Spiritual Immune System?
By Jon W. Quinn
John says something interesting to Gaius. He says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2). We do not often think of the soul “prospering” and being in “good health.” But we do need to be concerned about our spiritual health. In fact, it should take the priority even over our physical health. The body is destined to perish no matter how healthy it is right now, but the soul will live on and our eternal circumstance will depend on how well we have taken care of it.
Like most good things, having spiritual vitality and strength takes effort. Conscious thought and effort are required - it is not a “hit or miss” thing… we can be assured of good spiritual health and a wonderful eternity if we are willing to do what the Lord says is necessary. (2 Peter 1:5-11). One of the most basic ingredients to good health is a working immune system.
Protection Against the Unavoidable
Without a healthy immune system, we can be killed by relatively small threats to our health. The aids virus does not kill directly, but it allows other sickness to do the damage by destroying one of the body's natural defenses. Our bodies are designed with an elaborate mechanism to combat viruses and bacteria that may get past our outer defenses (our skin, etc.) and infiltrate our bodies. We produce “antibodies” which seek out the disease causing invaders and destroy them before they can do too much harm, Without these antibodies (the aids problem is that it attacks the immune system causing a deficiency in the production of these antibodies), what would have been a three day flu ends up being fatal because there is nothing to stop the infiltrators. This is how a healthy immune system serves to ward off disease. The world is full of things that can cause us to be sick, we simply cannot avoid coming into contact with all of it. But with an healthy immune system, the consequences will be short and our body will heal itself, or perhaps get rid of the problem without our even noticing it.
Spiritually, how strong is our ability to withstand temptation, false teaching, persecution and simple neglect. Temptation and spiritual hardship are as inevitable on the spiritual side as dealing with germs on the physical side. We can't live in a “bubble.” You may be aware that some with immune deficiencies have resorted to living in a sterile environment in a bubble like structure. Such mechanisms may be somewhat successful in keeping out germs on the physical side, but not t lusts, sinful thoughts, hatreds and jealousies on the spiritual side.
Going “out of the world” to avoid all contact with temptation is not possible nor recommended by Jesus (John 17:15; Cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9,10). Spiritually speaking, we need to build up our “resistance” to sin and it's causes (James 4:7).
Take Heed. We must be aware of our environment and the possible dangers we face. We ought not to be casual about our spiritual health and take risks. If we think we are impervious, we may well find out differently the hard way. Many fatal accidents happen due to the foolish behavior of people who think “It cannot happen to me.” There are automobile accidents and drownings and accidental shootings and other tragedies caused by risk-taking people who think they can ignore caution only to discover otherwise. Likewise, spiritually, we need to “take heed” - “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Think Smart. We must “prepare our minds” for action. The Bible says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:13-16). Think Smart 1 Peter 1:13-16
Our goal must be the grace that we receive from Jesus upon His return. That is our hope. Because of this hope, and because it is such an integral part of our life, we are happy to modify our behavior. The phrase “preparing your minds” is taken from a common idea of that day when someone would have a task to perform. A soldier going to battle would equip himself with his armor or weapons. A farmer would get his tools ready. A runner would put on clothing which offered more freedom of movement. They were “preparing” themselves for the task at hand. We are to “prepare our minds” to live holy lives before the Lord. We must live “circumspectly” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Live Smart. Having prepared our minds to live holy lives, we then make those intentions reality. The teachings of Jesus have practical application to our lives each and every day. It does little good to know the right thing to do and then not to do it. In fact, it is sinful to neglect our responsibility in such a way. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).
Ultimately, any spiritual protection or strength we gain from our faith will come through application of the truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus will be seen in our conduct, and our words and thoughts will have little value without the application of God's truth. Jesus said, “...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" but also makes it clear that this truth which makes us free must be applied to our lives. In fact, this famous statement is really only the second half of the complete sentence which began, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” It is on the basis of continuing in His word that we are made free by the truth (John 8:31,32).
From the Bradley Banner 6/29/2003
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915