Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (ESV)
I don’t know about you guys, but this social distancing thing is about to drive me nuts. Sometimes I feel like if I hear those words again I will scream. You know, Facetime is good, but I’m ready to see my kids and grandkids and get some hugs. However, I must admit that this practice of social distancing (cringe) has prompted me to put some thought into spiritual distancing.
When we consider social distancing the idea is not to separate ourselves from other people per se; it is distancing ourselves from the possibility of contracting a virus that could make us extremely ill and possibly kill us.
Let’s be honest, we don’t want the coronavirus and we will do pretty much whatever it takes to keep from getting it. We’ll wear masks in public even at the risk of looking a little stupid and we’ll stand at least 6 feet away from other people. We’ll wear gloves, wash our hands until they shrivel and sanitize them until they are bone dry. Many of us will even work from home. The idea is to stay away from this virus. So, when it comes to spiritual distancing, I have questioned myself, At what lengths will you go to, Steve, to distance yourself from every form of evil?
The scriptures are ripe when it comes to commanding us to flee sin. Paul tells us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22) and among other things in 1 Timothy 6:6-11, he tells us to flee the love of money for it is the root of all kinds of evil. Paul also exhorted us to consider ourselves dead to sin, not let sin reign in our bodies nor present our bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness (Romans 6:11-13).
Jesus had an extreme view of distancing ourselves from sin. He said, If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30 ESV)
Now, I don’t think Jesus was telling us to literally tear out our right eye and cut off our right hand. If I tear out my right eye I can still sin with my left eye. And if I cut off my right hand I can still sin with my left. I believe Jesus was telling us to go to extreme measures to get rid of those things in our lives that cause us to sin.
The great Puritan preacher John Owen once said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” If we will heed the ordinances set forth by our governing officials to curb the spread of the coronavirus, should we not much more heed the commands of God to kill the spread of sin in our lives? Social distancing (from viruses) is a good thing, but spiritual distancing (from sin) is far better. Sin is the far worst illness.
How many of us have resisted to the point of bloodshed striving against sin (Hebrews 12:4)? Are we doing whatever it takes to distance ourselves from sin?
Scriptures for meditation: