Summary: Life can cut you wide open. More dangerous than the cuts of life, is the very real danger that spiritual bacteria will take advantage of the situation and turn a person from God.
An opportunistic infection is an infection caused by pathogens, that take advantage of certain situations. These infections usually do not cause disease in a healthy host, a compromised immune system, however, presents an "opportunity" for the pathogen to infect.
Today we are going to talk about the danger and cure for opportunistic spiritual infections. First we will look at some opportunistic scriptures. Then we will discuss the parallel between medical and spiritual conditions. Then we will discuss how and when we become vulnerable, and finally how to overcome opportunistic spiritual infections.
Mt 26:16 And from then on he [began] looking for a good opportunity to betray Him.
Lu 4:13 And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
In the Matthew text, Judas is described as looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. In other words he was looking for a better set of circumstances to do an evil deed. In the natural world as well as the spiritual world there are circumstances and situations that are more conducive for certain things to take place. The bible tells us that our enemy goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. It doesn’t say he devours everyone he runs in to, because he can’t. Lions look for the sick, the weak, the isolated, these are all conditions in the natural, but speak to conditions in the spiritual that can produce opportunities for spiritual attack.
In Luke, Jesus has been in the wilderness for 40 days, and tempted by the devil. After numerous attempts the devil finally got it through his head Jesus wasn’t going to fall for his temptations. Yet the devil didn’t throw in the towel, he just thought there would be a better set of circumstances that would allow him to get his hooks into Jesus. Fortunately for us, the devil never succeeded in getting Jesus to sin. The scriptures in fact teach that the devil used every and any point of leverage against Jesus, and they all failed. It also tells us, that since Jesus has faced all these different opportunistic types of temptation, He is well suited to helping us overcome in every situation.
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
Ok, so far we have seen that sin is always looking for an opening and an opportunity in our lives. Let’s now talk about the parallel between medical and spiritual conditions.
I have longed believed that for every medical condition there is, there is a similar condition that can effect the spiritual life. For example someone in the natural could have a cancerous growth, likewise in the spiritual someone could have something very unhealthy for them growing in their spirit. In the natural someone could have ringing in the ears, in the same way for some people - the internal noise of life is hindering your ability to hear God. If that describes you, get somewhere alone with God and calm yourself down. Let Him lead you beside the still waters.
I enjoy reading science magazines, one of my favorite is Discover Magazine, and my favorite part of that magazine is a section called, "vital signs." That section is written by a doctor who writes about some medical mystery they faced in the course of their practice. The article follows a somewhat familiar pattern: A mystery illness, with, if not life ending, serious life altering consequences, initial inability to diagnose, an "aha," moment, and finally a cure or a remedy to mitigate the worst aspects of the sickness. (I think that is the format for the TV show "House," also.)
Many of the sicknesses they talk about will be extremely rare, maybe only a couple hundred or a couple thousand people a year in US will get them. That is what makes the diagnosis so difficult, its rarity. The solution is always found because some doctor somewhere had a cluster of the cases, or became a hub where people with that illness would come to him/her hoping for remediation. They became an "expert," with that condition and over time developed a cure or something that brings respite.
Again Jesus is the expert who has solved all the spiritual maladies we may ever face. Also, in some ways that is what Hebrews 11 is all about. It is the story of people who each faced, not a sickness, but a life challenge, or a faith test, and they became the successful model of what to do in those situations. In a couple of weeks we will have an illustrated sermon on the great cloud of witnesses and the unique challenge several of them faced and overcame. We could summarize Hebrews 11, and say that every spiritual medical condition known, that has attacked and come upon the lives of men and women of God, has been successfully faced and overcome. Leaving overcomers for now, let’s talk about how some people become overcome and I want to use medical issues as a teaching point.