Our nation has been called to come together to fight an invisible enemy – COVID-19.
What started in China and was a distant concern is now our concern.
Washing hands and testing have been repeated as key components to control COVID-19.
COVID-19 has no respect for race, status, wealth or fame.
Myths abound about COVID-19 and how to beat it.
We want to protect others and ourselves and are washing our hands like crazy, but are realizing how vulnerable we are.
ANOTHER INVISIBLE ENEMY EXISTS; WE MUST STOP TO PAY ATTENTION
While our world has stopped to pay attention to a physical threat, we are wise to consider another invisible enemy — sin.
Why? Because similarities abound.
Sin is real, and like COVID-19, respects no person, regardless of race, status, wealth or fame.
It spreads as we pass our moral decadences and self-love from one person to another, whether it’s gossiping, lying, slander, drug abuse, sexual sins or impure motives.
Sin kills our innocence and purity. It infects our relationships, communities and world.
Sin is insidious. It’s subtle, but with harmful effects.
As with the COVID-19, myths and misinformation about sin are passed person to person. We’re told there’s much to do about nothing. There’s no such thing as sin. Believe what you want. There’s nothing to worry about. You’re not really going to die in sin and be eternally separated from God.
We laugh and scoff at the idea of Satan, that he is real. We ignore that the evil displayed in our world is fueled by spiritual forces of wickedness. We don’t believe in an afterlife. We say a loving God wouldn’t send anybody to hell while ignoring our responsibility for our eternal destiny; that it is our refusal of God’s invitation to salvation through Christ that seals our eternal separation from Him.
We ignore how illogical it is to think God would assign us to live in Christ’s eternal presence in heaven if we don’t want anything to do with Him now.
We think after we die, God will make the determination if we go to heaven or hell when, in fact, the determination is made while we are alive on the basis of if we have rejected or received Christ as our Savior.
WHAT WE WANT TO THINK DOESN’T CHANGE FACTS
Images of bikini-clad girls and fun-loving guys at beaches alternate on our screens between masked, gloved nurses and doctors treating virus-ridden patients at hospitals. Did the fun-loving beachgoers not know about COVID-19? Did they not care? Had they already bought their airline tickets, booked their hotels and the thought of giving up their plans and losing money led them to go with the hope they’d be alright?
We might ask ourself the same questions. The Bible tells us it is appointed once to die and that we will all appear before the judgment seat of God.
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. We are warned that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; that no man comes to the Father but through Him.
We are invited to confess our sins, knowing that God is merciful and gracious to forgive us. It is explained clearly that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved.
Do we not know? Do we not care? Are we enjoying our lives and the thought of turning from self and sin to follow Christ lead us to the same conclusion as the beach goers — to go on as normal and hope for the best?
A HOPE THAT DISAPPOINTS, A HOPE THAT BRINGS JOY
In the Bible, there’s a parable about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man dies and goes to hades. The poor man dies and goes to paradise. The rich man sees the poor man in glory and asks if he will bring him a dip of water. It’s explained to him that it’s not possible. There’s a chasm that can’t be crossed. (Think quarantine.)
Coming to grips with his eternal separation from heaven, the rich man asks if someone might go to earth to warn his family.
That is exactly what God did in mercy. He sent Jesus from heaven to earth to warn us that life exists in one of two places after we die — heaven or hell, and there’s a chasm that won’t be crossed after we die. Then Jesus did the ultimate. He stepped up and took our sins on the cross so that the penalty for them is paid and we can appear before God clean and free to live eternally in a place that is called the third heaven. Yes, there are three heavens.
What we once didn’t understand, we now better understand about the heavens. With our naked eye, we see the sky, the atmosphere that is called by some “heaven.” (Is 55:10-11) Early civilizations probably assumed there was nothing beyond the visible heaven. But we know there is a “second heaven,” a universe of stars, planets, meteors and galaxies. The Bible refers to this second heaven in Genesis 1:14-17 mentioning “heavens” with an “s.”
Many today believe we have only two heavens; refusing to believe that there is a third heaven brimming with life — with God, Jesus, angels, those who have physically died on earth and are now living there. To ignore this third heaven would liken us to the first civilization who might have argued against a second heaven because they hadn’t seen it or experienced it.
The Bible abounds with references to this third heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul describes being caught up to the third heaven.
King Solomon, known for his wisdom, referred to God and the heaven of heavens.
The third heaven is sometimes referred to as “highest heavens.”
John was given visions of the third heaven, which is recorded in Revelation.
Jesus said He came down from heaven (John 6:38) and that He was going up again. His disciples watched Him ascend into the clouds as recorded in Acts 1:9. Angels who were present at Jesus’s ascension said Jesus would one day come back through the clouds.
There is a third heaven.
AS THERE ARE 3 HEAVENS; 3 PARTS OF MAN
Just as there are three heavens, although our eye only sees the first, there are three parts of man: body, soul and spirit. We see the outer person, but we know that there is more than hair, skin and nails.
We have explored and seen the inner man — the organs, brains, vessels, muscles. But there is a third part of us that the Bible refers to as our inner most being. (Psalm 51:6, Proverbs 20:27, 2 Corinthians 4:16)
First Thessalonians 5:23 makes clear our three parts. It says, “Now may the God of peace Himself set you aside entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our spirit that is yet to be seen, even as the third heaven is yet to be seen, is of great concern to God, the Great Physician. Jesus came to save us from sin, a spiritual virus that courses through our body and causes eternal death; separation from God.
Why is it hard to believe that God would separate people who have infected sin souls from those whose souls Jesus has cleansed? Earthly physicians separate people with COVID-19 from people who don’t have it. Our Heavenly Father separates people who refuse to confess their sin and therefor die in sin from people whose sin has been forgiven and die in Christ Jesus.
TEST YOURSELF, THE BIBLE SAYS
Just as we see the importance of testing to see if we have COVID-19, God tells us to test ourselves spiritually to see if we have sin or Christ in ourselves.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves,” the Scripture says. It continues, “Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
Is Christ in you?
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DIE IN OUR SIN AND HAVE NOT BEEN CLEANSED?
Romans 6:23 is very specific about what happens if we die with our sin. “For the wages of sin is death.” This means separation from God for eternity.
If you think that sounds horrible, you’re right. Your Heavenly Father agrees with you. That’s why He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to earth to die for our sins. That’s why Jesus took the death blows for our sin.
They don’t want sin to separate us from them. That is why they offer the free gift of God — eternal life in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:23.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
As an earthly physician can do a heart transplant, our Great Physician can give us a new heart — His.
Ezekiel 36:26 explains God’s treatment for our dire condition: “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you,”
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE CONFESS OUR SIN?
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9.
What good news! There couldn’t be any better news. God forgives us when we confess our sins to Him. He gives us His Holy Spirit to live in us and to empower us to live for God.
ARE YOU READY TO CONFESS YOUR SIN?
When the Holy Spirit convicted us that we are a sinner in need of a Savior, Christ stands with open arms to receive us.
You can use the following prayer to pour out your confession of sin and that Jesus is Lord; to open your heart to receive Him.
Heavenly Father, I know I’ve sinned. I believe that Jesus came from heaven to earth to die on the cross for me. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Come into my heart and spirit as Lord and Savior. I commit my life to You.
If you sincerely prayed that prayer, God heard you and in grace forgave you your sins and gifted you with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
CELEBRATE YOUR DECISION
Tell someone. Share your decision with someone who will celebrate with you. I’d love to know of your decision!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my website, debbietaylorwilliams.com and click MEET JESUS, which will provide you with additional Scriptures to assure you of your salvation. Call a pastor or a friend who can help you grow in your faith.
COVID-19 is causing loved ones to be separated. There’s a worse separation that will happen one day, however, for those who deny God’s gift of forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Go to Him today. Pray. Tell others.
Debbie Williams is the founder and president of Hill Country Ministries. She is in demand as a lecturer across the nation and author of several books.