Several weeks ago, an article appeared in the Straits Times to the effect that a coronavirus vaccine won’t work if people don’t take it. As many countries are competing to develop the vaccine speedily, risking not going through the standard protocol, people are wary of the vaccine’s efficacy and the possible side effects. It was reported that “a majority of Russian doctors would not feel comfortable being injected with Russia’s new Covid-19 vaccine due to the lack of sufficient data about it and its super-fast approval…” Whatever the reasons are, the virus remains a threat to our life.
As I was reading this article, it came to my mind that we have a vaccine against the most lethal virus that is Sin. Unlike the coronavirus, it cannot be prevented by wearing a mask, no matter how wide is the social distancing or even a total lockdown. No amount of resources spent on research and development can men come up with a vaccine that helps us to deter sin. Since the emergence of the original sin upon Adam and Eve, it continues to permeate the rest of mankind. What is considered as a sin in the past is no longer a sin now, as humans have a way to twist the truth of God. Even Paul, the apostle, admitted, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15. It was not that Paul did not want to do things right, but he felt helpless. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, he was the top in terms of law compliance. He even went to the extent of persecuting people who are not following the laws. It was not until when the Lord appeared to him that he realized his folly. To do things right by observing the law is powerless because that is not the purpose of the law. Its purpose is to show that we have sinned, but it does not give us the power to overcome sin. This must not be overlooked because many people have mistakenly taken the law as a vaccine against sinning. They may have been successful at times, but by and large, their efforts to avoid sinning are in vain, and they continue to be under the grip of sin.
What is the real vaccine for sin? Let’s look to 1 John 3:9 – “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” It appears contradictory to what we understand because it is impossible not to sin even though we have Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. John himself clearly said at the beginning of 1 John that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If we read the passage closely, John is talking about the “practice of sinning.” In other words, when we are truly followers of Christ, we are no longer indifferent to sin. True, we are still susceptible to sin, but there is a change of practice towards not sinning and trying to gain victory over sin. This is a stark departure from the past because we justify sin, just like an error, mistake, or white lie. God has removed the veil from our eyes to see that sin is a sin. The critical point is that the true vaccine is not our own efforts in fighting against sin alone, but the Holy Spirit, who is our helper. I believe you can identify with me that if your walk with Jesus is close, the conviction of the Holy Spirit will always be present when sin knocks at our door. In addition, God promises that “…He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
However, God does not rob us of our free choice to decide the course of action in the presence of sin. Like the coronavirus vaccine, it will not work if we willfully switch off the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Do not underestimate the desire of our flesh and the distractions of the world as they continue to be active when Jesus becomes inactive in our life. Like what Matthew 6:24 puts it, “You cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” If you are still undecided about who to serve and flipping from sin to following God, you are fighting losing warfare against sin. God’s vaccine must be taken in totality for it to work. While the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine are still unknown, it is guaranteed to be positive for God’s vaccine. The side effect is our transformed life, which is one of avoiding and hating sin. Only then can we have the ability not to keep on sinning.