Summary: Did you know that there are spiritual diseases you can catch from practicing your religion? Jesus shows us two of them in Luke 15:11-32. Let’s explore them together.

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September 20, 2009


(I credit Ed Gungor for the title of this message. His book entitled "Religously Transmitted Diseases" served as a jumping off point for me to write this sermon.)

Have you noticed all of the advertising in the last month promoting flu vaccinations?

My son brought home a letter asking us as parents if we wanted to get him vaccinated with a flu-nasal spray.

Instead of a shot he would get spray the vaccination up into his nose and that’s how it would be administered.

There are some nasty viruses out there right now.

The big one this year is THE SWINE FLU.

Swine flu is a new virus that was first detected in people in America in April of this year.

It’s a new virus and is considered highly contagious.

There are many diseases out there you can get, swine flu is just one of many we know about.

Swine flu is highly contagious and is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, touching something or someone with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth.

So there are diseases we catch like this.

There are also STD’S: Sexually Transmitted Diseases people can get.

We know how these are transmitted.

But did you know there are other kinds of diseases, not sexual but spiritual?

Just like there are Sexually Transmitted Diseases, there are also Religiously Transmitted Diseases.

These can be caught by practicing one’s religion.

Today I want to talk with you on the subject, “Religiously Transmitted Diseases” from Luke 15:1-31.

Specifically we’re going to look together at 2 kinds of religiously transmitted diseases that you and I are susceptible to catching if we’re not careful.

One day Jesus was spending some time with questionable people; people with questionable moral backgrounds.

Luke 15:1 tells us, “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.”

When Jesus spoke, it wasn’t always the religious people who came to hear him speak. Many times unchurched people, unreligious people came to hear Jesus speak.

Something about Jesus and His message spoke to these spiritual outsiders.

I say outsiders because they weren’t really on the inside of faith or spirituality. They were on the fringe the margins of their society, not welcome in the temples or places of worship.

But they were welcome around Jesus. Jesus routinely welcomed sinful people into His presence.

And Jesus was judged harshly for it. He was criticized for spending so much time with them. Jesus was actually accused by some of becoming like them, because he was spending so much time with them.

Luke 7:34-35 tells us, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’. But wisdom is justified by her children.”

It would be like Jesus, sitting in a bar today, talking with drunks and outcasts, and a church member seeing him and accusing him of being drunk or abusing something. It’s guilt by association.

Even though Jesus was never a drunk or a glutton. But they were right about one thing. Jesus was a friend to sinners and tax collectors.

And that offended people. They couldn’t understand why Jesus hung out with these kinds of people.

Jesus told 3 stories in Luke 15 in a moment when He was being judged for his friendships.

Luke 15:2-3 say, “And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So He spoke this parable to them.”

The reason Jesus tells these 3 stories is to respond to the criticisms of the religious leaders.

Today we’re focusing on the third story. You know it as the story of the prodigal son.

Luke 15:11-31. Let’s read it together.

There are two RELIGIOUSLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES that I see in this story.

2 diseases that you and I are susceptible to catching if we’re not careful.

The first disease is what I call…



Let’s take a closer look through the microscope of scripture and analyze this spiritual virus.

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.” – Luke 15:11-16 (NKJV)

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