From Josh Harris:

I’m reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring to my two older kids. Last night we read the passage in which Gandalf explains the history of the pathetic Gollum as well as story of the One Ring to Frodo. I thought the following description of Gollum’s wretched state as a slave to the ring was an apt description of what it’s like to be a slave to sin:

“All the ‘great secrets’ under the mountains had turned out to be just empty night: there was nothing more to find out, nothing worth doing, only nasty furtive eating and resentful remembering. He was altogether wretched. He hated the dark, and he hated light more: he hated everything ,and the Ring most of all.


“What do you mean?” said Frodo. “Surely the Ring was his precious and the only thing he cared for? But if he hated it, why didn’t he get rid of it, or go away and leave it?”

“You ought to begin to understand, Frodo, after all you have heard,” said Gandalf. “He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter.” (page 54)


Isn’t that what it’s like when you’re ruled by your sinful desires? (Eph. 2:1) All the promises of sin and illicit pleasure turn out to be “empty night” and the very things you once thought would satisfy you learn to despise. And yet you can’t turn away. You have a desire to be free, a desire to do what’s right, but lack “the ability to carry it out” (Rom. 7:18).

Without Jesus I am Gollum–calling what is killing me “my precious” and all the while hating myself. Praise be to God that Jesus Christ came to redeem sinners like me. He gave up his life on the cross so that I could be forgiven and freed to know and serve God forever.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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