“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…”
I don’t usually put a lot of stock in my dreams – rarely do I even remember them. Dreams are open to so much interpretation, and there are so many things that can influence them. Who knows but that on those nights when my dreams are rather disturbing that maybe I didn’t have too much salsa before going to bed? It’s like the line from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge tells the ghost of Jacob Marley, “There’s more gravy than grave about you!” I trust the Word of God that says in Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughter shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions…” I just don’t often associate my dreams with the fulfillment of that prophesy.
Still, there are times when I think my dreams are helping to reveal what God is trying to say to me. Take, for example, a dream I had not too long ago – I call it, My Personal Apocalypse.
My life had become its own dystopian future (think Blade Runner not Hunger Games). I was spiraling out of control. I don’t know what happened to my family – I’m guessing they had left me, or I had driven them away. Who would want to stay with me. I was unkempt, frazzled, disheveled; I had really let myself go.
I found myself surrounded by illicit and wanton behavior. There was drug use, fighting, and scantily clad women in the cloudy periphery of my dream. I knew it was there, but I did not partake. And while I had kept myself clean from the drugs, the sex, and all the rest of the debauchery; I soon realized that the whole dream was set inside a McDonald’s, which was apparently my drug of choice. My sin was gluttony, sloth – but not just physically, it cut even deeper to a spiritual apathy and lethargy that was doubly fatal.
Suddenly – because time is rather “wibbly-wobbly” in dreams – I met someone, one of my high school teachers with whom I had recently reconnected on Facebook. There he was, in my dream, pointing to the door, and telling me it was time to leave. He said I had really let myself go, that I needed to get up and engage in the fight for my life.
That’s when my alarm went off.
Now, just as a side note, I use my iPad as my alarm clock and on its lock screen in the following picture:
In case you can’t read this, it is a quote from the Puritan pastor, John Owen, which says, “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.”
This is the image I saw when I woke from that dream. Make War!
Are you engaging in the war for your life, or are you listing to the false prophets who cry, “Peace, Peace!” when there is no peace. There is, in the life of every believer, a necessary and unavoidable conflict with the old life – if you are to become more like Christ you cannot also remain like you were before knowing Christ. The Westminster Confession teaches us that our growth in holiness is imperfect in this life, and “there abides still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”
Each of us is in a battle for our lives. We are fighting against sin, sin which is so entrenched in our lives, so natural and instinctual, that often we don’t even know what we’re doing. No one needs to teach you to lie, to take what you want, to put yourself first.
For those who put their faith in Christ, we realize that only through His victory over death on the cross will we ever know victory over sin, and we trust in His grace, His righteousness to cover us. But that does not mean that we are exempt from taking up arms in the battle. Once He brings us to life in Christ, the Spirit then reveals the depth of our sin, and equips us with His grace to mortify more and more the old man, and to live in the new.
To sum up the Owens quote, make it your daily work to put kill your sin, or else your sin will be killing you.
Are you engaged in the battle?
Next Week – How to Mortify Sin.