Virus alert! You’ve been infected!
In today’s world, that usually means that your computer or phone needs immediate attention, but the virus alert that we had at our house last week was not the digital kind. Instead, old fashioned sickness attacked hard and laid out all but two of our family with sore throats, congestion and fever. It seems Clif picked it up from his coworkers and then unknowingly brought it home to share with the rest of us. Fortunately, it raced through the house pretty quickly and all that remains are a few sniffles and a little coughing.
But as I was doing my best to stay healthy by giving the infected a wide berth, I started musing about how spiritual infections are much like the viral ones. Think about it. An ungrounded believer picks up an unbiblical idea from an unbelieving friend at work that seems to be harmless. But the thought incubates in his heart and shares it with someone else, who then shares it with another. Pretty soon, a whole community is showing symptoms of unbelief.
A classic example of this is the recent controversy over the subject of hell. Several prominent Christian leaders have wrestled with the concept of how eternal and miserable punishment can coexist with a God of love. Instead of delving into the scripture to understand that justice is an essential part of the nature of our loving God, they lean on human reasoning and come conclusions that demand that they, in a very public way, renounce their faith. As a result these aberrant ideas are now openly floating though the church today and have become just as contagious as the rampant viral infection going around at Clif’s jobsite. Ungrounded people pick these teachings up and pass them along in conversations or on social media without realizing they are in danger of the ill effects of ignoring the healthy truths revealed in the scriptures that fully explain the nature and character of our gracious God.
While there is generous scriptural latitude for discussion between believers of good faith on divergent interpretations or application of God’s written Word, it’s important to emphasize the danger of entertaining ideas that are diametrically opposed to the clear and unmistakable teachings of the Bible. On the surface, some of the observations or opinions we hear in the culture could easily be dismissed as “no big deal,” but Paul warned us that “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. … They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3, 4).
In the wake of so many public distensions every day it seems that season has arrived in full. In these times of confusion, faithful believers need to be ever vigilant to evaluate the beliefs of those who claim to be leaders and teachers in the church and to be on guard against the infectious influence of the world. The virulent deceptions of our enemy, who uses popular logic and appeals to emotions and “practical” rationalization, spread error in an attempt to break believers loose from the solid anchor of scripture. Every time he succeeds, we begin to elevate “what seems right in (our) own mind” (Prov. 16:25) above the clear teachings of the Bible. Believers must build their spiritual “immune system” and inoculate themselves against this contagion. It’s time to commit ourselves to spiritual health by studying and applying the Word of God and through diligent prayer, petition and thanksgiving, (invite) the peace of God to guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7)
.For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.