty in keeping with the liar’s pride. Truth, goodness and beauty will be a matter of my preference, and my life will be empty for want of substance.
Scripture is clear that these three men deserve to die. Their just reward is scattered dust in unmarked graves but, as I look at this list, I realize that I can’t do the job. I am staring at a three-headed hydra, and every time I lop off one head, another grows in its place.
I find myself asking, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:24-25)!
The reality is this: Because I myself have died, I can start putting to death these “men” within me. Because I have been crucified with Christ, I can start killing sin. I can take up the sword of truth, the Word of God, and begin to effectually attack my hit list. The adulterer, the thief, the liar are cut to ribbons by the finished work of Christ and the living Word.