Looking back over the last year, we have witnessed some real restrictions on our lives. The world has been shut down by governments, and although we are now the other side of lockdown and other restrictions in England, people have got used to many of these restrictions and are continuing to do some of them.
We also have what has been described as a “ping-demic” here because of the number of people who are being contacted because according to the Covid 19 track and trace app, they have been in contact with someone who was infected.
So, what are the steps people have
The point of wearing a mask is to restrict the transfer of the virus from person to person. If we wear a mask, the argument goes, we protect ourselves if someone else has the virus, and we also protect others. The chance of the virus being passed on is massively reduced if we wear a mask.
Self isolation – fear of the virus transferring from one person to another is real. Many feel that the only way to protect themselves from the spread is to isolate.
Isolation is also used when an infection is identified. Quarantine means no contact and therefore no transfer.
Quarantine is either voluntary or imposed and involuntary.
Hygiene is key. It is used not just in treatment of those infected, but also as a means of ensuring infection doesn’t spread.
It seems odd that people are being advised to wash their hands as if they don’t do it already.
As an aside On a purely hygiene level, hand washing was commanded thousands of years before medical science realised it was important. (Note: Leviticus 15 commands washing in clean (can also be translated RUNNING) water for hygiene purposes and medical science didn’t start recommending washing hands at all until well after Semmelweis first recognised the connection between hand washing and infection in 1846, and washing hands under running water wasn’t generally recommended until the 20th Century. So much for Scripture being backward …
Spiritual Applications …
The medical advice surrounding COVID-19 has some interesting parallels and applications with the conversation that God has with the priests.
First read the passage: Haggai 2v10–19.
Wanted to look at Coronavirus advice and consider some spiritual applications to it which we might take on board ..
However infectious and deadly Coronavirus has been over this last year, it was not 100% deadly. But the virus called Sin can not only kill the body, but if it s not dealt with, it will kill the soul stone dead – and the fatality rate for unconfessed sin is 100%.
Haggai has some interesting parallels and similarities with the Corona issues …
Read again Haggai 2:12–13
“If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?
The priests answered, No.
Then Haggai said, If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?
Yes, the priests replied, it becomes defiled.”
Now re-write it in the light of the Corona virus …
If someone has been declared free of COVID-19, and they come into contact with an infected person, does their health transfer to that person?
If a healthy person spends time in close proximity with someone who is infected with Corona virus without taking any preventative measures, are they likely to catch it?
God says to the people of Haggai’s time that defiled (i.e contaminated) things will infect consecrated (i.e. pure and clean) things. That reverberates across time and speaks to us today – it is true when we look at the physical realm with dirt or germs, but the same thing holds true with sin and righteousness.
Sin has the potential to contaminate a righteous person, God says to Cain “Sin is crouching at your door” (Genesis 4:7). We must understand that we can all be contaminated by sin and that our righteousness in and of itself will not make others righteous.
(There is only one instance where Scriptures hint that our righteousness covers someone else. It is when Christians are married to unbelievers …
1 Corinthians 7:13–14 “if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” But note that this is a very specific point about a very specific situation and should not be extrapolated to apply to all situations.)
What is our relationship with the world, what does the Bible say about how are things defiled? The bottom line is this, unclean things will always defile clean things.
This idea is alluded to in the New Testament which talks about the world polluting us. So for example James says:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. (James 1:27)
It is astounding really how many people actually believe that a certain action or TV show or computer game, series of books or a certain hobby will not adversely affect them. The same is true for the people we allow to have influence in our lives, the people we choose as friends. How many times does someone say, “I know this person is toxic, but I will change him/her by my witness”?
So let s look at the advice given by government and look at what spiritual applications there might be …
Self-isolation / quarantine
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
Pharisees were set apart for the work – in fact that is what Pharisee means, it means set apart one . Now the Pharisees took this to an extreme and fell foul of it, but the principle is to keep oneself from being polluted by the world …
I’ve just quoted James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. , Peter talks of escaping the corruption of the world:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”. (2 Peter 1:3–4)
So, HOW do we do that?
Watch the company we keep
We must be aware that some people we come across are more dangerous than others:
Proverbs 22:24–25 “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared”.
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character”.
There is a place for understanding the risk that some people pose years ago, there was an understanding that peer pressure has power and I certainly remember being warned not to “get in with a bad crowd”, and on one occasion being warned that a certain friend was not good for me and that I would be wise to find another friend.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people”.
Ephesians 5:6–7 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them”.
Titus 3:9–11 “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned”.
Find the RIGHT friends – if bad company corrupts Good character, then it is reasonable to think that good company will at least encourage good character.
and the best friend you will find? – Jesus. Jesus also promised the Holy Spirit who John says will lead us into all truth (John 16:13). Ultimately, our relationship with Jesus is the RIGHT kind of friendship to pursue!
Be careful about what we let into our spirits
Beware Distraction – whatever we put our attention towards, that is what will inform and affect us. So Paul says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things”. (Philippians 4:8). When we focus on these things, our own radars are tuned in more effectively.
Solomon gives lots of advice in Proverbs and it is overwhelmingly advice about how we control the inner man. There are too may to quote them all this morning, So I am just going to look at one small section, Proverbs 4:23–27 (read).
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.
Then goes on to give us some hints as to how …
4:24: “Keep your mouth free of perversity”; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. watch what we say . James 3 talks a lot about the tongue. We think that we control our tongue, the Bible says that it is difficult to impossible to control it, and if we don’t control it, it will control us!
4:25: “Let your eyes look straight ahead”; fix your gaze directly before you”. watch what we allow in. Here Proverbs talks of what our eyes look at which is important, but draw out also, what we listen to and what we read. So all media, news outlets, social media falls into this category, as do films, radio stations, books, video games, web pages the list is almost endless.
4:26,27: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways”. Watch how we live our lives, what we DO, where we GO, these things can influence us far more than we realise
Clean and disinfect ourselves
The first two points are about protection, this is about getting rid of all uncleanliness.
Ephesians 4:31 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice”.
James says something similar: “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:21).
The way we do this James says is described as washing your hands …
James 4:8. “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded”.
Clean hands are described as one of those characteristics which qualify us to approach the throne of heaven. Psalms 24:3–4 “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god”.
Clean hands, I believe, describe our actions. So spiritually, washing your hands refers to actions of repentance and confession about our actions. It describes coming before the Lord and allowing Him to wash us clean, and as Isaiah says, God will wash us clean:
“Though your sins be scarlet they shall be washed white as snow” Isaiah 1:18
And other OT writers say similar things – here are just a couple:
Psalms 51:2 “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”.
Ezekiel 36:25 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols”.
And the NT says similar things:
This is corporate, not individual, but Ephesians 5:26 talks about making the church holy: “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word”.
Titus 3:5 “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”.
Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul describes the lifestyles of those who live in the world, and in v11 says this “and that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”.
Repentance is washing our souls clean of the virus called sin, that is partly what is meant when the Bible describes Baptism as a washing …
1 Peter 3:21 “water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
Acts 22:16 “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name”.
The good news is that while we might get contaminated by sin, we have a cure and an inoculation …
Jesus touched lepers, bleeding women, dead things: things that defiled normal people. And unlike us, rather then being made unclean by them, Jesus brought cleansing, healing and life to them.
Luke 5:12–13 “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, he said. Be clean! And immediately the leprosy left him”.
However unclean we are or however unclean we feel, When we bring our uncleanliness to Jesus, he can make us clean.
The good news in all of the chaos around us is this.
One thing I have been really bothered by, one thing which has really got to me is something I’ve seen all around me, and it is something which I’ve seen Christians fall victim to as well as those who have no faith and that is fear. It has really upset me to see Christians especially almost cowering in fear at the virus, and fear is not or should not should not be part of normal Christian experience.
Let’s remember two basic things …
- God is sovereign. Oliver Cromwell is attributed as saying “trust in God but keep your power dry”, meaning we play our part and we let God play his. Once we have done all we can do, all we need to know is that God is able to take care of the rest. And bluntly, (like the three friends in Daniel said) even if he doesn’t, we still love and serve him.
- The more destructive and fatal contagion is not COVID-19, it is unrighteousness. It is sin, it is going our way and not God s way and believing that we are ok because we are good enough.
We can know that Jesus dies to bring about an inoculation against the disease called sin, and his inoculation if you will take it is 100% effective.
This is very binary
Ignoring the gift of life through Jesus is 100% fatal
Accepting the gift is 100% effective.