The Nuclear Option

Devotional thoughts for December 2021

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8–10, NIV)

I grew up in a MAD world... a world where a civilization-stopping nuclear war was possible. MAD stands for Mutually Assured Destruction. The idea here is that nobody “wins” a nuclear war… because a post-nuclear world would be much less of a prize. At a minimum, the participating countries would be decimated, the effects of radiation would spread across the earth, and we’d have a global economic crash.

I find it interesting that those are the reasons that deter us… not that it might be wrong to kill people at that scale. “Conventional” warfare has its own set of problems, but that’s the type God historically used to advance his kingdom’s objectives. If we’ve proved anything over the years, it’s that the planet Earth can absorb a lot of conventional warfare and keep on ticking.

The nuclear age has enriched our language, though. When we are talking about ultimate solutions to lesser problems, we use phrases like “going nuclear,” “nuking” and “using the nuclear option.” The idea is that in the world of management, some problems cannot be solved by lesser solutions — but you’ve got to think things through. When a publicly-traded company uses a “nuclear solution,” its stock will often plunge. So, “lesser” solutions are generally preferred.

The problem is that people try to use “lesser solutions” to deal with the sin… but these don’t do the job. Works-based salvation schemes fall into this category. You see, people are intrinsically sinful (Romans 3:23), yet they bring trinkets to God instead of dealing with sin ontologically. Sin requires redemption, redemption requires atonement… and the atoning death of Jesus Christ is the nuclear option for sin.

In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed — and I’m paraphrasing here — “Father, I don’t really want to use the nuclear option today! So, is there any other way? I know, I know.... this is a rhetorical question. Your will be done, Father… even though we both know what that means.” (Mark 14:35-36).

But even though Jesus dealt the death blow to sin at the cross, sin persists. At salvation, we become positionally sinless — “officially” sinless, if you will. But we still sin. Living a spiritual life while sinning is what the Age of Grace is all about! This is why Paul taught us how to fight Satan using conventional — albeit spiritual — warfare methods in Ephesians chapter 6.

So here’s the thing: if you have never gotten MAD at your sin — that is, if you have never applied the nuclear option by repenting and laying your sins at Jesus’ feet — you have not applied the nuclear option… and your battle is in vain (Matthew 7:21-23 ).

Defeating sin cost God his only Son (John 3:16) … the only name we can call on to be saved (Acts 4:12) … the only solution to the problem of sin (Proverbs 16:25) … the only solution rightly called nuclear.


(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20211129 The nuclear option).

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