Blog

Our most fatal allergy; our most deadly addiction

Watching the incident with Luis Suarez biting a member of the opposition team has led many to ask, “Why would anyone do such a thing?” It seems bizarre especially in  the context of sport. But I think that the Bible gives us a true explanation of why we do seemingly irrational things. And we all do them. If you have never come away from some act or course of conduct and thought, “Why on earth did I do that?” then you have probably never looked long enough at your own actions.

 

Human beings are a mixture. We were made in the image of God and, although sin marred that, we still have that in us. It is what leads to beautiful acts and moments of creative genius and so on. But we are also fallen and sinful people. That is not a popular idea these days but it is one that makes sense of the crazy and downright evil acts that humans keep doing despite all advances in learning and science and culture.

 

I like to walk along the pathway that runs at the back of the cow meadow by the river front at Woodbridge. It is a lovely walk filled with the sights and sounds of nature. Yesterday, for example, I saw a warbler and a blackcap. And there are some truly beautiful sights as you walk along there to Kyson Point and then back, along the river wall, to Woodbridge.

 

But along with the pleasant and the beautiful comes the less beautiful. There are many brambles that are already growing strong. And spotting those reminded me that, beautiful as this planet is it is marred by what the Bible calls sin. When our first parents sinned God told them that the land, that was originally very fertile and easy to work, “will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:18). But that first sin also caused death, spiritual and physical, to enter into our experience as humans. And the result is that all of us are born with a natural allergy. Sin, according to J. I. Packer “is an anti-God allergy found in every human soul, the taproot of all active disobedience…”[1] In other words the things people usually associate with the word “sin” such as murder, theft, lying, greed, bitterness, jealousy, anger etc., are all the effects of sin which is, as the Oxford Group used to say, a kind of soul sickness.[2] It makes itself known in each of us differently. Some of us are more prone to anger than others. Some express anger outwardly in fits of rage or even of violence. Others do so by turning it inward into resentment and bitterness. The brambles of our inner sin condition are always there.

 

The soul sickness or anti-God allergy means that we reject God’s goodness and seek our wellbeing and happiness in created things instead. We are, at root, selfish and self-centred people. If you are not convinced then ask yourself the question that Augustine asked; “Who taught me to lie?” The obvious answer is that no one did. We learned to lie when our self-interest clashed with the demands of others.

 

Because everyone is affected by this sin disorder we are often impacted by the wrong doing of others and we react, from our own soul sickness, in wrong ways. Thus felt hurts often become simmering resentments that poison all of our relationships.

 

And we then seek to feel better about ourselves in various different, God avoiding, ways. In some cases this involved copious amounts of alcohol that led to a mental and eventually physical reliance on it just to get by. But others seek to respond to a perceived lack of self-worth (perhaps springing from the sins of others that impacted us) by becoming successful. Each new business deal gave them a brief sense of worth but it, like the alcoholic’s spree, only lasted for a short while and there was the need for the next one. Or it may be that the person determines to prove they can be better parents than they were and so they place intolerable burdens on themselves and their children.

 

And we cannot deal with this inner heart problem by attempting to do good things. Anyone who has tried to rid their garden of brambles knows that you only have to leave the tiniest bit behind in the ground and it will soon be flourishing all over again. And it is the same with the anti-God allergy of our hearts. For a while we can alter our outward behaviour. But sooner or later our inner soul sickness will surface again. Supressed jealousy will out. Suppressed anger will come to the surface again.

 

And all of these things spring from our failure to acknowledge God as we ought to, from our anti-God allergy. And this allergy is also addictive. It drives us further and further away from God. We deny his authority, and then we deny his existence. And the things we now see as acceptable behaviour God says are not and so we prefer to avoid God altogether because we think we are having a better time without him.

 

I said in the title that this is a fatal allergy and it is. God has said that the punishment for sin is eternal spiritual death. How that will look like no one knows. The Bible calls it hell because it will be the lack of all the good things that come from God and which we take for granted now even as we reject him. It is, though, the result of our choice. If spend our lives rejecting God why should he then let us into his heaven when those lives come to an end? The ultimate end of our anti-God allergy is an awful future without God’s blessings.

 

But thanks be to God that there is a solution. We have an anti-God allergy and we cannot cure ourselves of it. But we can submit ourselves to the master physician of our souls, Jesus Christ, and let him heal us. We can stop looking to other things for the answer to our inner heart troubles and recognise the real diagnosis. We have an anti-God allergy that has become a fatal addiction. Then we can ask God to forgive us because he has provided, in the sinless Jesus Christ, a solution to our problem. Sin required that we die both physically and spiritually. But Jesus died for us, taking the punishment for our sins. And he gives us his Holy Spirit who begins the process of making us whole again. Our anti-God allergy is being replaced by a more powerful pro-God force within us.

 

This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 



[1] J. I. Packer, “The glory of God and the Reviving of Religion” in A God Entranced Vision of All Things (ed. John Piper and Justin Taylor; Wheaton Ill.: Crossway, 2004), 104.

[2] The Oxford Group was an evangelical non-denominational renewal movement in the first half of the 20th Century. The first 80-100 men who would later become Alcoholics Anonymous were cured of their alcoholism through the gospel they proclaimed.

 

Subscribe to Blog

RSS Feed



Blog Posts

When our sorrow may be sinful
12 Sep 2016
Seeking more
09 Apr 2016
How do I work hard for fellow believers?
06 Jan 2016
Getting to the meat
05 Oct 2015
The beauty of God's choice of sinners
03 Aug 2015
Knowing it is for good
04 Jun 2015
Getting more from the Bible
08 Apr 2015
Seeing beyond the obvious
12 Jan 2015
Fully equipped
22 Nov 2014
The sweet longing
24 Sep 2014
Praying for a thankful heart
27 Aug 2014
A little naughtiness or something far, far worse?
22 Jul 2014
Coming to know God
21 Jun 2014
Hanging on the promises, hoping in God
03 Jun 2014
Pious limitations
13 May 2014
Reuniting the divided life
29 Apr 2014
God communicates to us when he shows us Christ
07 Apr 2014
A journey into beauty
01 Apr 2014
"The death of self-importance"
10 Mar 2014
Passion for Life
27 Feb 2014
Am I really a Christian?
10 Feb 2014
Christianity is not morality
20 Jan 2014
Are our devotions really devotional?
08 Jan 2014
Let us resolve to not be lukewarm
06 Jan 2014
A baby who is so much more than a baby
03 Dec 2013
"The gift of desire", what St Anselm saw
18 Nov 2013
I can get satisfaction
13 Nov 2013
What's in a biography?
26 Oct 2013
The beauty of God's way of salvation
26 Oct 2013
Why not, Mr Dawkins?
26 Oct 2013
What is the ultimate good of our hearts?
08 Oct 2013
Boasting in the offence of the cross
30 Sep 2013
Too heavenly minded to be of earthly use?
17 Sep 2013
What's in a name?
02 Sep 2013
Revival and building houses
27 Aug 2013
Do you delight in God even when he withholds?
20 Aug 2013
How much do we value God's presence?
01 Aug 2013
Why sincerity is not enough
24 Jul 2013
An invitation to true blessing
15 Jul 2013
When not being happy might be a sin
08 Jul 2013
"Created in Christ Jesus to do good works"
01 Jul 2013
The worst has already happened so that the best can
24 Jun 2013
A misplaced "Wow!"
04 Jun 2013
I know I am supposed to change, but how?
25 May 2013
God's delight in saving sinners
11 May 2013
"A God Entranced Vision of All Things"
07 May 2013
Our most fatal allergy; our most deadly addiction
23 Apr 2013
Wowed, urged on and imploring
15 Apr 2013
Responding to God's peace
08 Apr 2013
Which Jesus?
02 Apr 2013
When we mess up
02 Apr 2013
Image and Desires
28 Feb 2013