Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
Death Lives in Us
We all know there are bacteria and other microscopic organisms within our bodies right now that could kill us. As long as each of those simple, yet potentially harmful, life forms stay in the region of the body they’re supposed to, they’re not a threat.
However, if they spread or move out of their “designated area” – that’s where the trouble begins. For instance if the e-coli bacteria in your lower intestines was somehow introduced farther up your digestive track there is a strong likelihood that you would get very sick and even die. That potential for death abides in all of us right now, that’s how we were created.
In addition, there are dozens of more common microorganisms and viruses all around and inside the body that could kill if it wasn’t for something else we were created with – that “something else” is our immune system. The immune system is one of the best defenses we have against sickness and disease.
Our Immune System Protects Against Current and Future Illness
There are many facets and aspects of the immune system, which are very complex – but basically it has three primary functions:
- To keep potential pathogens that exist within your body in check;
- Fight against the attack of other harmful pathogens from outside the body that somehow invade the closed physical system;
- It also prepares itself against future invasions.
Point number three is the basis for vaccine technology. Basically a vaccine is a nonlethal dose of some dangerous virus or bacteria that’s introduced into the physical system, to allow the body to build up a resistance against that specific threat.
That’s in fact, exactly how the influenza, measles, mumps and rubella fever vaccines all operate.
But it’s our immune system that does the actual work – it’s the immune system that God created in us that enables our body to stay healthy against those viral and bacterial invaders.
A Weakened Immune System Can Be Deadly
But what happens if the human immune system is compromised? Once the immune system is compromised – it’s very difficult for the body to successfully fight and defend against one of these unfriendly, ever-present organisms and the results tend to be fatal.
For the point of this illustration let’s consider the HIV pathogen, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus — meaning a virus that causes the immune system to become weak.
Viruses, including HIV, cannot replicate on their own – this is an important point. To survive, HIV must invade a healthy cell within someone’s body. Specifically, HIV likes to invade CD4 cells — special ”bug-fighting” cells that help the body’s immune system protect against germs and viruses that can make a person sick.
What HIV does is that it uses different enzymes – which are proteins responsible for a variety of cell functions – to “unlock” and enter the healthy CD4 cell, invading its command-and-control center which is called the nucleus.
HIV Hi-Jacks the Immune System – But HIV Doesn’t Actually Kill
Once that healthy command center is breached the HIV takes control, inserting its own destructive instructions into the cellular operation so that the reprogrammed CD4 cell will make new HIV copies instead of protective CD4 figthers. The infected CD4 cell is now an HIV factory, pumping out new viral material that will spread and invade other healthy immune cells. What happens is that the immune cells are no longer able to tell the rest of the body how to fight and defend against the other pathogens in the body. The only thing an HIV-infected immune cell is able to do is produce HIV – and then tell other CD4 cells to do the same.
What happens is, the body doesn’t die from the HIV – the body dies because the HIV blocks the immune system from doing its previous job of fighting and defending against microscopic attacks. Because the body isn’t instructed how to fight one of those other common germs or bacteria – those ever-present bugs are able to spread, multiply and kill the body.
Ultimately, the healthy immune cells, which are supposed to protect the body from sickness, disease and death, have been overrun. They are now preoccupied with replicating unproductive viral material that seeks only to multiply itself – becoming passive weapons that allow the true death to occur.
This example of the immune system and common microscopic threats, coupled with the insidious nature of HIV, is a helpful metaphor regarding the spiritual battle we face with sin everyday.
Sin Acts Exactly Like HIV
James chapter 1, verses 13-15
“Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by what is evil and He Himself tempts no one….But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his or her own evil desires, lust and passions. Then the evil desire, when it is conceived gives birth to sin and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.”
The potential for the deadly sin that James wrote about in this passage is always present in the metaphorical “body” of a believer, in much the same way that the deadly common germs and bacteria are ever present in our physical bodies.
- Physically speaking, those microorganisms can kill, but our immune system delivers us.
- Spiritually speaking, that potential for sin could ultimately kill us as well; however, believing in Jesus is the spiritual immune system that delivers us.
Faith Acts Like a Spiritual Immune System Against Sin
Sin acts as a killer spiritual virus that’s kept in check through faith. But if we allow that sin the opportunity, the spiritual immune system of the believer can be compromised. Such a compromise then allows the sin principle, which was dormant in their lives, to be resurrected.
Each of us as a believer, needs to be watchful and vigilante recognizing that apart from Christ, “…there is no good thing in me…” because even though Jesus is alive and resurrected in the hearts of true believers – He is not the only thing that can be resurrected into our lives.
If we allow it, sin can be resurrected in our spiritual body where it multiples itself – leading to our death.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons – image by BinaryCoCo