This post is taken from a recent sermon on our “Spiritual Sicknesses Series.”
Here’s a trivia question for you: who killed the most people in World War 1?
Nope. Not the evil Central Powers. Not the victorious allies, either!
The killer was a little guy—microscopic, even! The worst killer of 1918 was the flu.
The Saturday Evening Post said that, “No recorded pestilence before or since has equaled the 1918–1919 influenza death toll in total numbers. In those years, an estimated 21,000,000 died of influenza-pneumonia throughout the world, some 850,000 in the United States alone.” More lives were lost in the flu epidemic than in all of the battlefields of World War 1. Recent numbers indicate that 5% of the world’s population died. All because of the flu!
There are all sorts of reasons that this flu was particularly bad.
It was an especially virulent strain. Counter-intuitively, it was more serious for the healthy. An immune over-reaction is what caused most of the deaths.
People were traveling more than ever. Other than those pesky Titanic and Lusitania incidents, inter-continental travel was the safest and most affordable it had ever been in history. The war contributed towards globalization.
No real effective treatments were available for the flu. Chicken noodle soup, fluids, and rest was about the best we could hope for.
One of the most deadly things about it was that it was not particularly well understood.
When you think about it, the Spanish Flu makes a pretty good description for what happens in sin.
Sin always seems to get a little bit “easier.” Pornography is a click away. Gossip is a text away. Greed is a credit card away. Distraction is a tweet away. We come into more contact with sin than we ever imagined possible.
We don’t understand it all that well. We think we’ve got the important stuff in life figured out, but we don’t realize just how vulnerable it is. We don’t realize how it takes over us and turns us into factories to produce more and more of it, hurting more and more people.
Sin and the flu can be pretty similar…
Sin takes over people. Just like the flu!
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.” (John 8:34)
Sin has a way of sneaking in and becoming our master. Jesus said that we can only have one master! So Paul warned us, “Give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27) I like the NIV Better “Don’t give the devil a foothold.” The old church sign says, “Give him an inch and he’ll be your ruler!”
Sin spreads in influence. It replicates and replicates and replicates…
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
“Avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene!” (2 Timothy 2:16-18)
Sin makes us sick. We might not have a fever and aches and pains, but it keeps us from thinking, feeling, and living the way we want to.
Romans 1:21-22 “…they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”
Scripture says that sin can actually break our thinking!
Jeremiah 2:5 records this question from God to his people: “What wrong did your fathers find in me, that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness and became worthless?” Of course the answer is—there was no fault to be found in God. There was fault in the finder!
1 Timothy 4:1-2 “The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared….”
“Desire, when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)
That’s not a baby you want to welcome into the world!
“The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
What was the devil’s first lie? You will not surely die!
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
“For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
This is where the similarities end, though…
The flu kills a small percentage of its victims. Sin kills all.
The flu comes from outside. But Jesus says that sin comes from within (Mark 7:21-23).
But the good news is—we actually have a cure for the sin problem. The best we can do with the flu is try to prevent it and manage the symptoms. But with sin, there’s a cure: “Where sin increased, GRACE ABOUNDED ALL THE MORE, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21)
What would you add?