The legend of the Gordian Knot recounts that there was an intricate and tightly-tangled knot in Phrygia. It was said that the man who could unravel that knot would rule all of Asia. Alexander the Great reasoned that untying the mess was impossible – so he drew his sword and with a single slice the knot was not!
I was reminded of the Gordian Knot the other day when I was tangled up in sinful thoughts. It seemed that no matter what I thought, I couldn’t think a single holy thought. Greed, envy, bitterness, pride ... every time I tried to get out of my internal mess, I just made things worse. The ropes of sin drew tighter and tighter.
Does this resonate with you? If it does, let me tell you something: you can’t untie the knot. I can’t untie the knot. Not in our own power. We cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
I cried out to Jesus as I realized that I could not free myself from this tangled knot of sin. And you know what? Jesus didn’t just slice through that knot – He destroyed it so that its component parts were flung across the universe! And that’s no exaggeration, because David – who knew a lot about sin and forgiveness – assures us: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
With the realization that I was forgiven, I could suddenly breathe easy again. I was no longer bound up in sin. I didn’t have to ruminate about where I had gone wrong or what had happened or how I had given in to temptation. I was forgiven. I was clean. I did not have to look backward. I could go forward, hand in hand with Jesus.
If you are tangled up in sin today and trying unsuccessfully to unravel the knot on your own, take courage! Call on Jesus from the midst of your sinfulness and weakness and failures. You don’t have to make things right before you come to him. He knows you’re caught in a mess. With a single forgiving word, He will set you free.
Looking to David again in Psalm 18, here is the truth:
“The cords of death encompassed me,
And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me.
The cords of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help.”
And then what happened?
“He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”
God hears your call and mine when we are tangled up in the cords of sin and death. He forgives. He saves. He sets free. If you need encouragement today, read the whole of Psalm 18 – when you do, you will be able to sing its final words with David:
“The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock;
And exalted be the God of my salvation!”