Corona or Virus?

Daniel Schaefer

The coronavirus is keeping the world in suspense. What we know about viruses in general is also an accurate metaphor for our spiritual life. Do we want the “corona” (crown) of eternal life, or the virus of sin?

Viruses aren’t composed of cells, but are organized particles. With the help of the host cell, viruses form a capsule made of lipids and proteins, in order to package viral proteins and their blueprint (which is very important for them to form further viruses). The viruses formed in this way dock in certain receptors according to the “lock and key” mechanism. Since the key generally matches the same cell type from which the virus comes, the blueprint is channeled into the cell. If need be, this blueprint can be rewritten there, so that it not only gets into the cell’s nucleus, but even becomes part of the cell’s genetic information. However, all of this can be delayed if the virus remains passive. But it is added to the daughter cells with each division. Sooner or later, after a certain latency period, the true nature of such a cell becomes apparent. The virus takes command of the host cell. Everything becomes focused on producing virus particles. And if that cell bursts, hundreds of viruses are released.

Now on to the Coronavirus. Anyone who thinks that the discovery of coronavirus is new is wrong. As early as the 1960s, this virus was described with a genetic sequence 27,000-34,000 characters long. However, the current coronavirus (COVID-19) is a variant that is keeping the whole world in suspense. The morphology (the appearance of the virus envelope under an electron microscope), with its many docking proteins, resembles a crown. These docking proteins specialize in the respiratory tract. And that’s what makes the virus so dangerous: because we not only inhale it, but also exhale it. There would be no danger from air alone, but this exhalation is sometimes more violent when we sneeze or cough, so that small droplets can reach a new recipient.

However, there is an outside and an inside. The protection that the skin provides is amazing. Nevertheless, there are danger zones: the mouth, nose, eyes, ears, and open wounds. We can draw a parallel to spiritual truth here. We live in the world, but we are not of the world. We breathe in the polluted air around us, which means that we are at greater or lesser risk, depending on the situation. But while exposed, we’re not defenseless. Nose hairs, mucus, phagocytes, immune defense cells—these are all instances of protection.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). God is surrounded by “fresh air”; that is, air that promotes life. Things that sicken people don’t come from God, but from man’s rebellion against Him. Sure, we can always say that there was something of God in every temptation. But that would be just as foolish as saying that the host cell is to blame for everything, since the coronavirus is covered with an envelope formed from it.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (Jas 1:14). Then it happens. A person sees something attractive. If it weren’t attractive to him, he’d be immune. But the devil knows which receptors have formed on our spiritual surface. Perhaps we’re susceptible to envy, pornography, egotism, selfishness…the list goes on and on. Now comes the spiritually deployed virus: temptation comes to us. Do we have receptors? Are we receptive? If we let Jesus fill us and our receptors are in use by Him, then temptation won’t find a docking point. But woe to us if we’re looking elsewhere for our soul’s satisfaction! As it is written in Genesis 4, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (v. 7). The viruses are basically lurking in front of the cell. Keep them as far away as possible!

“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (Jas 1:15). “Then desire when it has conceived”—that means something like: if the virus has found a receptor, then the diabolical information of death is introduced. It gives birth to sin. The cell doesn’t die immediately; on the contrary, it does just fine for a considerable time, but it is doomed to die. There is no longer any salvation for the cell that has made sin a part of its genome; it results in death. The Bible also testifies to this figuratively. Sin is the world’s doom (cf. 2 Pet 1:4). “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23a). Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. It was already the case for Eve, when she offered the fruit to Adam. He wasn’t seduced like the woman, but deliberately sinned (1 Tim 2:14). Sin is always contagious; more contagious and deadly than any form of the coronavirus. Not only does it infect others, but also it causes new sins to hide the original one.

What’s the Way Out? What’s the solution? How about the cell infected with coronavirus?

Our body doesn’t just have the God-given chance of protecting itself directly against infectious particles, but can also fight the pathogens that have penetrated our own cells. However, the goal and consequence of all defense mechanisms is death of the affected cell for the good of the entire organism. One example is NK lymphocytes (so-called “natural killer” cells), whose precursors migrate from the liver to the bone marrow in the fetus. They detect changes on the surface of cells that, for example, have been infected by viruses. The affected cell is killed by introducing cytotoxins. Apoptosis is the technical term: targeted induced suicide, with simultaneous degradation and recycling.

It’s similar in the spiritual realm, so we shouldn’t be misled.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas 1:16-18).

James repeats again and again that all good things come from God. He is unchangingly good, the Father of light, the origin of all holiness. This God formed us, who are infected by sin and death, according to His sovereign will. We aren’t just renewed, but born again. We’re a new creation. The old has passed away. Sin’s demand of death was destroyed by Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross. His death defeated death. Now we can walk in new life; no longer are our cells susceptible to invasion from the enemy, but to the Lord Jesus, who is dead to sin…

Anyone infected with coronavirus should be treated and isolated as soon as possible: to prevent the virus from spreading, and before it’s too late for him and others.

Anyone who allows sin into his life and holds on to it (that is, neither repenting or turning to the only Savior for “timely help”) will receive death as the result. It doesn’t just get worse with the person himself; no, it also snatches up others in its wake of sin toward death. However, whoever received the Lord Jesus in this life receives life eternal. The Savior died and rose from the dead. It is the Lord Jesus who “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24). We are healthy through him. We can live freely and joyfully in the presence of God through Jesus, now and always!

Midnight Call - 08/2020

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