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Only months ago very few people outside the world of medicine had ever heard of Ebola, may not have been able to pronounce it, and weren’t really concerned about it, but this incredible, deadly disease was across the ocean killing thousands of people and frightening millions to the verge of panic. When some Americans who were there trying to help were affected by this disease and came home, we began to pay attention. Then when we began to hear of people dying as a first Ebola patient in America succumbed to death we got concerned. In short order, some of the people who were trying to help the patient who had Ebola became infected and the level of concern became even greater. Now, the level of conversation and the demand for action increases almost hourly. “Stop people from coming to our country with this disease.” “Quarantine the people who have it so that no one else will get it.” But how do you discover who has it without people being involved in the testing and in so doing may subject themselves to become infected?
We who have the finest medical procedures in the world listen to some of our brightest explain that we are limited in fully understanding what this is going to do in our population. We keep hearing that we can contain it and it will never be here like it was in Africa. Then we hear of another person who may be infected and another. This is certainly not an attack on any of our medical profession, but it is to say that neither they nor we or all of us together have all the answers about life and death. While we think about, talk about and even are concerned about the spread of Ebola around the world, we have become desensitized to seeing the original pattern of Ebola identified in scripture as sin.
You see, like Ebola, sin is a destructive killer. When God made Adam and Eve and placed them in a perfect environment in the garden, He instructed them that everything there was theirs to enjoy and behold, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). While the temptation grew and the thoughts of their mind were warped as they looked and wanted to take of that tree, Satan came alongside with his lies and said you will not die; you’ll just be as smart as God, and Eve and Adam took of the tree.
Some people look at that moment in time and say, “Well, they didn’t die,” but oh, if you will look again you will see death as it begins to take hold of one part and then another and another of their life. Their relationship with God was broken and death occurred. Their relationship with each other was changed and death was affecting their marriage. The thoughts that flowed through their minds became warped and they began to think in terms of covering up their deeds, rationalizing their actions, staying away from God and the scripture’s presentation of sin’s infestation, hurt and fear, grief and death begin to be seen all around where this self-inflicted disease had arrived. Soon Adam and Eve would be in a mess, and out of the garden and in an unfriendly world that would keep on working against them because of their sin.
Like Ebola, sin is contagious, and the problem with Ebola is that you can be infected with it, not know it, and no one else may detect it. Then by the time the fever and the vomiting and the other expressions of this disease show up, you’ve already been around other people who did not know the severity of what you were carrying, nor did you. Sin has a way of presenting itself that is okay and nice and it’s just a part of our culture, our world. Only to find out in short order that this deadly disease is affecting you far deeper than you ever thought, is infecting everyone around you beyond what you thought, and whether it be someone at work or someone you married or someone who was born into your family, you’re disobedience toward God and the outbreak of your sin is going to touch their life. I have heard so many people say that, “What I do is my business, where I go, what I drink, the drugs I take, the attitude I have is nobody else’s concern or business but mine.” In our freedom-loving world, it sounds good, but wrong actions and sinful works always have consequences that affect the individual and infect people around you.
You’re more than welcome to disagree with me, and you can argue from the theological standpoint, or from the psychological standpoint and it’s going to come out the same, that sin has an incredible, deadly contagious component about it. What does the future hold for Ebola? As of yet, I have not heard one person boldly step forward and say, “Here’s what we can expect.” All we know is that it has spread and that it is a killer and at one time there were those who were saying that anyone who got infected died. While the numbers are minute, that has changed and some people have gotten well after having Ebola.
It is a wonderful joyful thing in the midst of all the kind of calamity that sin brings in our world that we, who know the living Lord Jesus Christ, have sin’s answer. It would kill, ravish and destroy. The Bible so clearly says the wages of sin is death. Just live in sin and wait for payday and death in every way and every place will happen. But when we in our churches and across the land announce the rest of that verse, it is indeed the good news from God, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Even now scientists are working at as fast and as feverish a pace they can go to find a vaccine that will neutralize and negate the spread of Ebola. As of yet, that has not happened. If it did, can you imagine the joy that would spread all across our land, across the ocean, and across the great continent of Africa where it has been destroying tens of thousands of people – that Ebola has been conquered.
Well, my friends, that is what we sing about, for Jesus has given us the victory over sin. That is what we preach about. That is why we give. That is why we send missionaries to the ends of the earth and to the doorstep of every community, because Christ does make a difference. He saves and he gives life abundantly now, but he gives life eternal. Thanks be to God! Regardless of how ravaging the infection of sin may be in your life, Jesus can save. Regardless of how you have ignored him and rejected his call to your heart, Jesus can save. Regardless of how sick you may be or self-confident you may be, Jesus saves. Trust him now. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12). Trust Him right now.