We once lived across the road from Aman Nature Park, which was wonderful—except for the raccoons. Oh sure, they’re fascinating creatures. But the masklike band of black across their eyes should have alerted us to one vital detail: Raccoons are felons in fur. And the scene of the crime was our yard.

When we suspected raccoons of being responsible for the “disappearance” of two of our cats, not to mention the complete trashing of our shed, we got our neighbor to trap them in a cage. He took them to a golf course at a nearby university where he did landscaping work. He then set them free in the woods next to the course.

One day he heard the groundskeeper complain about having to trap so many raccoons. “What do you do with them?” my neighbor asked. “I take them to Aman Park and turn them loose,” the groundskeeper replied.

That ironic pest problem reminds me of our sin problem. We struggle to be good, but we sense that something is amiss. We seemingly “get rid of” a sin, only to have it return with a vengeance. It’s like a never- ending game of Whac-a-Mole.

The apostle Paul called us to be different from those who “live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity” (Ephesians 4:19). But how do we do that? Self-effort is doomed to fail. “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes,” he wrote. “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:23-24).

We can’t trap our sin in a cage and then set it free. “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). The cross of Christ is the only genuine source of sin management.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Nehemiah 8:1-18