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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

Why I Burned My Sister At The Stake

My younger sister Claudia was being a pest. She was following my friend Craig and me around and we got tired of her. She was about 7 years old and I was 14.

Here’s Claudia and me last year. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing!

When we got to an abandoned building behind the St. Pius X Catholic Church across from our house, I decided to teach her a lesson. I lashed her to a pole in the building, and told her we were going to burn her at the stake. Then Craig and I gathered some kindling wood and lit a fire beneath her.

No, we didn’t burn her. The only scars are emotional.

After enough time for her to “learn a lesson,” we put out the fire and let her go. I said, “If you ever tell anyone about this incident, I will really let you have it.”

She never told.

I’m telling this embarrassing story now to make a point. What was the real reason I lit a fire under my sister and treated her so cruelly? Was it because she was a pest, or because I had watched too many bad TV shows, or because of the influence of my friend Craig, or because my parents did a lousy job of parenting?

As much as I might like to blame these, here is the truth:

I did it because inside of me there is evil.

Today I am a Bible college and seminary graduate, a pastor, a missionary, a leader in our church, and an author of Christian books. But I freely admit to you that there is a root of evil in me that if unchecked, who knows what I would be? I could have gone in a completely different lifelong direction: a path of violence, abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, deceit, unfaithfulness and who knows what.

Now can I say the truth about you?

The same evil is in you.

I know this about you because it is the human condition. Every human being has the potential for great evil that unless checked, can result in terrible actions.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

What kept me from the wrong path? Was it societal pressure, corrective parenting, or just growing up? Certainly all those played a part. But here’s what I know is the biggest remedial cause: I have a relationship with Jesus Christ and am committed to follow the Word of God, the Bible.

Perhaps you never did anything as bad as me. Or perhaps you have done worse. It really doesn’t matter from a heavenly perspective. The root of sin that could do or does horrible things is in all of us. It is the part of us that must be “born again.”

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:3-7 ESV)

When we are “born of water” we are physically born into this world. It is a dramatic change. We move from a watery existence in embryonic fluid, to an existence in the earth’s atmosphere.

Jesus said we must also be spiritually “born again” meaning a second transformation. Later in the 3rd chapter of John Jesus tells us how this occurs:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

While being born into this world is involuntary, being born again spiritually is a choice we make. To be born again we must “believe” in the Son, Jesus Christ.

Have you been born again? If not, believe in Jesus now, and the transformation of spiritual rebirth will occur.

Perhaps you’ve been born again, but you are still struggling with sins. Here’s the key question: are you nurturing your new nature? Your old nature wars against your new nature for supremacy in your life (see Romans 7:24-25).

Someone said it is like two dogs fighting inside us. When his friend asked which one wins he said, “It’s the one I feed the most.”

Are you feeding your new nature? We do this by:

  • Reading the Bible daily (2 Timothy 2:15)

  • Regular prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

  • Fellowshipping with other believers in church (Hebrews 10:25)

  • Serving in the church (1 Peter 4:10-11)

  • Walking in faith in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

  • Confessing our sins when we stumble (1 John 1:9)

Practicing these will feed the right dog who will then win the war within.

PS: My sister Claudia has forgiven her bratty brother, and we have a wonderful relationship today.

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