Detecting the Roots of Sin

Written by Paul J Bucknell on August, 24, 2021

Detecting the Roots of Sin

Eliminating garden weeds illustrates how to grapple with sin successfully.

19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21 NASB).

We might sometimes indulge in sin like jealousy. If left alone, its extending awful tentacles begin to affect everything we do. For example, we might waste our peaceful sleep time endlessly recounting our bitter wounds. The Lord wants us to put aside all sin, for it opposes God’s good purposes for our lives.

When we become believers, God births Christ’s new nature in us. We begin to operate from God’s good purposes that spring from the Holy Spirit’s animation of our new nature. But we still can and do sin. We are tempted and get snagged, wrongly allowing our lives to become overrun with the undesirable manifestations of sin.

An excellent illustration presented itself of how to identify and get rid of these sins. The other day, while weeding crabgrass from the driveway, I noticed that some places had no crabgrass, while other spots pushed out a blade with two small leaves. Still other areas, shown below, were thick with weeds. I didn’t know where to begin.

Don’t be discouraged by the way sin overwhelms you at times!

Like sin, the crabgrass was overgrown and began to interfere with my plans. Remember, some places didn’t have any crabgrass growing. Why not? No seed found its place there!

It’s logical and right to start connecting the crabgrass with its hidden roots. If you see one blade or offshoot of crabgrass, then surely there is a root. The manifestation of sin likewise, always has roots. The root will grow along with its manifestations if we allow it. As sin develops, it further produces its troublesome presence. (Death is the end consequence of sin; we are only speaking of immediate results.)

You are not alone in facing these issues that seem to be out of control. The sin might be impatience or deceit, or one of the many other kinds of sins; they all have their inroads that destroy the peace and joy that Christ has given to us.

Fortunately, if you are a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you can find forgiveness for your sins through the cross.

But you rightfully ask, “Isn’t there a way to get rid of this sin?” There sure is.

The Mess of Sin

Let’s start with an overgrown and confusing disarray of sin in our lives. There are several steps to get rid of it. Each time we must use God’s light, His Word, to help us. Sin comes in through temptation and must be spotted and rejected before it takes root.

Discouragement is usually the first step we must face—we don’t know what to do. Guilt is part of that, but Christ’s death on the cross has freed us from guilt. Jesus took it for us. (Read Isaiah 53 and note the five times it states He took our sins from us.)

Let me tackle the discouragement we face, when failing the Lord and others. Often we face financial problems because of our sin. There doesn’t seem a way out. Remember, because of Christ’s work on the cross, there is forgiveness, and when there is forgiveness, there is freedom.

So we can use God’s Word to step out of the mess. The first step is to take the step! When we do this, we trust the Lord to forgive and restore our freedom to love and serve Him.

Crabgrass serves as a good illustration because the patch is so large, we don’t know where to start. We feel unable to tackle it at all. But knowing there are roots, we begin to move the many crabgrass offshoots aside. We discover that it looks worse than it is.

In the swirling weeds above, I moved the offshoots around. I discovered that the many arms, long as they were, went back to one root even though some reached out overlapping one or more other sections. As I picked up the long offshoots, I discovered to my surprise, that there were only four sections, even though earlier it looked impossible to handle.

The Plan of Elimination

From that point on, I had confidence enough to devise a plan. In my past experience as a boy, my Mom showed me how to pull out crabgrass from our yard. If you yank at a few arms, they will surely come off, but their roots and other shoots remain. We do treat sin that way, but it only confuses the situation. We need to get at the roots.

Don’t be discouraged by the way sin overwhelms you at times!

Instead, I learned to laboriously go around, finding one arm at a time, lifting it and detaching it from the ground. One by one, I lift it and gather that one with the others. I lifted them up together, as seen in the picture

When I gathered all the offshoots, I could see where they joined together at the center, with the root going down out of sight. If I put my fingers close to the ground, just below where all the offshoots connected and gently but steadily pulled, the whole mass came straight up, roots and all.

All those offshoots belonged to just one root system. And so it is with sin. Our hatred can manifest itself in numerous ways, even against numerous people, but it’s all the same hatred source in our old sin nature—the flesh.

In a spiritual sense, when tackling sin in our lives, it’s good first to spot the root sin—hatred in this case. Identify all the people and things you hate. These would be ugly tentacles, sourced in hatred, stretch across your life. Tell the Lord how this hatred is so wrong; be specific. After identifying them one by one, confess their wrongness, seek His forgiveness. Often you will need to apologize to others. This approach is like gently and surely pulling the whole root system out of the ground.

Forgiveness frees you from God’s judgment and enables you to center your purposes and relationships in love. Instead of hatred, you will find thoughtful ways to respond.

One more thing!

Remember that the sinful nature is always seeking a place to plant its seeds of hatred, jealousy, pride, etc., in your life. We always need to be alert. If we see the budding signs of these sins, confess them right away. That will be easy compared to uprooting a larger crabgrass plant(deep roots of sin).

Secondly, by planting something in its place, the hatred will not easily regrow. Consider daily embracing one of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Ask the Lord to make His kindness, love, joy, etc., grow in you. When the garden has things growing in it, there is less chance of weeds taking root.

There are four root issues causing that whole mess!

Discussion Questions on Detecting Sins

  1. What do the offshoots of the crabgrass illustrate?
  2. What does it mean that sometimes the offshoots overlap and stretch over into other areas?
  3. Remember a time when you were discouraged by your sin. What did Satan want you to do? Why?
  4. How does separating the big mess into four root separate sections help lead to resolving the issue?
  5. What does the gathering of all the offshoots of the crabgrass together before pulling out the root illustrate about handling sin?
  6. Consider one sin that you allowed to grow and spread in the past. How many people did it affect? Seek out any that you need to apologize to.
  7. How does the cross allow believers to find full forgiveness for sin?
  8. Share what part of the crabgrass illustration helped you the most.

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