To Kill an Old Man


Your Old Man

Murder is not a subject for idle chat. So I’ll tell you from the outset that this is no idle chat. It is a serious, life-changing conversation about something you simply need to do. You need to kill your old man. You heard me.

Your old man is not doing you any good; he’s funding all your moral excesses, stimulating all your basest, most animalistic drives. He’s sharpening your instincts for the hunt of every unholy pursuit, and the haunts of all the bad company this side of hell.

Your old man must go. He’s standing in the way of the real you… the new you, which will never flourish unless you stop standing in his shadow. It may look as if he’s there for you, but I assure you he’s there for himself. You might think he’s got your back; in actuality he’s stabbing it more treacherously than Brutus, and there is a cold satisfied grin on his sadistic face.

Your old man, sad to say it, has to die. And yet it does not appear that he will any time soon. He’s a strong old man, stronger than you. He’s very well fed on all his favorite foods, and trains very hard everyday. You, on the other hand, are a loafer, with knees so frail that you can hardly kneel for a second, muscles so thin that you can hardly hold up a prayer. Your old man is a happy socialite; he’s emotionally balanced and mentally at peace. You, on the other hand, are constantly tortured with the reality of your daily failures, defeats and hypocrisies. Your old man put his hands around you and speaks comforting words. “Accept it, kid; this is who you are. You’ll never change… we’ll never change.” You need to shove that hand from off your shoulder, and kill that old man.

Your old man is a giver. He’s not stingy or difficult. He’s never said no to a craving you’ve had. In fact, he’ll scheme to make things possible for you that you cannot presently afford. And he’ll go great lengths to procure your instant pleasures. But he’s never left you happy. He knows it, and he doesn’t care. He’s happy, and that’s enough for him.

My friend, if you carry on this way it will not end well. Forget those empty promises that things will get better in the bitter by-and-by. They won’t. Don’t believe the lie that you’re not so terrible; especially reject those exonerating comparisons with other people who are apparently much worse than you. Their lot is theirs, and yours is yours. Your old man needs to go, and you know it. But there’s a glitch.

Not only is he stronger than you, he knows you need him dead. He knows you’ve been trying, and asking for help. That’s what you pray for every time you manage to get on those weak knees. That’s what you’re pondering when you go on those solitary walks thinking about your life, barely seeing the ground beneath your feet because of the teary film in your eyes. How can I get rid of him? How can I kill my old man?

He knew it would come to this when you came to him for that difficult conversation. Can we reduce the frequency of my failures, you asked? Can we not go there at all this week, you pleaded. Can we not spend any more on it? You even tried to negotiate. How about we go just once a week? How about we have just a drop a day? Half less tomorrow? He nodded at all your suggestions. You thought you’d struck a good deal towards gradual improvement. But you went everyday, had half more, and spent in excess of what was yours.

You old man knows you don’t trust him, and don’t like him. But he’s not going anywhere. He likes himself… he likes himself very very much. He knows that even though you need to kill him, you don’t want to do it. He knows that deep, deep down, you do like him after all. After all he’s never forced you to do a thing. He’s only ever provided what you have asked, and driven you where you’ve yearned to go. He’s only ever made suggestions in the darkness of thought, but it’s you who’ve pointed the way to the unholy lands. That’s why he does his best to keep you in high spirits, even if he can only do so temporarily. Your every good mood is his life’s protection, another strong argument in favour of his sticking around a little longer.

Your old man is smart. He even agreed to go once, when you almost lost it and threw the vase into the television and turned the house of your heart upside down. He knew you were coming to breaking point, that you’d all but had enough. He agreed that it was time he went away and left you to live independently, to face the world alone and choose your own paths. But his agreement was only as deep as his words. He knew it would calm you down. That if he gave you a few days to cool off, to feel like you were finally getting better, and if he kept some key items of sabotage away from you, you would eventually calm down and become reasonable. And then he could walk into your room again and you would smile at each other again.


Your New Friend

Your old man hates your new friend. He’s too-known.[1] He’s promising you a life better than anything imaginable. Your old man expects you to be reasonable. Life is all there is, and he’s giving you the best of it. Your new friend speaks of things that are only good for a philosophy class. He doesn’t know what’s real. He speaks of life as though he invented it, of death as though he is master over it, and of truth as though he embodied it. He is too-known.

But there is a bigger reason your old man doesn’t like him. From the very first day he met your new friend he knew something you obviously are yet to fully grasp: that for the first time in your life you have finally met someone who can get rid of him.

Your old man is currently at his best game. He has summoned all his greatest prowess to ensure that your new relationship does not progress. But he knows that it would not be wise to completely separate you. You would rebel. Rather, this is a relationship to be regulated, moderated, and managed.

He’ll let you visit your new friend about once a week, usually in the weekend, and he’ll make sure that other people are always there. That way you’ll spend the day talking with them instead. Your new friend won’t even get a hearing if he plays his cards right. But at least you’ll feel you made an effort, that you were close to him for a bit.

Your old man will ensure that you do not read his letters too much. Oh he’ll let you receive them, but he’ll distract you so effectively that you’ll only read them once in a while. Good for him, your new friend writes funny, in such terse language that you need days to figure out what he’s saying a lot of the time. In fact you need him to explain in person what he’s written. Your old man knows that if he kept you to one reading a month or so, you’d never make any progress. He must make sure you don’t make any progress, because your old man has read the letters before you. He knows your new friend doesn’t like him either, and is trying to help you kill him. For example he says things like:


 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”[2]


Imagine that. And:


“put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind”[3]



“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth.”[4]


“This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.”[5]


We have what?


“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”[6]


Your old man reads these things and says to himself, “Videbimus”, we shall see. He knows that the best you can do yourself is hope he dies. You couldn’t pull the trigger even if he put a colt 45 in your hand. [7] As far you are concerned, he has nothing to fear no matter what you read, as long as you don’t read it often. Because the more you read it, the bolder you will become. Fantasy will turn into intent, and you’ll go looking for your friend, the one who can really do the job. The one who says in his letters, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[8]

Your old man knows that your new friend is speaking the truth, that you will indeed enjoy a life of unparalleled brilliance and happiness if you get really personal with your new friend. He knows that your new friend will kill him with the slow poisons of truth and love. He knows you’ll be much better off once he’s gone, and he’s determined to stay. He’s not going down without a fight. The question is, are you going to keep fighting him yourself? What, with those skinny bones and atrophying muscles? Or are you going to pick up the telephone and make that call? Call your friend. Go visit him. Tell him what’s up. He wants to help you; all he needs is your permission.

In the meantime, I’ll confess that I know him too. He sends me letters too, you know. I’m dealing with my old man according to His plan. It’s a tough battle, but I trust him. He told me that this is going to be a war of attrition, “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”[9]

But he insists that I allow him wage the war himself, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”[10] Finally he has assured me that in those moments when my old man seems to be making a strong stand, I must not give up hope, or think that He has deserted me, for as long as I stick to him and follow his plan, I am safe. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”[11]

I’m trying to get my old man killed, and you should too. It’s a daily struggle; he’s strong. But what option do we have? John Owen summed up our predicament very well: “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”[12]



[1] Too-known: [Ghanaian colloquialism] proud, self-conceited, or overly assertive

[2] Romans 6:6. All passages taken from New King James Version unless otherwise stated

[3] Ephesians 4:22, 23

[4] Colossians 3:5

[5] 2 Timothy 2:11

[6] Philippians 1:21

[7] A type of pistol

[8] Mattew 11:28

[9] Galatians 6:8

[10] Romans 8:13

[11] Romans 8:1

[12] John Owen. Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers.


Agana-Nsiire Agana is a theologian, communicator and writer. His passion is for communicating eternal truth in a contemporary context which is influenced by postmodern, secular thought. The gospel, though unchanging, can and should be expressed in terms of the challenges, philosophy and language of the present day.
  • Derrick Adofo

    That’s so real and powerful! God bless you!