Stopping Your Mr. Hyde - A Halloween Message

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

We always hear the names Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but most of us don’t actually know the story. 

Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde. He thought that he would be happier if he could create an evil half of himself who could do all the sin he desired without feeling any of the guilt that came along with that sin. In the end, it proved to not be the case. The sin – the evil side - Mr. Hyde - when left unchecked, overtook the good side.

Do you flirt with evil? Do you desire to do evil and expect it to not damage you?

Do we even recognize evil when we see it? Unfortunately, evil doesn't typically come looking like Mr. Hyde. It looks like a small compromise. A little lie to get your way, to win an argument, or to just cause others to think better about you. Some gossip to make you feel better by tearing someone else down. It comes by turning your head when you see suffering. Evil is anything in our life that causes us to miss out on the life that God has intended for us.

It would be convenient if evil came up to our house dressed in horns and a pitchfork and like a little trick-or-treater when they ask “Trick or treat?”, evil would ask, “Life or death?” No one would choose the death that evil brings if phrased in such a way. We would choose life. But evil comes in disguise. 

Jesus taught:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20 ESV).
Sinclair Lewis wrote, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross" (From It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis). Leaders, even those who are well-intentioned yet misguided, must wrap the oppressive policies in the ideals of safety, patriotism, and spirituality if they want to slide them by the American people.

Evil does likewise; it does not knock on the door of our lives dressed in a pitch fork and horns. It comes to our door dressed as convenience or pleasure. A quicker way to do something. Getting what we want – just easier. Just one little step in the wrong direction. And then, after taking little wrong step after little wrong step, one more in the wrong direction followed by another, we find our lives way off course from where God wanted them. Instead of being free from sin so that we can be a blessing, we find ourselves enslaved to sin, living for ourselves, slowly destroying the life intended for us to live.

Ron Philipose was at the doctor’s office with his wife and three year old son, when he received a call from the police after a neighbor had called in a disturbance due to repeated glass breaking in his house. Upon his arrival at the scene, Ron and the police noticed blood on the couch and wall. The cops asked Ron to step back for his safety as they went further into the home to investigate. In the back room, they found the intruder, a 300 pound deer, who had broke a window to gain entry into the home, who couldn’t figure out a way to get out with his goods. (From Surprise intruder breaks into Philadelphia home: 300-pound deer).

Unfortunately, Satan doesn’t come into our life like a 300 pound deer. If he did, unleashing that sort of massive destruction, we would stay away from him. Nobody would be willing to live with a wild 300 pound deer in their house. 

Unlike a wild 300 pound deer, Satan’s more like a mouse. 

I’m talking about the mouse that sneaks out in the night and destroys where others can’t see. In the cabinets. In the pantry. Behind the stove. In the basement. In the wall. If left unchecked, a mouse problem will get out of control. And the problem that once could be hidden, can no longer be concealed.

To stop a mouse infestation, you have to kill the mice. You have to patch up the path that the mice were using to get into the house. And then you have to clean up the mess.

Sounds a lot like sin. If you have a sin problem, you need to stop the sin. And then you need to deal with the path that is being used in your life to make that sin appealing. And then you need to start mending all the relationships and damage to your own health that the sin has caused.

But to move to the mending and damage control without actually dealing with the sin itself is like cleaning up mouse droppings in the midst of a mouse infestation. It might help for a day, but as soon as the mice have their way again in the dark of the night, the cleanup will have to happen all over again.

And it will start to wear us out until we reach the point of no longer caring to clean up the mess. Soon, one will find themselves living in the midst of mouse droppings all of the time. Pretty disgusting, isn’t it? That’s sin. Filth. Morphing God’s intended beauty for our life.

If you don’t deal with the mice, Mr. Hyde wins.

Sin must be dealt with when we discover it in our life. Not tomorrow. Not even tonight. Right now.

Jesus continued in the passage we started reading earlier: 
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV).
If this passage doesn’t put a spooky, chill down your spine – If it doesn’t get you alert like an unexpected bump in the night - If it doesn’t make you wonder about whether you are serving right, then I’m fearful for you.

These people prophesied in Jesus’ name. These people casted out demons. And they did mighty works. But they were not right with God. Jesus said, “Depart from me.” Those aren’t the words I want to hear when I see Jesus.

God doesn’t care about the greatness of what you do. He cares about our faithfulness in all the things that we do. Notice that he says the one who will enter the kingdom of heaven is the one who does the will of God.
Now, we have this tendency to talk about works as a bad thing in the church. But that is because we’re hung up on the question of how can I be saved? What minimal steps do I have to do to be right with God and enter the kingdom of heaven. God is not concerned about what minimally saves a person because there is no such thing as a person barely saved.

Either you are his disciple, or you’re not. This passage of Scripture has nothing to do with the elementary teaching of what saves a person. It’s talking about whether you have lived the life of a person who has been saved. We must be about doing the will of God. If that is not our focus in every area of our life, then we are living in sin. Mouse droppings. Filth. It doesn’t matter what job you have that pays your bills – your primary job, the primary job of everyone who claims to follow Jesus, is to do the will of God.

Jesus went on: 
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV).
If a house has a week point in the foundation, it will eventually crumble if left unmended. I read an article this week about bridges collapsing and how they are working on creating a self-healing plastic. Pretty amazing stuff.

A bridge doesn’t just immediately collapse. It gets a small crack. And this small crack turns into a larger crack until it reaches a point where it no longer keeps its structural integrity. The idea of the self-healing plastic is that it will be filled with a liquid epoxy that solidifies upon contact with air. The small cracks would then never develop into great weaknesses that would cause collapse.

If our spiritual house is going to stand when the rains come and the winds blow, which they surely will, we must make sure that we are built on the rock. That we do not suffer from any long-term structural weaknesses.

What is your foundation?

In 1995, they reintroduced Wolves to Yellowstone park. The last wolf was killed in Yellowstone in 1926. The unintended consequence of the death of all of the wolves was that the population of elk and other large animals soared to an unsustainable level for growth of certain new vegetations. What that means is that the animals were eating all the young starts and would eventually, if left unchecked, have eliminated certain species of trees from the forest. 

The wolf is now doing its intended job. The elk population is being diminished to sustainable levels. When a pack of wolves spots a herd of elk or bison, they only need to kill the weakest one in order to feed.  

 Here's a wolf video that illustrates this point.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV).
A lion does the same tactic as a wolf. It just needs to attack the weakest animal in the herd in order to get a meal.

The same is true with Satan in your life. He only needs to get you at your weakest point. And boom, death ensues. We, like a bridge, are only as strong as our weakest point. And if we have a weak point that Satan can attack, then everything else in our life will crumble.

The problem Dr. Jekyll faced is that he decided to ignore his dark side. And if you choose to do likewise – ignore your dark side - , it will be like an infected wound that will fester. The disease will spread. It needs to be removed. But the longer you ignore it, the more difficult it becomes until it eventually overtakes all of your health and kills you.

To build on the rock, as Jesus describes, means that we aren’t like Dr. Jekyll. We aren’t secretly wanting to indulge in the sins of this world. Instead, we are hearing God’s teachings and doing His work. And in doing that, we are building on a foundation that can withstand whatever life will bring us.

I always feel sorry for families who don’t know God when they go through a time of crisis. And this world will send times of crisis our way. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we won’t go through bad things; it means that when we go through bad things we will have the foundation built beforehand to get us through in a good state of mind, ready to continue building on to the house we were working on beforehand. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t go through bad things, it means that we won’t go through bad things alone.

Now, it won’t be easy.

Jesus also taught,
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26 ESV).
Satan doesn’t take defeat lightly. He wants you. He wants you to not focus on bringing about God’s will into this world. He wants you to be distracted by satisfying every one of your selfish desires. You might have cast some sin out of your life, but it’s going to try and come back stronger than before. It’s like a lone wolf who was unable to take you down, but now he has returned with the pack.

But as that video showed, if you stand your ground, with Jesus, you can defeat the wolves.

In the teachings of Jesus that we read earlier, we see Jesus teach how to withstand falling prey to wolves in sheep’s clothing – to be focused on doing the will of God. In the Luke passage, he shares a similar conclusion in this teaching on the return of the spirits.
As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28 ESV).
The sad thing about the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is that Dr. Jekyll realized his problem too late. He reached the end and gave up. He said, "I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.” But the truth of the gospel is that sin does not have to be victorious in your life. The mouse can be trapped. The wolf can be killed. The crack can be mended. As long as you are still breathing, you can be who God wants you to be. You can make that choice. You have heard the word of God. Now it’s up to you to keep it.