By CHRIS MCNERNEY AND DANIEL LEE @ The Gospel Coalition
IN 2008, WE WERE INTRODUCED to a high school chemistry teacher who turned drug dealer after being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Breaking Bad's Walter White was just an average man who wore unflattering patterned shirts and an awkward mustache. Slowly but surely, however, the mild-mannered husband and father transformed into his alter-ego Heisenberg—the shaved-headed, goatee-sporting prince of crystal meth.
How appropriate his choice of alias, a nod to physicist Werner Heisenberg. Walt is the anthropomorphization of the Nobel laureate's uncertainty principle; loosely speaking, we can know who he is right now, but we cannot be sure from whence he came or where he goes.....
When Walt murders a drug dealer in episode three, we see that "this is who Walter White was all along, and it's only his changed circumstances that have revealed him as a man capable of these things," Sepinwall writes.....
In other words, Walt didn't become broken—Walt was already broken. Broken on the inside by pride, lust for power and greed, all of which was neatly hidden away until circumstances brought the inner being to light. So Walt wasn't a bad person because he manufactured narcotics; he manufactured narcotics because he was a bad person, and the long-term effects of unrepentant sin gradually harden him into a ruthless psychopath.
Gilligan puts it this way:
The in-between moments really are the story in Breaking Bad. . . . It is the story of metamorphosis, and metamorphosis in real life is slow. It's the way stalactites grow, you stare at it and there's nothing, but you come back 100 years later and there's growth.
And so, Walt embodies what theologian John Owen mentioned centuries ago in his classic, The Mortification of Sin:
When a lust has remained a long time in the heart, corrupting, festering, and poisoning, it brings the soul into a woeful condition. . . . Such a lust will make a deep imprint on the soul. It will make its company a habit in your affections. It will grow so familiar in your mind and conscience that they are not disturbed at its presence as some strange thing. It will so take advantage in such a state that it will often exert itself without you even taking notice of it at all. Unless a serious course and extraordinary course is taken, a person in this state has no grounds to expect that his latter ends shall be peace.
How indeed? And the answer is none of us can resist the dark spiral without letting the healing, redeeming power of Jesus Christ come into our lives as we let the Holy Spirit show us the many areas we need to repent and let Him change the direction of our lives, thoughts, ambitions and priorities. Without the Supernatural Power of the Holy Spirit, we all risk a downward spiral---like gravity---that makes us almost unrecognizable in the end.
But here's the real clincher: Satan deludes us into thinking we're okay and gradually hardens our hearts to even our worst depravity. In the end of this deadly process, we are massively arrogant, narcissistic, self-righteous and self-centered. Instead of revolving around the sun (Son) we've become like a self-imploding black hole.
Alas, there IS Hope For the Battle With Our Intractable Weaknesses, once we can admit we have them, and we all have them.