Fighting the killer disease: The only way to really win

Pastor Luther Taniveke asks the question many people are asking at this time of uncertainty: how can we be saved? His answer is an oldie but a goodie.

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In this time of crisis everybody is trying to find somewhere or some way to protect themselves from this killer disease known to the world as COVID-19. The question many are asking is what should we do to save ourselves during this pandemic?

No one wants to die. And therefore our societies are trying everything. Governments, health services, churches and other organisations around the globe are putting together strategic plans to help their citizens and members survive this killer disease.

While they are looking at ways to save themselves from COVID-19, there is another killer disease that is all-pervasive in our world today. This killer disease is called SIN. Sin is more dangerous and terrifying than COVID-19, because the death that this pandemic causes is eternal. The death we might experience as the result of COVID-19 is only temporary because there are promises of a resurrection recorded in Scripture (John 5:28,29; John 11:25,26; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

The question we should be asking is what must I do to be saved from this sin-sick disease? I have no answers to solving the COVID-19 pandemic and, currently, many scientists and doctors all over the world are still looking and experimenting on possible medications and vaccines to cure coronavirus.

However, I have some advice to share with you on what we should do to be saved from the killer disease called sin.

God’s grace unlimited

First, let me assure you that the grace of God is unlimited. It is a gift God gives to all who would receive Him. Salvation from sin does not exist in a vacuum. God is offering it through the death of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. This grace, Bible scholars say, is “the unmerited favour of God” that we do not deserve and is offered free to all mankind, but it costs the life of Jesus Christ. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). As sinners we are all doomed to death. The death that is caused by COVID-19 is the result of sin but “the wages of sin” is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Peter says, “We believe it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved . . .” (Acts 15:11). Paul adds on, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). Then in verse 21 Paul continues, “So that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The death of Jesus on the cross is the remedy for the sin-sick disease.

Our faith

God’s grace means nothing to anyone without faith. The channel in which to receive God’s grace is through faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis added). Christians think they can earn salvation by their good works. Our good works or “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). It is not what we do that brings salvation, it is what Christ does. Our part is to believe and accept Jesus’ sacrifice for sin by faith. Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life (John 3:16; 1 John 5:12-13). The cure for sin is to have faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for sin; that makes eternal life possible.

"Our salvation is dependent very much on what Christ has done and is doing, not on our doings."

Forgiveness of sin

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross also offers forgiveness for the sin-sick disease. Forgiveness comes when we genuinely confess and repent of our sins (1 John 1:9; Acts 2:38). E G White records, “Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation” (SC, p 24). Forgiveness does not cost us money. It is freely given through the blood of Jesus. We are now being reconciled back to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). The broken relationship that sin causes is now fixed—“by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Apostle Paul said that when we have faith in Christ’s sacrifice for sin our sins are forgiven (Romans 3:25).

Adoption

After we are forgiven from the curse of sin, God never treats us as strangers or foreigners anymore. He makes us part of His great family. We are adopted, beloved children of God (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). All who believe in Jesus are called the “children of God” (John 1:12). As God’s children, we live together in harmony with each other. We carry each other’s burden. We take care of each other. There are disagreements sometimes because of sin and self, but these disagreements should not take us away from becoming the children of God by faith. There is nothing that will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).

Justification

To be justified simply means that we have no wrongs. We are “justified freely by His grace” (Romans 3:24). Our sinful life is covered by Christ’s robe of righteousness and we appear as though we have never sinned. We are not saying to God that, because of our good works, we are justified and therefore God must save us. No! Because we are clothed with His righteousness, we are saved. Our salvation is dependent very much on what Christ has done and is doing, not on our doings. After we are justified, we are not free to do anything we wish to do. We have an obligation to fulfill. We will want to live with a Christ-like character. This kind of life should come naturally as a result of good relationship and commitment with God.

Christ lives in you

Jesus Christ is now living in the life of a Christian through His Holy Spirit (John 14:17). Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). When Christ lives in the life, we will want to follow Him for the rest of our lives. The Holy Spirit is sealing us daily (Ephesians 1:13). Disobedience comes as the result of not knowing God and not committing our lives to His control. Living a Christ-like life is what many Christians called a “sanctified life”. This is where obedience come into play. We obey God not because we want to be saved but because we are already been saved.

Sin now has no control over us, for we are “not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We are no longer slaves to sin which brings death; we are slaves to righteousness which brings life eternal (Romans 6:16-22). We praise God because we are saved from the power of sin. However, the presence of sin is still here, therefore it is possible to fall back into sin if we are not careful. But if we commit our lives to Jesus and His word, Paul says, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1,2). The Holy Spirit is now taking control of our life. This is where we have victory over sin and temptation. The result of this victory is life eternal.


Pastor Luther Taniveke is president of the Kiribati Mission.