Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
Jonathan Edwards was a sinner, so am I, and so are you. As Christians we obviously do not want to sin, so we fight it. But how do we fight? Is there a way to fight well, and a way to fight poorly? Yes.
Edwards gives us the answer here. Rather than just aiming to fight the outward sinful action he’s done, he aims at the original cause of the outward sinful action. Edwards aimed to kill the sin beneath the sin. This is a good strategy because sin always has a deeper reality inside of us that leads to and brings forth the outward sinful action.
For the sake of illustration let’s say apples are sinful fruit and oranges are righteous fruit; and we are apples trees. Therefore we don’t want apples, we want oranges to grow on our tree. If we fight our outward sinful actions only it would be like chopping off all the apples on our apple tree hoping oranges will grow back in their place. This makes no sense at all. Apples will be sure to grow back. If we want oranges to grow back in place of the apples we must not aim our attack at the fruit alone, we must focus our best efforts in warfare at the root of the tree. Why? Because if the root is uprooted, and we plant a new good root, indeed a new tree, a different fruit will result.
In the same way, we must fight the sin beneath the sin. Too many people focus on behavior modification and get frustrated when the keep on sinning and remaining in the same destructive habits. What are they doing wrong? Not focusing on the root of the issue. Why is it you enjoy and like the “sin” so much and keep on doing it? When you get down to it, there is something you desire in the sin that you should seek to find in Christ and Christ alone. Find that, and you’ve discovered the root issue. Rip it out, and grow.
Fight the root of sin, not the fruit of sin.