Hacksaw Ridge and the Fight Against Prevalent Sin

This past weekend, I stayed up a little later than normal and watched Hacksaw Ridge. The movie is about the true story of Desmond T. Doss, the conscientious objector who, at the Battle of Okinawa, won the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery and regard for his fellow soldiers. In the movie, we see his upbringing and how this shaped his views, especially his religious view and anti-killing stance. We also see Doss's trials and tribulations after enlisting in the US Army and trying to become a medic. Finally, we see Mel Gibson's vision of the horrendous battles that took place there.

After surviving and even "winning" an initial wave, the American soldiers wake up the next morning to an overwhelming wave of Japanese soldiers. You can view the 6 minute clip below (warning: GRAPHIC), but you can see what I'm talking about in the first minute. The retaliation is so overwhelming that the Americans are forced to retreat back down a cliff to the temporary safety of the beach.

The scene is symbolic of the prevalence of evil, certainly in the world but also in our hearts. James exhorts us in James 1:21 to rid ourselves "of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent" (CSB). Just as the sudden wave of Japanese soldiers was a reminder of the prevalence and tenacity of the enemy, so James reminds us of the unrelenting nature of sin against us. Says Douglas Moo, "Like an army with many soldiers, sin attacks us persistently and in many guises. Knock down one sin, and another quickly arises to take its place in the spiritual conflict in which we are engaged."

And the solution, says James, is not a mere change in behavior or a self-powered advancement toward our own self-actualization. No, the fall was too complete for there to be any hope in our own ability beat back sin's onslaught. The answer is that we must humbly receive God's implanted word ... that is, the gospel ... and be changed from the inside out. And indeed, we will be changed from mere hearers of that word to doers.


Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face[f] in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does. (James 1 23-25, CSB)