One of the challenges of successful gardening is keeping up with the weeding. If you don’t, the weeds will pretty much take over and squeeze out the vegetables, flowers, etc. that you have planted. And, you can’t just weed the first time the weeds appear and have it all done for the summer. It is a constant battle. If you let the weeds get ahead of you, it can be a formidable, very time-consuming task. Judging from seeing a number of folks’ gardens, they have just given up trying.
I guess one thing this tells us is that God’s Word is true. Way back in Genesis, we read about the beautiful Garden that God planted in which God placed the very first couple (Gen. 2: 8). God gave Adam the responsibility of cultivating and keeping the Garden (v. 15). God even installed a watering system for Adam. “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden” (v. 10). God had also provided a mate to help Adam. Wow, Adam had everything—a right relationship with God, a perfect environment, a good, rewarding job, and now a gorgeous wife to be his companion and partner, and… “they lived happily ever after” (NOT!). They could eat of the fruit of any of the trees and plants in the garden except for one— “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (vv. 16,17). God, making man in His own image, gave Adam free moral choice. But He said to Adam that if he disobeyed and ate of the forbidden tree, he would “surely die” (v. 17b). Well, you know the rest of the story, Satan used the beautiful serpent to temp Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, and “she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:17).
As a result, not only did death enter the human race as God had said, but God also cursed the ground, saying, “In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you…By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…” (Gen. 3:17,18). Thanks a lot Adam and Eve!! Every weed I pull in my garden is a reminder that sin took place in the Garden of Eden, and something else also happened. Man’s nature became sinful and He was in need of a Redeemer. Thus the rest of history is the story of how God, in His love for us, provided a Redeemer so that we could be freed from the penalty of sin which is death (separation from God). “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro. 6:23).
Praise God, through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are no longer under the condemnation of sin (Ro. 8:1), but, until we receive new glorified bodies at the rapture of believers, we still have our old natures which can sin. We also have a new nature in Christ (II Cor. 5:17), so we have a struggle going on within us between the Spirit of God who indwells us and our flesh (sinful, Adamic nature). Paul describes the battle for us in his letter to the churches in Galatia: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17). But, Praise the Lord, if we “walk by the Spirit” we “will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). So, we don’t have to sin, but we, unfortunately, do not always let the Holy Spirit be in control of of our heart and mind, and we end up following the desire of the flesh and sinning. In fact, as the Apostle John wrote: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I Jn. 1: 8). While on this earth in our mortal bodies, we do not arrive at a state of sinless perfection. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with that battle within and describes it for us in Ro. 7: 15-25. And in Phil. 3:12-14, Paul admitted that he had not become perfect but was pressing on in his spiritual growth. We should be sinning less, but we do not become sinless.
Just as we have to deal with weeds in our garden until God removes the curse before His Millennial reign on earth, we also have to deal with sin in our lives until we receive our glorified bodies (cf I Cor. 15:42-52). Just as weeds crop up in our gardens—uninvited—so sin crops up in our lives and attempts to squeeze out the “fruit of the Spirit.” So, as we need to pull the weeds, we need to confess the sin, or it will take over the “garden” of our lives. Again, John in His first epistle, writes: “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin (We don’t have to). And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” ( Jn. 2:1,2). But, even though Christ is our Advocate, there is still something we need to do when we sin in order to maintain the joy of our relationship with Him and to bear fruit in our lives, and that is to confess our sin when it occurs. When the Holy Spirit who lives within us convicts us that we have violated God’s character and have disobeyed His Word, we need to confess, which means to agree, to assent, to acknowledge that we have sinned, thank God for His forgiveness, and ask the Holy Spirit to once again be in control. The promise to us is: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9). He wipes the slate clean and gives us a fresh start.
Now, to have a fruitful garden we need to keep up with the weeds; to be a fruitful Christian, we need to confess sins quickly and not let them accumulate. Unfortunately, just as weeds left in the garden go to seed to produce more seed, sin left unconfessed begets more sin. Think about what happened to King David when he sinned by having an adulterous affair with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. His failure to quickly confess and forsake his sin led to his having Uriah placed on the battle front where he was killed, and David was flat miserable before he finally confessed his sin, and prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psa. 51:12). Sin, like weeds, doesn’t just go away with time. We need to “pull” it out by confessing it. Don’t wait, because it will only lead to other sins to try to cover it up. “He who conceals (covers up) his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Pr. 28:13).
If you haven’t done any “weeding” (confessing sin) for a while, I suggest you pray the prayer of Psa. 139:23,24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” As God points out specific sins, confess them and then thank Him for His forgiveness and ask Him to again be in control of your life.
When I catch up on weeding the garden, it looks great and gives me a feeling of satisfaction, but I’m fully aware that won’t be the end. But it is far easier if I keep up with them rather than if I wait until it is a huge task. And the garden does so much better, for as I get rid of the weeds I am cultivating the good plants and they do better and are able to absorb the watering better. That’s how it is in our spiritual lives as well. As we confess sin we are cultivating our relationship with God and allowing the “Living Water” to reach into our souls and refresh us and produce fruit.