Scientists have figured out why pigs wallow in the mud. Basic biology tells us that pigs don’t sweat, so taking a mud bath is a fantastic way for them to keep cool. But there’s more to it than that because pigs will wallow even when it’s not hot out. The startling conclusion of a recent study on pig wallowing (who pays for these things?) is that pigs wallow because they like it. For them, laying in a shallow spot caked with muck and mud is the good life. Sin is like that.
Nearly all sin is something we like, prefer, or choose. It scratches our itch. Sin makes us feel good, satisfied, wanted, cool (as in with it), accepted, protected, and important for at least a little while. We wallow in sin for the same reasons that pigs wallow in mud — we like it. You could say that we are addicted to it, we can’t help ourselves. Instead of creating some kind of 12-step program God gave us a radical solution to our sin addiction. Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1–2, NASB95)
But I want my cake and eat it too! I want to enjoy sin, maybe not as much. You know, only when I need it to vent stress or to fit in with the crowd. Surely it’s ok to wallow in the mud every now and again? And sometimes I just can’t help it. My body and emotions go one way and my spirit goes another way. Yet in all of that I want to follow Jesus. I want to worship Him and experience the rich and satisfying life He offers. I want Him to fix the broken things in my life.
Death enters the picture at this point and it’s a bit complicated. You see, even though we are living, breathing, walking, and talking we are dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1). We aren’t just going to die because of sin we are already experiencing it. The older you get the more this point is driven home. The only way this changes is to die. See I told you this was complicated. The difference is that we die in Christ so that we may live in Him. Paul explained, “When he (Jesus) died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.” (Romans 6:10, NLT) Whenever folks turn to Jesus there is death and life. We die to ourselves and our sin; we are made alive in Christ and live to please Him. We are a pig no more. Sin is no longer part of our nature.
Now to be honest, while sin is not in our nature we still struggle with sin. We still live in a fallen world around broken people. Sin happens. It’s like our insides and our outsides are different species. We do not instantly become sinless. John writes that those who think they are sinless are ignorant. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8, NLT) Even though our insides are changed our outside is still a little pig-like. We are tempted to wallow in the mud, sometimes we win the fight, sometimes we lose. Our journey of faith, however, is not about becoming less of a sinner. We are running towards something, not just away from something. Our journey of faith is focused on Jesus who started us on the path and continues to teach us how to walk in Him. (Hebrews 12:2) This journey of following Jesus, this adventure of faith, moves us away from wallowing in the mud as we seek to love Him more and more each day.