The Ring takes central stage early in these books, and in the first book of the trilogy, the Ring has different effects on the different characters. One that particularly stuck out to me was Gollum.
We get a bit of Gollum’s history early in this book, and as Gandalf had spent some time hunting him and researching him, we get through him a very detailed history of his life. It is a tormented life. It is a life that is full of sorrow and despair. Though Smeagol had a leaning toward mischief, it was the Ring that ultimately did him in.
Gandalf describes Gollum’s relationship with the Ring as very conflicted. Gandalf says that Gollum loved and hated the Ring. He said, “It gave him comfort, and destroyed him.” It had essentially become something that he despised, but couldn’t live without. Gollum called the Ring, “My Precious” and had even convinced himself that he was justified in killing his friend to take the Ring, because, after all, it was his birthday.
How is that possible? What was it about the Ring that caused Gollum to have this kind of relationship with it? Why couldn’t he simply be happy with his lifestyle of trickery and deceit? He could never be happy because the Ring controlled him – the very thing that fulfilled his destiny also kept him from being free. The Ring was only evil. It never purposed to do good in the strictest sense, and only sought to have its own purposes filled. Each person in its life was used to bring it back to its master.
There is a real sense of that same thing in the way that sin operates in our own lives. That isn’t to say that sin is a living force, and it is doing the will of its master. It is not living, and it is derived from a historical event rather than a particular person. Some might try to equate Sauron to Satan, but that can be done only loosely. Satan doesn’t make us sin, nor is he single handidly controlling the earth with sin. We dont’ need Satan to sin – we do just fine without him.
What is it about sin then that is like the Ring? Like the Ring, we have a love/hate relationship with our sin. Though most Christians wouldn’t be willing to admit it, they really do love the sin in their lives. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t keep doing it. We don’t put the sinful lifestyle away, because it makes us feel good. That isn’t to say that doing right doesn’t make us feel good too, but it is in our very nature to want to sin. That said, we hate it. When we sin, we know we are doing it, and after its done, we hate ourselves. Paul speaks of this tendency in Romans 7. The good we want to do, we don’t do. The things we know we shouldn’t be doing, we keep on doing them. Things that make us fell good, also make us feel bad. Like Gollum, we have a love/hate relationship with our sin, and it’s a struggle we’ll have from now until we die.
Our only hope is to hope in the gospel, as it is the power to salvation. Without it, we have no hope for overcoming our adversary and finding victory. It is in Christ alone that we’ll find victory over our sin and we’ll start to overcome our relationship with sin. For Gollum, his affair with the Ring would eventually be his demise. Because of Christ, the Christian is only here to battle his enemy for a short while – Christ has saw to it that when we go home to glory, we’ll be through with the struggle that boxes us in and attempts to destroy us.