Duration: 365 days
THE SIN VIRUS
Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 18:21–32
During World War I the Spanish flu was a virulent strain of influenza that spread among troops of both sides in the conflict. More troops died of the flu than of injuries or infection from combat. As the war ended the virus traveled around the world on travel lanes and shipping routes, carried by its human victims. Ironically, when cities celebrated the end of the war with parades and parties, the numbers of infected people and deaths spiked yet again.
Experts estimate that the Spanish flu pandemic killed some 20 to 40 million people worldwide. A full 28 percent of the American population was infected, and an estimated 675,000 Americans died of the virus—ten times more than the number of troops who had died in World War I. At the pandemic’s height American schools and businesses closed and churches and stores barred their doors. If a home was flu-free, no one could visit. As an act of sheer self-preservation, it was necessary to keep the healthy people inside and the sick people out.
The Spanish flu, as tragic as it was, illustrates the more serious terminal condition from which we all suffer. We’re all infected with a virus called sin, a virus that keeps us in a state of separation from God. This passage makes it clear that God doesn’t take pleasure in punishing people; in fact, he is delighted when people turn from their sinful ways and follow him. But God’s holiness and perfection demand that sin must be paid for.
The Israelites knew that sin carried serious consequences. The cumulative and continuous sin of many generations eventually resulted in exile from their own land. Although the Israelites wanted to place the blame for their exile on the sins of previous generations, Ezekiel reminded them that God judges the conduct of each individual. The prophet appealed to them to repent of their own sins.
Despite our infection with the plague of sin, if we believe in Jesus, God welcomes us into heaven because he has provided the antidote for sin. On the cross Jesus took our sin upon himself and exchanged his perfection for our imperfection, his righteousness for our unrighteousness. God forgives us—even to the extent that he forgets our sins (verse 22). Jesus’ sacrifice fully satisfies the punishment for sin that God demands.
To Take Away
- Why do you think God needs to punish sin?
- What do you need to do to receive God’s forgiveness?
- Who do you know that needs to experience God’s forgiveness?
Copyright © 2006 by Zondervan.