I recently had the privilege to hear Paul David Tripp speak again on the heart and how we can tell a person’s heart by the fruits they bear and how we cannot change the mind or behaviors without first addressing the heart. Afterward I asked him if he had read, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.”
“Not in a while,” he replied.
“It’s my favorite horror story,” I told him.
“You know,” he said, “not many people understand why it’s scary.”
The truth is Paul Tripp was right. Not many people DO know why it’s a scary.
Now you be thinking, “I know why Jekyll and Hyde is so scary. What’s he mean?”
Let me see if you think the same thing if I say this… it’s not scary because Mr. Hyde is a monster, it’s scary because of Dr. Jekyll’s heart! Because you see, Mr. Hyde could not exist if he did not first exist inside Dr. Jekyll. Hyde is a monster not because of his appearance — in fact, “Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter and younger than Henry Jekyll” 1 — but because of his inner being, his “roots.” He is a monstrous tree and thereby his fruits are monstrous. As Luke 6:43-45 says,
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
As Paul Tripp states so clearly in his discourse on “the heart”, what is inside is what comes out. When you shake a bottle full of water with the lid off water will come out but water does not come out “because you shake the bottle”… water comes out because water is IN the bottle in the first place. So it is with Hyde. Jekyll “shook” himself to the core and Hyde came out.
In the story Dr. Jekyll was able to take his heart — his true being — and remove it from himself using a potion. So he removed what was “inside” and made it into a wholly separate being. He reasoned this would allow him to remain “good” as himself. To throw off the hinderance of the evil he was suppressing and let it live on its own. The problem is Jekyll can’t let the heart — his true self — run wildly unrestricted without also cultivating it and letting it grow more powerful. Soon his default state begins to be that of Hyde and Jekyll is no longer the one he “reverts” to but the one he must force himself into instead.
This is a terrifying thought. It’s terrifying because we are everyone of us aware of the good and evil inside ourselves. Our fleshly bodies are prisoners of the flesh and subject to the law of sin and death. We are evil. In fact so often we find that our “Hyde” has come into the open and, as the apostle Paul says by the Spirit in Romans 7:21-24,
21 …I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Dr. Jekyll knows this terrifying position he has put himself in. He knows he is truly a slave to Mr. Hyde and to the evil heart he himself has cultivated. He is unable to keep himself from even the great horror of murdering a fellow human who dared to “be civil” to him. Yet even in that state he knows he must force himself back to Jekyll. And, as Hyde is laughing and singing and toasting to the deed he has done he drinks the potion one last time and changes — no longer reverting — to the man with the double soul. From his true heart back to his white washed exterior, from reveling in the sin back to horror and mourning at himself. This is something that every Christian man and woman who desires to please God has felt again, and again, and again.
Like someone who has lost control of their mind and body this… is… TERRIFYING!
Of course, praise God, the apostle finishes his statement in Romans 7:25 with the hope we have that our good Doctor could never have in and of himself.
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
As the blood bought elect of God our dead spirits have been quickened once again, brought to new life, by His Holy Spirit that dwells inside us! So, instead of waking daily to see that our “Hyde” is growing ever stronger and our good selves are going slowly away we see instead that our good [true] selves are growing stronger daily by Grace. Our fruit is becoming better!
Let’s be ever so careful to not “Hyde” our sinful heart in a way that is actually cultivating it and making it stronger. Let’s pray that God takes our entire being, every side of us, and brings us into the light as His children to bear fruit for His kingdom!
1. Robert Louis Stevenson (1886). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Retrieved from http://www.learnlibrary.com/jekyll-hyde/jekyll-hyde_10.htm