THE INFECTION OF SIN
READ EPHESIANS 4:31-32
I would like to begin this morning by talking about a subject that you may feel has nothing to do with Ephesians 4:31-32. I assure you that it has everything to do with it so I ask that you bear with me. I would like to talk to you about infections. Yes, I said infections. Whne we understand a little bit about infections then the meaning of these two verses we are looking at will become clearer. Our first question, then, is what is an infection?
An infection is an invasion of plant or animal tissues by microorganisms. We know these microorganisms by the names bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Invading organisms such as bacteria produce toxins that damage host tissues and interfere with normal metabolism. Some toxins are actually enzymes that, by breaking down host tissues, prevent the localization of infections… which means the infection is allowed to spread. Viruses and retroviruses are parasitic on host cells, causing cellular degeneration: such as in rabies and AIDS. Some viruses have been associated with the development of certain cancers.
Paul has been speaking to us in Ephesians chapter 4 about how we should “walk worthy” of the calling that we have (4:1). He has been encouraging us to move away from being spiritual children and to move towards maturity in Christ. This means several different things as we have seen. It first means that we must realize that we, as Christians, are different from the world. This is a fact that we cannot forget and we cannot let escape us. Paul outlines for us a few examples of our difference: we speak honestly, we deal with our anger properly, we work hard and give to the needy, and our speech is uplifting and wholesome.
These last two verses in chapter 4 are a wonderful summary and exclamation point on everything he has been saying and I think add one more fact about us as Christians. These last two verses speak about our attitudes about sin. I would like us to view these last two verses keeping in mind everything we’ve talked about concerning infections.
I. THE INFECTION
I told you that I wanted to talk to you today about infections, but our topic is not the kind of infections you get in your body. I am speaking of spiritual infections of sin. Paul, in his final words of chapter 4, again emphasizes that the Christian person is one who guards against sin and resists temptations. What is a sin?
A sin is an invasion of the spirit by unholy or selfish ideas and thoughts. We know these selfish ideas and thoughts by the names bitterness, anger, and evil speaking. Invading sins such as bitterness produce toxins that damage a person’s spirit and interfere with normal function and communication with God. Some sins are actually hard to deal with, in that they break down the spirit’s defenses and prevent the localization of sin… which means the sin is allowed to spread and grow into other sins. Some sins, like anger and evil speaking dig themselves deep in a person’s spirit, causing spiritual degeneration: such as constant arguing, grudges, a potty mouth, and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Some sins have even been associated with the development of certain addictions.
It should, for you see the definitions of an infection and of sin can be worded almost exactly. Sin is a very real problem. Sin is an infection in our lives that we must deal with. Paul says that we are to put away these sins from us. We are to “put off” this corruptness now that we are a new creation in Christ. These sinful attitudes and actions have no permanent place in the Christian life. How do we do that? How, in our efforts to become more mature and more different from our world and more like Christ, do we cast off these sins? How do we get rid of the infection of sin?
II. THE INFECTION CONTROL
How do the experts deal with infections? How do doctors and nurses and other health professionals deal with these types of things? There seem to be two basic weapons that health officials use to aid people when they get something like the flu (a common infection we are all familiar with). The first weapon that health professionals may often suggest is isolation. The individual takes a rest from work, school, and activities to heal and to stop the spread of the sickness. We, who are not sick, avoid people who we know have the flu in the effort to prevent its spread. This is common sense! The second weapon is a vaccine, which you can get from any hospital or any doctor. The vaccine kills the infection, strengthens the person’s immune system, and returns the individual to their normal healthy selves. It works from inside their body to root out the infection. When a vaccine is administered, there is no room in the body anymore for the infection.
How do these two weapons, in dealing with physical infections, help us in dealing with spiritual infections? I am glad you asked!! Ephesians 4:31-32 talks about dealing with spiritual infections in the very same ways health professionals deal with physical infections. Verse 31 describes the weapon of isolation. Verse 32 describes the weapon of a vaccine.
1) Isolation = We are told by Paul to let all sin be put away from us. Verse 22 of chapter 4 encourages us to “put off our former conduct.” If we find ourselves tempted into bitterness, anger, and evil speaking then we should avoid at all costs the situations that tempt us to sin. If you find that you tend to curse after watching a particular type of movie, then stay away from those types of movies. Isolate yourself from these infecting agents. If you find that you argue and become angry with a person over the same subjects over and over, perhaps you may want to avoid those subjects and agree to disagree. I am saying that we have some control in our lives when it comes to what may infect us. We can take steps to remove/isolate ourselves from tempting situations to avoid sin.
2) Vaccination = We are told by Paul in verse 32 to do certain things instead of sin. It seems to me that as we look at this list, we can see in them an inoculation against sin. If we are busy doing these things, sin will have no place in us. When our spirits are filled with kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness, there is no better vaccine against sin than these.
Do you find yourself infected with a certain sin?
Do you need to commit yourself to these holy and good things Paul has talked about?
Is there a difference in your life, you as a Christian, and another as a non-Christian?