Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
It’s been nearly a year since the first lockdown – “Two weeks to flatten the curve.” (No comment) At the beginning, Marty announced that our job was to stay home and stay well, so we dutifully hunkered down and took the recommended precautions. Aware of the irony of having just donated our Clorox stock to charity, we used disinfectant wipes to keep our house as sterile as possible. All deliveries were left outside for 24 hours, and grocery shopping was limited to the special “senior hour,” when the store had just been cleaned and only masked people over 65 could shop. When we got home, we would run in the back door, drop our clothes in the washer, shower, dress, and sterilize each item before bringing it into the house. It was a weekly ritual I laugh at now.
I laugh, because we got Covid anyway. Clearly avoidance alone is no guarantee against sickness. But Marty and I had another advantage – a very healthy lifestyle. (In my last post I describe my journey from being “sick all the time” to being a veritable health nut and enjoying life to the fullest in my sixties. – https://seekingdivineperspective.com/2021/01/29/cant-we-do-both/ ) We had spent many years and a lot of will power taking many different supplements along with a balanced diet (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, yogurt, and plenty of water, with minimal-to-no junk food). Before the gyms closed, we would walk to our health club, work out, walk back, and reward ourselves with protein shakes. So, when Covid hit us, our immune systems were ready to fight back.
(Please don’t call us “lucky.” We worked long and hard for that “luck.” – Feel free to call us “blessed,” though. We know we are.)
It seems the daily Covid reports still aren’t saying much about building up the immune system, just avoidance of the virus. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time to protect oneself from overexposure to a disease, but there’s also a time to arm oneself when the exposure is inevitable. As my last post asked, “Can’t we do both?”
A good soldier has armor and weapons.
But there is an even deadlier disease than Covid, with more lasting effects. It’s terminal – eternally. That disease is SIN. And just as a virus is invisible and virtually everywhere, sin is rampant.
Sin is what separates us from a holy God, what keeps us out of heaven. After all, if flawed humans entered heaven, it would no longer be a perfect place.
Many religions and cults recognize the deadliness of this spiritual disease and try to escape by separating themselves from the world and its pleasures. Recognizing the dangers of lust, some cultures cover their women from head to toe. Others try to become holy by staying isolated on a mountaintop or cloistered in monasteries, barefoot, dressed in sackcloth, fasting, punishing themselves for past sins. In America we don’t often see that kind of self-deprivation, but some do refuse to have anything to do with the culture – fashion, entertainment, social media, or anything else that’s tainted – essentially all things involving humans.
But no amount of avoidance will free us from sin, because not only is sin everywhere in this fallen world, the sin nature is also inside each of us. This internal sin is inherited.
In the beginning, even though Adam and Eve were given the privilege of eating from any tree in the perfect place, except one, they still disobeyed, and we’ve all been rebellious and sinful every since.
No matter what we give up, no matter where we go, we can never run away from us.
This is why the 600+ laws in the Old Testament were impossible to keep. No one has ever been strong enough and good enough to keep them – much less know what all of them were!
When Jesus came, He said He had not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) But rather than making the Law easier to keep, He made it harder. According to Jesus, being angry with one’s brother was tantamount to murder. Looking at a woman lustfully was equivalent to adultery. Those who heard Jesus preach must have felt overwhelmed by their sin – the sin that resided not “out there,” but in their own hearts.
So how did Jesus fulfill the Law then? By living the perfect life we couldn’t, then becoming the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (Sacrifices had to be perfect.) Jesus died on the Cross in our place, so that by trusting Him, we could live the lives He created us to live.
But if sin lives inside us, how can we resist it and live that life? Where is the help for our “spiritual immune system”?
When Jesus left this earth after His resurrection, He promised us a Helper; there was a way He could still be with us – not only with us, but in each of us, through the Holy Spirit. (That’s why Jesus shockingly told His disciples it was for their benefit that He was leaving.)
The moment we say “yes” to Jesus and put our faith in His atoning death on the Cross, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us, and we will never be alone again.
Will the Holy Spirit make us perfect all the time? Not in this life. But as we yield our wills to God moment by moment, He will help us say “No” to sin more often and live more the way Jesus would.
Shielding oneself from tempting situations is still a good idea, when possible. Then, by availing ourselves of both the armor and the weapons (A good soldier has both.), while we still see occasional symptoms of sin, it doesn’t have to be terminal.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for dying in our place so we could be forgiven. You have called us to a wonderful life, and we acknowledge that we can’t possibly live that life on our own. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit living in us, enabling us to obey You. May we live our lives fully surrendered to You, in Your name and for Your glory. Amen.