A strange question, I know, but stick with me here.
First a little history. In ancient times, when a band of warriors would conquer a group of people and take them captive, they would often burn the homes and the fields to insure that the new captives would have nothing to come back to should they try to return home.
We have an idiom that reflects the same idea… burning our bridges behind us. The imagery is that we have made an irreversible decision, and there is no turning back. It brings to my mind the Paul’s admonition to the Romans to
…make no provision for the flesh,
to gratify its desires.
And it is the Hebrew word picture for “repent.” The pictures formed by the letters say “Destroy the house – leave nothing behind.”
The teaching I’ve heard on repentance has primarily focused on the act of turning away from something and moving towards God. But the pull of my sin is strong, stronger than the good intentions of my heart. And unless I take measures to insure that I won’t go back, my ability to persevere in my decision is iffy.
For example, I can determine not to eat cookies anymore, but unless I throw that half eaten sleeve of Oreos lurking in the cupboard away, I am “making provision for the flesh” in case I decide I want to eat them later.
I’m sure you can come up with your own examples.
So the question remains… Have you burned any houses lately? As you look back over your recent repentance, what have you done to make sure you don’t return to your sin? What bridges have your burned? And if you haven’t taken steps to help you persevere, what does that say about your commitment to change?
I’m not asking you to reveal intimate details here, but I do want you to consider where you might have a house that needs to be burned.