A suppressed virus will always return

It’s not just Britain then -and it probably isn’t just about a new mutation. Around the world, coun tries are bracing themselves for a third wave of Coronavirus.  Today, the news attention has shifted focused form the South East of England to South Korea which is experiencing its own third wave of the virus.

In terms of the pandemic, this gives us an important reminder that until the virus iscompletely dealt with, either that it some how runs its course either because a mixture of it running its course, mutations and better treatment lesson the threat from it or because a level of her4d immunity is developed through a mixture of vaccines and people building immunity antibodies through exposure to the virus then we will need to learn to live with it. My own personal hunch is that every lockdown is likely to result in spikes either side as well but I write as an armchair critic so take my predictions with a pinch of salt.

In my Christmas Day sermon, I talked about the far more deadly, far more viral problem of sin.  This seems to be a timely opportunity to remind one another that as with the suppression of COVID, our attempts to suppress sin and temptation will not deal with the problem at root. That of course is what we try to do and in fact it is probably a good way of understanding legalistic approaches to godliness. We hope that we can suppress sin with the weight of law. However, the Bible is clear that this is not good enough.

“3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature”[1]

Sin could not be dealt with through legal submission. It had to be defeated. 

“So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”[2]

Note also that as well as that theme applying to the problem of the penalty of sin, becauser the Bible pictures life here as “now and not yet” s that there is an ongoing work of sanctification to happen that the analogy gets us thinking about personal holiness.

John Owen famously said

“be killing sin or it will be killing you.” “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

This is also a reference to Romans 8. In the light of our freedom from condemnation and the promise of no separation, knowing the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to put sinful desires to death.

“ if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,[f] you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children[g] of God.”[3]

This is not about simply trying to suppress a desire by distraction ourselves form it. It is to seek to deal with the root problem. We ask the Holy Spirit to take away the love we have for that sin, to help us to see its ugliness and uselessness and at the same time to discover the greater joy, beauty and hope that we find in Christ.

Let’s learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and may 2021 be a year when we don’t simply seek to suppress sin but to see it killed. 

[1] Romans 8:3

[2] Romans 8:3b-4.

[3] Romans 8:13-14.

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