Several years ago I was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider. The toxic venom of this small spider contains enzymes that break down cells and tissue. The bite itself often goes unnoticed but the effects begin to show up within a few hours.
It started as just a tiny red pinpoint topped by a blister. By the next morning the red area was about the size of a quarter and slightly inflamed. Twelve hours later, it had grown to the size of a silver dollar. The redness, inflammation, and heat confirmed I needed to get to a doctor.
The nurse worked me into the doctor’s schedule that day. The doctor took the wound seriously and treated it aggressively. During that first visit, they gave me a tetanus shot, a powerful antibiotic shot, and opened the bite to drain the infection. (My apologies to those of you with a squeamish tummy!) The doctor also prescribed oral antibiotics and I returned to his office four days in a row for treatment.
The bite, subsequent infection, and treatment affected my entire body. Because the bite was high on my thigh, in addition to pain and fever, I also had trouble walking for a week or so. That tiny little wound had far-reaching consequences.
Sin is like that spider bite. Even one small little compromise with the ways of the world can work its way through the layers of our lives, destroying everything in its path. Unlike the spider bite, sin’s destruction will reach beyond our own life, affecting the church and everyone around us.
What’s the cure for sinful compromise? Cut it out. Get rid of it completely. The longer we wait, the more radical the action must be.
God shows us a four-step process for radically dealing with sin in the book of Ezra. When Ezra the priest learns that many of the people – including the leaders – had disobeyed God by marrying pagan women, he called them to obedience and boldly led the process for treating the sin condition.
The entire story is found in Ezra 9 and 10, but the heart of dealing with the sin is in Ezra 10:1-17. Ezra guided the people through a four-step course of action to deal with their sin and restore their relationship with God and the rest of the community.
- Recognition: The sin in our lives must be identified and acknowledged.
- Repentance: Not only must be agree with God that our behavior is indeed sin, but we must also be grieved over it to the point of turning from it in disgust.
- Removal: True repentance always leads us to rid our lives of the sin God has revealed to us without delay.
- Restoration: The presence of sin strains our relationships with God and other people. The removal of sin brings restoration and renewal of those same relationships.
Believers must deal with sin – no matter how “small” – radically and aggressively before it spreads its poison. Let’s all ask God to show us any “pinpoints” of sin so we can cut it out and commit to lives without compromise.
In what ways have you seen far-reaching effects of even “small” sinful compromise?