he easiest way to kill a dragon is to smash it while it is still inside its egg. If you can kill it in its gestation period, you will never have to battle a monster—and you might enjoy some scrambled eggs as a bonus. Big things start small. Big addictions come from simple curiosity. Big sins grow from small seeds. If you can be honest with yourself, you will often realize what is going on. When you realize you are coddling a monster in the making, kill it quickly!
I have always hated haircuts. Whenever I have to get one, I just want it over with. I don’t like the itchy hairs that fall into my shirt. I am an introvert by nature, which means I don’t like having to make small talk for 40 minutes. Nothing about getting a haircut is pleasant to me. But years ago I started going to a salon where things changed. In this particular salon, the lady I was assigned to was very attractive. She was interesting to talk to and seemed very interested in me. When she cut my hair, the time flew by. I went to that salon for about two months and enjoyed my interaction with this young lady each time.
One day I woke up and saw that I had a haircut scheduled for that day. I felt a little flutter of excitement inside. It surprised me. I always hated getting a haircut, but now I was looking forward to it. Why? Obviously I was excited at the thought of seeing that attractive young woman. Now, I should mention that I was married at that time, with two or three children already. The fact that I was looking forward to spending time with another woman alarmed me. I realized what was happening. Something was growing. It was still very innocent, but if I continued down that road, I shuddered at the thought of what it might become.
I called the salon, canceled my appointment, and never went back. Most likely that situation would never have developed into anything serious. I am fully aware of that. I am also aware that every affair could be traced back to a little, innocent flutter of excitement. So many disasters could have been avoided painlessly if someone had just dealt with little temptations ruthlessly.
Remember how Jesus told us to deal with temptation—if your hand offends you, cut it off. If your eye offends you, gouge it out (Matthew 5:29–30). I was honest with myself. I know I am not invincible. I recognized the latent potential for a little dragon egg to begin growing in my life, and I dealt with it quickly and thoroughly.
If you think you are beyond such temptation, remember that greater men and women than you and I have been destroyed by sin. First Corinthians 10:12 says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Those who think too highly of themselves and their immunity to temptation are setting themselves up for failure.
Show No Mercy; Take No Prisoners
I recently read about a pastor who had been caught in a moral scandal. He was forced to step down from the leadership of his church, losing everything in the process—his family, his ministry, his job, and all his credibility. He stood before his congregation on his last Sunday as the pastor and in tears read a statement about how sorry he was for the way he had disappointed and failed everyone, including those he loved the most. As I read his statement, transcribed in the newspaper, I wondered where this dragon that destroyed his life was born.
Things like this don’t grow overnight. They are often the product of many years of feeding and coddling. Imagine if after that first lustful thought or fleeting fantasy, this pastor could have suddenly had a vision of his future and witnessed how he would read that heartbreaking speech with tears and regret. I think he would have become vicious with that little sin.
This is the reason Jesus was so radical when He said, “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell” (Matthew 18:8-9 NIV).
Sin can destroy our lives, both in this world and in eternity. Not only that, but it can also destroy the lives of those around us.
God hates sin because He sees the beginning from the end. He sees the damage and destruction sin causes in our lives and in the world.
If we can get God’s perspective on those little dragons in our lives, if we can see them as they really are—fire-breathing monsters in the making—we will become ruthless with them, just as God is.
If we find ourselves coddling sins or tolerating compromise in our own lives, something is dangerously wrong. We have to get serious about sin.
Admit It Exists
What if my dragon is already out of control? What if it has been growing for years and is a full-blown monster with three heads and a zip code of its own? The key is admitting there is a dragon. Even secular psychologists and 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous require people who want help to admit they have a problem. Unless they become honest about their problems, there can never be solutions.
This is actually a Biblical principle. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). Why should we confess our sins to one another? Because when we walk in accountability, we are able to receive help and grace from other people. Without this transparency, our sin stays in the dark. This is where little dragons grow into big ones. But when we bring these monsters out into the light, they begin to die. First John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
Use a Secret Weapon
The inescapable reality is that dragons, especially big ones, don’t die willingly or easily. Temptation has to be resisted, and sometimes it’s a fight. Without holiness and consecration, a Christian will soon be in the coils of temptation, suffocating to death. But your question might be, How do we reach this lofty place of submission to God? Is it simply a matter of trying harder? Should we develop complicated legalistic regulations for life like the Pharisees had? Should we join a convent or a monastery? How do we actually become holy and consecrated unto God?
The monastic lifestyle emerged in the third and fourth centuries out of a disdain for the abuses many saw within the church. Some very sincere monks went to exceptionally extreme lengths to deny their flesh and consecrate themselves. Some monks bathed in ice to ward off temptation. Others would hold their fingers over a candle’s flame until some literally burned off their fingers! Some were known to have castrated themselves, and the practice of self-flagellation was common.
One monk, Simeon Stylites, lived atop a platform on a pillar that reached as high as 60 feet for 36 years with an iron collar around his neck. Another monk, Anthony, lived in solitude in the desert for 85 years.
Is this what consecration requires—isolating ourselves from the rest of humanity and living atop a tower, or punishing our bodies to the point of utter misery and despair? My friend, when God asks us to be wholly His, I believe He has something else in mind—something wonderful, beautiful, and fulfilling.
In Deuteronomy 6:5, God commanded the children of Israel, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]” (Amp.). Notice that God places the emphasis on love because He knows true consecration can be a consequence only of love. This kind of love results in a supernatural satisfaction with God alone that makes the counterfeit pleasures of sin pale in comparison. God knows consecration will not come about as a result of self-mutilation and legalistic bondage. The key to consecration is love—and not just any love, but a love so fervent that it thoroughly consumes the heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Yet there is a problem. Despite the command to love God, authentic love is not something that can be called up on demand. Nor can love be conjured by repetitious confessions. We love someone we can relate to and identify with, someone we can see and feel and know. How could we ever truly love a cosmic, ethereal, invisible Being who is so different from us, so elusive, so untouchable?
The command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength was actually impossible to fulfill in its deepest sense—until Jesus came. When we saw Jesus, we fell in love with God. Suddenly we could relate to Him. When we saw His eyes so full of love, when we saw His compassion for the sick, when we heard His words of mercy and forgiveness, when we saw Him beaten and bloody, hanging on a Roman cross, dying for us, and declaring, “Father, forgive them,” in response to this cruciform love we could truly begin to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
We don’t love God simply because we were commanded to, but “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NKJV). God has every right to demand our love and devotion because He knows He is the only One who can truly satisfy us. He created us in such a way that we are unable to find true fulfillment outside of Him. Real satisfaction and delight are found in Christ alone!
Basilea Schlink wrote:
Jesus can only be our true love, our first love, if our love for Him takes priority and, when having to choose between Jesus or people and things, we choose Him. Jesus has every right to make such a claim upon our love, because He has no equal. No one is so glorious, so majestic and yet so winsome as Jesus. His love is so compelling, so tender and intimate, so fervent and strong that no human love could ever compare with it. No one loves us so faithfully, loves us as if we were the only one. No one is so caring. No one is so available so exclusively for us as is Jesus. Jesus knows what He can give with His love. He knows how deeply happy He can make a person. That is why He has the right, a thousand times more than any bridegroom on earth, to say, “Give Me everything—your whole love” (My All for Him, Bethany House).
There is nothing Satan fears more than your intimacy with Christ. In the midst of all your spiritual disciplines and prayers of intercession, don’t forget the most important part: just be with Him.
Daniel Kolenda is president of Christ for All Nations. This is an adapted excerpt from Slaying Dragons: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Warfare. Copyright ©2020 by Daniel Kolenda. Published by Charisma House. Used by permission.