In C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, the narrator witnesses an encounter between one of the bright spirits and a ghost with a red lizard on his shoulder. The lizard is whispering things in the ghost’s ear. After yelling at it to be quiet, the ghost turns away from the mountain to which he is journeying, and turns to go back to the bus to hell. The lizard represents everything that keeps us from God. The spirit he is speaking to has burning hands outstretched, ready to kill the lizard as soon as the ghost verbally permits him to do so. The ghost gives a succession of reasons why the spirit shouldn’t kill the lizard:
1. He doesn’t want to bother the spirit with killing it
2. It isn’t presently bothering him because it went to sleep
3. He’ll be able to get it under control himself through gradual process
4. He doesn’t feel well enough to go through with “the operation”
5. He thinks killing the lizard would kill him
6. He’ll go and get his doctor’s opinion (back in hell), and come back later
7. Then he asks why the spirit hasn’t killed the lizard yet
At this point the lizard whispers into his ear that the spirit can indeed kill him, but it would kill the ghost as well. The lizard tells him that it is only natural to have him on his shoulder, and it is not natural to be without. He promises to be good, although he has not been so in the past. The ghost almost believes the lizard, but then finally relents and begs the spirit to kill the lizard. In one swift moment the flaming hands of the spirit kill the lizard and throw it to the ground. After this, something wonderful happens. The ghost is remade into a solid spirit. At the same time, what used to be the lizard becomes a great horse, which the new spirit rides away on.
This is the one ghost in this story out of them all who decides to stay in heaven. This also illustrates what happens to someone who surrenders to the power of God
In the life of the unregenerated human being, sin has complete control. The person may fight with it, but they never win. The sin always regains control. People make all sorts of excuses why their sin is okay, and why it should be alright to keep living in it. “It’s no big deal” … “I’ll take care of it myself” … “I can’t live without it” … “I’m not ready yet” … the excuses keep coming, and on and on the struggle goes. But at any minute, as soon as the words are spoken, as soon as the life is surrendered to God, he can and will set you free from the power of sin over your life. This is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only can a person be free from sin’s consequence (damnation due to your separation from God apart from Christ), but they can also be free from the very power sin holds over the individual that keeps them living in the habitual pattern of that nature.
As soon as the words are uttered, the sin may then be removed. God will not impose his salvation over our lives before we utter our surrender to it. But at that moment – praise the Lord! – we can be set free. Being set free, we are born again by the Spirit of God into a new and living hope, the hope of salvation and eternal life in the presence of God. In Christ we become masters over that which used to have mastery over us.
Will you, like this once enslaved ghost, chose God’s salvation today? Will you be free from the power of sin? Will you allow him to make you new? Or will you listen to the lies whispered in your ear, that you have everything under control, and turn away once again to the life you’ve always lived?
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