In AD 79, two cities and some 16,000 people were obliterated by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. One of those cities was Pompeii, which makes a phrase from the popular song Pompeii even more meaningful:
And the walls kept tumbling down,
In the city that we love.
Great clouds roll over the hills,
Bringing darkness from above.
—Pompeii by Bastille
Most of us would assume that the poor souls who perished in the devastation of that famous eruption never saw it coming. To be sure, the volcano itself had not erupted in centuries, but I wonder if anyone doubted the wisdom of making Pompeii his or her home after the calamitous earthquake that obliterated much of that city just 17 years before?
That’s right – a huge quake shredded a good portion of Pompeii in AD 62, yet the people just built on the rubble and ignored the risks. They foolishly believed that the worst was over – little did they realize that the worst was yet to come.
You know…in a way, I feel like I live in Pompeii as well. I have allowed the rubble of my sin to be the foundation of my life, and I dwell in the presence of a spiritual volcano known as my sin nature. I foolishly believe that the worst consequences of my sin have already occurred, but the Bible has a different perspective:
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind (Isaiah 64:6)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21).
Just like the people of Pompeii, I go about my daily life as if all is secure – but I have already experienced the eruption of my flesh that spews destruction and rains down death on my relationship with God and my loved ones. I have had numerous relational earthquakes and warning signs, and lately I’ve realized that if nothing changes, I will be buried by the sinful world I’ve created.
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
—Pompeii by Bastille
Well, perhaps it’s about time that I move away from Pompeii? Sure, I’ve grown used to living with the same nature, attitudes and habits that have characterized me from birth, but I’m ready to find a safer place. A place where Jesus is the sole ruler of my soul, and all the volcanoes are permanently dormant.
That’s why I love the promises from God’s Word that empower me to get away from my spiritual Pompeii:
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there (Galatians 5:24).
My friends, if you feel like the poor guy in the Pompeii video – trying to escape the darkness that seems to be overtaking your world, remember that Jesus Christ has made you into a new creation! All the old ways of your sinful nature were crucified with Jesus on the Cross, so you have the freedom, in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to walk away from the sinful passions and desires that keep erupting and destroying your world.
And remember, as well, that our planet itself is a spiritual Pompeii as each day moves us closer to the return of Jesus Christ. The earthquake that occurred during His crucifixion is a warning that our world faces a future judgment, so now is the time to prepare by sharing the gospel every chance you get for the sake of your friends and for the advancement of THE Cause of Christ.
Just like the people of Pompeii desperately needed to be warned about their city’s impending destruction, we live in a world that urgently needs to be warned. We all have an important role to play. So let’s leave our own personal spiritual Pompeii’s behind so we can be free to model and share the message of Jesus Christ with those around us who desperately need to be rescued.
Now that’s something to be optimistic about!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Until Jesus returns or we pass away, we will battle our sin nature. It is critical to realize that this part of our soul is a powerful destructive force that can bring great devastation in our lives, so we need to crucify our flesh and live in the freedom of being a new creation.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, thank You for giving us freedom from our sin nature and ourselves. Jesus we crucify our sinful desires and commit ourselves to following You each day. Spirit, please empower us to share the gospel with boldness in these last days.
Read: Galatians 6:14-15. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.
Get: Faith-Sharing Tips. Need help sharing your faith with friends who are coming from totally starting points than you are when it comes to God? Check out these helpful faith-sharing tips for 13 different worldviews.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: Pompeii is a great reminder that we also live in the shadow of a volcano called our “sin nature,” so we need to claim the freedom that is in Jesus and warn others of our world’s impending destruction.
Key Scripture:2 Corinthians 5:17
- Why did the people of Pompeii stay after the first earthquake?
- How are we oftentimes like the people of Pompeii?
- What would it look like for you to “move away” from your Pompeii?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?