Written by Sue Ozzard
I shared this insight at the February 2019 Encounter Weekend and was then asked if I would write it down as it might help others.
At the Encounter Weekend Clive Jackson was talking about purifying yourself and guarding your heart. He was using words such as contamination and exposure to sin which then resulted in me remembering where I had recently been hearing that terminology. I’ll explain!
At the end of last year after a long drawn out process, my mum was diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB). Because of this, as a whole family we had to be screened to diagnose whether we had contracted TB too. TB is quite an unusual disease and it is very slow growing. We learnt that there would be a variety of possible results from the screening and they would all have different implications. So as I explain the options you will see that like TB, coming into contact with a sin or a painful situation where you have been sinned against, there are a variety of responses you may have.
From the onset I would like to stress that in no way am I suggesting that my mum is sinful or contracted TB due to sin. I am just using this as an analogy to help explain a concept.
The first result is that you may be ‘clear’. This means despite coming into contact with TB, your body did not succumb to it. So it could be said that with the analogy, you were exposed to sin and yet you managed to fight it off, deciding not to be affected by it.
Another result may be the exact opposite of being clear and you have actually been fully contaminated, so you have ‘active TB’. This can be likened to you having entered into sin yourself.
A different result may be that you have ‘latent TB’. This means that you have been contaminated by TB but it is lying dormant in your body. It is like TB has been put in a box so it is contained. You have no symptoms of the disease and you are not contagious. However, if your body’s immune system gets compromised, perhaps due to a severe illness, it is as if the lid of the box opens and TB gets released, slowly becoming active within the body. This could theoretically happen at any time.
To use this analogy to help you understand about sin, you may have been sinned against, and it may be a very painful experience. This has caused you to bury it and not really acknowledge the feelings you have surrounding this situation. Or you may have dealt with a part of it and not realised there is more. This means that it is still lying dormant inside you waiting for something to trigger the pain and the sin.
The last result I would like to explain is when it comes back classed as ‘borderline negative’. This means that the result is not 100% percent determined yet and so more time is needed and a re-test is necessary at a later date. This can be likened to someone who has not yet made up their mind as to whether they will be affected by the sin to which they have been exposed to. They may be deciding if they can be tempted to join in or will they shun it. Only time will tell.
The good news in all of this is that both TB and sin is treatable!! With TB you can take medication, but with sin you can turn to God and ask for forgiveness and be made whole again.
So here are some questions to think about:
Have I been exposed to sinful situations? Have I been sinned against? If so, what has my response been? Have I succumbed to sin myself, or have I shunned it off? Have I buried it? Or am I still toying with the situation and deciding whether to harbour a grudge, get revenge or let it go?
Some further things to think about, and to continue with the analogy:
One of the symptoms of TB is that it affects your breathing and another is exhaustion. Likewise, sin can suck the life out of you and leave you weary.
Additionally someone with TB can have unexplained weight loss. I would suggest that when someone is caught up with sin, it is difficult for them to carry on growing, they slowly spiritually starve.
As previously mentioned, TB is a slow growing disease, so a person may not realise for a very long time just how ill they are becoming. Similarly the effects of sin may be subtle at first but over time, the impact can be immense.
God wants you to ‘guard your heart’ (Proverbs 4v23). He also wants you to examine and maintain your heart. 2 Corinthians 7v1 says: ‘let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God’.
God believes in a full restoration and complete wholeness. It’s His gift to us. Just forgive, repent and receive!