The climax of The Fellowship of the Ring comes with the party journeying down the Anduin, and finding the enemy. There was the enemy from without – the Uruk-hai from Isengard. There was also the enemy from within – Boromir, the High Warden of the White Tower.
The Fellowship traveled down the Anduin after leaving Lothlorien, and stopped at Parth Galen to decide their next move. Frodo took this opportunity to go off alone and ponder his tough decision. Boromir followed him, with very particular intentions. For Boromir, he saw this as the opportunity to take the Ring and make it his own. In his mind, Boromir saw this as a very good decision, one that would not only vanquish the common enemy in Sauron, but also see the men of Gondor rise to an untold power, ruling over the land and protecting it. Boromir cast aside the wisdom of the Council of Elrond and took up his own, seeing it as the only option for saving his people.
Boromir really did what we all do. When something threatens us, we grab at readily available straws to defend ourselves. For Boromir, the threat was beyond what his training as a warrior and leader could handle, so he needed something more. He valued the safety of Gondor above all things, and was willing to do whatever it took to save his people. What about for us? When life threatens the things we value most, we will do almost anything to vanquish the foe, whether it is tangible or intangible. In a very real physical sense, we protect our children from danger, by preventing them from choking the 14,000+ times they put things in their mouths. We jerk them out of the path of oncoming traffic. We teach them not to talk to strangers. We teach them that drug and alcohol abuse are bad for them.
What about things that are less tangible? Many of us value comfort and security. We will do just about anything to protect that. A bad day that leaves us uncomfortable will find us pulling into a fast-food restaurant on the way home, drowning our sorrows in a bottle, or even completely removing ourselves from reality via a book or video game. These things make us feel better. They restore the comfort that we lost, so we go to them. If you value security, you will work long hours, even at the sake of those you love, to make sure that security comes to fruition. You might even say something like, “I am doing it for my family,” while they would rather be poor and have you. Nonetheless, security is what you value, so you plug away, securing a good paycheck and a family that will resent you.
Boromir traveled with Frodo for many weeks. He fought alongside him in the Mines of Moria. He swore to protect the Ringbearer with his life. But now, he was dead. His unbelief in the ability of the Fellowship to finish their task was his undoing. One can find a similar story in Scripture, though it has different, if not worse, consequences. The story is of Cain, Able, and the first murder. God, for reasons only known to him, rejected Cain’s sacrifice and accepted Able’s. Cain was in a difficult situation. Rather than trusting in the method the Lord had laid down from the beginning and correcting his wrong, he took matters into his own hands and slew his brother. God knew Cain’s heart and he knew his thoughts. With that, he cautioned him saying, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” God knew that man’s wrestling with sin was more than he could bear alone, and sought to help Cain, but he would have none of it. Cain settled the matter personally, and his consequences were dire. He spent the rest of his days away from his family and away from the Lord. Though he had a people of his own, it was these people who caused much of the mischief in the early days of God’s creation, and led to him flooding the earth in judgment.
Sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for us. It seeks to rule over us. Satan surely has a part in our struggle with sin and temptation, but quite frankly, we do not need him to ruin our lives with the choices we make. We mess things up with or without him. God’s instructions to Cain that went unheeded were, “you must rule over it.” How do we do that? Can we possible win this battle with sin? We know we try, because if we are in Christ, there is a battle within, and there is a part of us that desperately wants to do right. We also know that try as we may, there is no winning the battle alone. We always succumb to the temptations of sin and fall into its cold grasp. Like Boromir, the temptation is just too great, and we create for ourselves life-changing sets of circumstances. For Boromir, it cost him his life. For Cain, it cost many their lives. What is the answer?
The answer is the One who chased our sin to the cross and claimed victory over it there. Because of Christ, we need not battle with sin alone, but he is with us, every step of the way, fighting the battles with us. He knows our temptations, yet he faced them all without sin. There is not a magic formula to calling upon Christ for aide. We need only pray to him, and more and more believe the gospel, which is the power for salvation, not only for our initial conversion, but also for our continued walks on this earth, and our walk in the new earth to come.