You may remember from one of my previous articles that I am not much of a landscaper. I am doing well to keep my yard to a length that won't risk it being the scene of a manhunt. However, this season I did something that I have never done before – I paid to have my yard sprayed. Maybe it was the pressure of seeing a yard in my neighborhood that I swear is cut with a ruler and scissors. Or maybe it was simply the fact that I happened to be working on my lawn when the guy with the lawn sprayer was treating the yards on both sides of me. Whatever the impetus, I pulled the trigger (or rather, I paid someone else to pull the trigger).

As a novice to the paid lawn treatment world, I did not realize what a huge secondary benefit I would have! I never knew that, after just a couple of treatments, my workload in mowing my lawn would be drastically reduced. The reason is that a lawn of heathy grass tends to grow more slowly and steadily than a lawn full of weeds. And, when it does grow longer, it is still healthy and therefore looks healthy.

Previously, I had to address gangly growth more often because weeds grow pretty quickly and reveal themselves as scenic saboteurs early on. What I was doing was not lawn care but merely weed maintenance. If I wanted my lawn to look healthy I had to stay on top of cutting back the weeds to the point that they wouldn't be seen as the weeds that they were. However, if I wanted a turf that was true I would have to address the unwanted sprigs at a deeper level. They must be killed at the root.

Whether by pesticide or plucking, the roots needed to be addressed. Only then could I get at what was truly the issue: the fact that they had soil in which to grow. An amazing thing began to happen. As the weeds died off or were pulled out by their roots, the hearty bermuda that surrounded it began to take over the soil that they were previously privy to. In order to have lasting victory over unwanted lawn growth, you must deal with the soil. There must be no place for anything unwanted to grow.

Such is the case with our spiritual lives. We often expend a wealth of energy keeping our sin at bay so that our lives may look good. We become discouraged and exhausted that we have to spend so much attention on sin that reveals itself over and over again. We may begin to wonder if we have any health in our spiritual lawn at all.

I believe the reason that we don't experience more victory over those besetting things in our spiritual life is that we address the visible growth rather than the underlying root that gives it life. We cut the weed rather than kill the root. We are deceived to believe that a moral manicure is the best we can hope for. Our adversary, the devil, would love nothing more than to have us so busy keeping sin in check that we neglect to nurture living in the Spirit. We become content with a behavioral battle when we have been given systemic success. The success over the soil of sin is found only in the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The revelation of areas of sin in our lives does not have to mean defeat; it can be an uncovering of unbelief.

As the serpent came to our first parents in the garden, he convinced them that God was holding out on them. The fruit could give them something that God refused to give. And so we are tempted today: the tactics may change but the temptation hasn't. Sinful actions and attitudes are a result of believing that we need something that God refuses to give us and that we must take for ourselves. If we seek stature, we don't believe we are satisfied with the stature we have received in Christ (righteous and accepted before the Almighty), so we seek the approval of men. If we desire provision, we don't believe or are not satisfied with the level to which God will provide, so we look for satisfaction in wealth. If we desire belonging, we don't believe or are not satisfied with the fellowship we have been given in Christ as sons and daughters of the Most High God, so we seek it from relationships with people or pictures. What we settle for is less.