Romans 6:8-14 Key verse(s): 6: "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the bod of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin...”
There are many things that a dog does not like. Chief among them for many dogs is the seeming innocuous task of having their nails clipped. Dogs have very sensitive paws. I have often been amazed as to the amount of time our little dachshunds and the lab spend grooming them. The lick and lick is often followed by nibbles and chomps directed at the skin between the toes. Taught at a very early age to be fastidious groomers by their mothers, what we might regard as almost ritualistic and surely repetitive is really more than it seems. Dogs don’t sweat. For the most part they exchange body heat largely through panting. But there is one place on their bodies that is the exception and that is the bottom of their paws. The only place on a dog’s entire body that sweats is its paws. Stress a dog and make it pace, then touch the bottom of their paws. Surprisingly they are quite moist. It is no surprise, therefore, that dogs are so sensitive to the manipulation or grooming of their paws. Their paws are precious to them, providing not only their sole means to escape enemies and pursue prey, but also the one avenue by which they are able to employ evaporation as a means of cooling down.
The longer you allow a dog to go without grooming, especially a dog that is kept indoors and away from the natural corrosive environment that will normally serve to keep a dog’s claws blunted and short, the harder and harder it becomes for it to walk. As the claws grow, the paw is pushed upward, causing an abnormal pressure on the spine. Eventually a dog with unmanicured claws may develop back problems or become listless or agitated. Yet, as good as grooming is for a dog, the dog doesn’t seem to recognize the boon. It will pull, bite and writhe in your grasp as if you are trying to inflict great harm on it. And, the fact is, nail clipping is uncomfortable for most dogs since their paws are very sensitive to touch, temperature and pressure. The very thing that benefits them is the one thing they most fear.
Sanctification, the process by which we are made holy, like Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit seems to have the same effect on humans as nail clipping does on dogs. We want to be like Christ. We long to conform to the image of our Savior in every way possible. We long to walk uprightly and in a "holy" manner. Yet, the old Adam in us, has grown disproportionately to our ability to maintain a holy balance in our life. We often stumble and fall. But, sanctification? Sounds kind of painful and harsh, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is just better to let well enough alone and go on coping as opposed to confronting the nuisance and pain that must be involved to rid us of our old but "thank you, it will do and I will cope" nature.
As a dog must be sat upon in some instances just to convince it that what we are about to do will ultimately be for its own good, so too must our God sit upon us with the weight of his grace. Our hearts are sensitive and we strive to avoid any pain to them. Yet, they are fated to become calloused and anemic unless something crush them and break away the layer upon layer of daily sinful grime and worldly grief that serves to lacquer them. Sound painful? Death always is and that is what is transpiring on a daily basis in every Christian’s life. God is plucking the covering from our hearts; a covering we have worked hard to secure, even nurture. It is a destructive but necessary process in order to reveal what He designed in us from the beginning of time. The comfortable and warm covering of sin that helps us get through the day is seems like such a necessary enemy. We are willing to let it have its way just so we can avoid the cure that would, on the surface, seem more difficult than the illness. So on and on it grows, insidiously and silently wrapping layer upon layer so skillfully and cunningly that we are almost completely unaware of its stifling heaviness. That sin-loving nature we inherited from our father Adam will eventually hobble us. It’s crippling effect robbing us of our ability to walk uprightly in the presence of our God. Unless He sits on us, crushing our natural will to be sinful and clipping away the filth of sin, we will never know the tremendous relief that such a clipping can bring.
Author C.S. Lewis confirms these suspicions in his book God in the Dock, "Man or Rabbit?" He compares the rabbit’s nature to be careful while cowardly to our inherent willingness to avoid trouble by avoiding pain: "All the rabbit in us is to disappear--the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real Man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy." (God in the Dock, , para. 10, p. 112.)
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