February 8, 2013

“…And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:31-32

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am very thankful for my immune system.  I have been sick and have been making great use of it.  More accurately, I am still sick but I am getting better; thanks to my immune system.

I have read about how severe the cold and flu season has been this year.  I have had friends and family sidelined for a period of time by some nasty microscopic organism.  Now, I have had my turn and I can attest to the fact that it is pretty nasty this year.  I think I might take up the blue-masked fashion statement of flu protest; I don’t want to get that again and I sure don’t want to give it to anyone.

It started six days ago.  I was feeling fine but within 3 hours I was lying in bed, chilled as my body sought a temperature that would acclimatize me to the Sahara.  That wonderful feverish state lasted, sporadically, for four days.  At one point, the entire family consisted of a variety of blanketed bumps, spread across several couches, all giving a token interest to the TV’s attempt to distract us. All we could do was wait and let our immune systems do their respective jobs.

I have had a lot of time to think between episodes of the Cosby Show, Andy Griffith Show, Pawn Stars, Duck Dynasty, etc.; I did not have much else to do.  However, the breadth of my contemplation has been rather limited.  I mostly thought about – me and how sick I felt.

I think that is a primary result of being sick.  We become acutely aware of the clammy feel of the skin, dull ache in the side of the brain, muscles that are impossible to stretch to relief, and the search for the holy grail, a comfortable temperature.

flu virus

flu virus (Photo credit: nigro pino)

I find it interesting how often Jesus interacted with sick people.  It is incredible to think that Jesus could have cleansed me from all viruses and their effects with a word.  I would have liked that.  However, I think He was making an important point.  Jesus healed people.  Jesus said that he came as the physician.  He is the physician for the sickness that is more deadly than any influenza strain.

Jesus is the only physician for the sickness caused by the infecting agent called sin.

We are in a pandemic of this hereditary and terminal disease.  Everyone has it. It is so familiar that most people don’t think of it as an abnormality but people are still seeking a variety of treatments for the symptoms; new relationships or adventures to freshen things up, drugs or alcohol to dull reality, stretching resources to grasp enough possessions to get relief, the search for just the right laying of religious flavors to feel comfortable.

The problem is that none of those treatments are addressing the infecting agent – sin.  They are just masking the symptoms.  Just like our physical bodies need an immune system to kill dangerous pathogens, we need a spiritual immune system.  However, no one is born with a spiritual immune system.

You have to be born again to get a spiritual immune system.

Jesus Christ, as our great physician, has cured all who have come to Him of the terminal aspect of sin.  Sin will no longer kill those who are in Christ Jesus.  I don’t know why God did not decide to cure us from sin, completely, right upon our salvation.  I would have preferred to go straight from a terminal sin slave to perfect holiness.  However, God’s way is better and that is why He gave us what we call sanctification – “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)

Sanctification is our God given spiritual immune system.

The role that we play in the function of our physical immune system is both active and passive.  When my fever was raging, I did not have to consciously send T-cells to infected areas; I surely did not change the thermostat on my hypothalamus.  I just passively lay on the couch, yielded and trusted my immune system to work within me.

In a similar way, that is what God is doing regarding sin in the life of a believer.

“Paul tells his readers, “Yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life” (Rom. 6:13), and he tells the Roman Christians, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1). Paul realizes that we are dependent on the Holy Spirit’s work to grow in sanctification, because he says, “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live”. (Rom. 8:13)” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Pg 754)

The killing of sin in our lives has been and will always be a work of God.

However, I am amazed at how some will become proud or overly confident in their own sanctification.  It is like bragging about your immune system.  “I never get sick. I have a great immune system.”  I don’t understand why a person would brag about that since they have no control over it. In the same way, why would we take pride in our sanctification?  If you are not tempted by a besetting sin of a brother or sister, the appropriate response is to thank God for doing an unseen work within you that has freed you from that sin.  Looking down your nose at that person makes no sense.

The fact that killing the infecting agent of sin is a work of God does not mean that we have no role to play.  I can do a lot of things to either help or hurt my physical immune system.  I don’t get a cold because I don’t get enough sleep.  I get a cold because a lack of sleep wears my immune system down.  I think that is a similar role that we play in our sanctification; our spiritual immune system.

“There are many aspects to this active role that we are to play in sanctification. We are to “Strive…for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14); we are to “abstain from immorality” and so obey the will of God, which is our “sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3) John says that those who hope to be like Christ when he appears will actively work at purification in this life “And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3)… This kind of striving for obedience to God and for holiness may involve great effort on our part, for Peter tells his readers to “make every effort” to grow in character traits that accord with godliness (2 Peter 1:5).” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Pg 754)

All that we do in our lives will be either to enhance or inhibit our spiritual immune systems.  It is helpful to me to think of spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading and meditation (Ps 1:2, Matt. 4:4, John 17:17), Prayer (Eph 6:18, Phil 4:6), Worship (Eph. 5:18-20), Witnessing (Matt 28:19-20), Christian fellowship (Heb. 10:24-25) and self-discipline / self-control (Gal. 5:23, Titus 1:8) as sanctification enhancers (immune system enhancers).  Those are all activities that God has told us to strive after because they create soft hearts.  Sin is easily killed in soft hearts.

God’s job is to kill sin.  My job is to  create the perfect environment for sin killing.

The believers who neglect the care of their own souls will continue to suffer the ailments of sin and will not experience growth and sanctification.

Take care of your spiritual immune system and it will take care of you.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for taking the sting of death out of sin for me.  Thank you for saving me from that deadly ailment.  Father, continue your cleansing work within me until I am free of sin and like Christ.  I cannot wait for that day.  I am so tired of being sick with sin.  Lord, give me the strength and the desire to create the perfect environment for you to work in my life.     Amen


  1. […] SPIRITUAL IMMUNE SYSTEM – Feb. 8 (boyslumber.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Great analogy, JD, of the flu to sin. And I love the idea of sin being easy to kill in a soft heart, and the line: “My job is to create the perfect environment for sin killing.” Inspiring and edifying!

  3. Loved your post. It’s so easy in a hectic culture to run yourself ragged and not take care of yourself–and then wonder why you’re falling apart. Likewise, it is also easy to put personal sanctification on a pedestal it isn’t meant to have…to become a “health nut”, both in a physical and spiritual sense–someone obsessed with every little habit of diet and exercise, every little faith-ritual you can get your hands on, and make personal well-being an idol. The important thing is to maintain the balance of passive and active, and to remember that it is God, and not your Perfect Plan, that will bring you inner peace and satisfaction. Great stuff!!

  4. Reblogged this on Shield of God..

  5. Beautifully said… I particularly liked your use of the metaphor…The spiritual immune system is a perfect way of describing a whole new “system” that we are working with now. many blessings to you! and may we all receive healing from Christ for our ailments and cleansing of our sins.

  6. I like your writing style and your ideas a lot since I’ve been reading or scanning for a couple weeks. This post seemed about 20% out of balance to me. I’m sensitive to an overemphasis on sanctification in a recent environment and would also point up such things as the humanly active resistance of the devil (“and he will flee”) and the active putting away of the deeds of the body, always giving honor to the indwelling Lord as we play our roles (which you did nicely point out). Overall, I surely appreciate your writing!

  7. […] SPIRITUAL IMMUNE SYSTEM – Feb. 8 (boyslumber.wordpress.com) […]

  8. Acclimating to the Sahara. Chuckle 😉 Great post, and I pray you will feel better soon!

  9. Thank you for this wonderful devotion. It is so easy to continually think on one’s physical immune system when afflicted with chronic disease and neglect our spiritual immune system. ‘If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.’ Galatians 5:25 KJV

  10. Wonderful Word!

  11. Nice juxtaposition. Showing love toward God by loving our enemies and neighbors is extremely important as well.

  12. Glad you and your family are on the other side of the virus. Have been praying for you! Great analogy: “I just passively lay on the couch, yielded and trusted my immune system to work in me” reminding me to “Be still and know that I am God”

  13. Wonderfully written, thank you for the “fellowship” offering of your shared teaching.

  14. Good post. The Lord’s healing be upon you and those you love.
    “make every effort” to grow in character traits that accord with godliness” (2 Peter 1:5) which many translations offer including NIV. I am not a King James only fan but I do like the KJV translation, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;” It is not a big thing when understood but, it takes out any reference that we could “work out” our salvation.

  15. What an interesting metaphor and observation. That’ll preach! Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  16. So very richly put . . . thank you. Praying you feel totally better soon. ( :

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