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Snatch them from the Devil

But you don't fight sin with good intentions, wishful thinking, or a blind eye.

As for us...we are not to cease to snatch prey from the mouth of the lion or the dragon, that is, of the devil, who ceases not to snatch at the prey of our souls...

- Finnian of Clonard, Penitential (Irish, 6th century)

And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire...

- Jude 22, 23

Celtic Christians waged a ferocious battle again sin, as is evident from reading the surviving penitentials from this period. They understood, as Asaph explained in Psalm 73, that sin is a slippery slope, and the end of sin is death. They loved too well to allow the people in their care simply to drift along in wickedness.

But you don't fight sin with good intentions, wishful thinking, or a blind eye. You have to go after it aggressively, working out your salvation in fear and trembling in the power of God's Word and Spirit. Growth in righteousness begins in confession, leads to repentance, and comes to fruition in penance. Thus a new and proper course is identified and pursued, and the penitent can make progress in holiness.

All this will seem rather extreme to our generation of Christians. We have allowed the pragmatic and tolerant spirit of the age to rule in our congregations, so that our approach to dealing with sin is typically to be patient and loving, without getting involved, and to hope for the best.

That hasn't gotten us very far along the road to holiness. When we get serious about holiness, we will show widespread conviction of sin, leading to tears of repentance. Then God will meet us by His Word and Spirit and direct us how to begin amending our lives. He will meet us there, at just that point where we finally resolve that we, too, will take seriously the war against sin. He will empower and transform us and show His glory to and through us.

But the first step is ours. Or, perhaps, yours.

Today in ReVision: That arta do it - This is a fine way to spend your tax dollars (

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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