It’s all over bar the shouting 1 John 5_1-6 Easter 6
Winter is nearly upon us and winter means the inevitable attack from colds and flues. However, this year I have decided to combat and overcome this enemy virus. For victory in this battle I need to be aware and prepared, be ready to take on the gems when I see them. I have a mask, cloves, disinfectant, glasses, and I am eating heaps and heaps of garlic…like to smell my breath! Of course this is a battle that I am probably going to lose, why? We cannot see germs, they are microscopic, so unless I walk around with this protection gear on all the time, or wear microscopes for glasses, it is just a matter of time, or luck as to whether or not I get infected by the dreaded flu or I overcome this hidden enemy.
While we can’t see the germs, we know they exist by the effects they cause on our health. And when we do get the flu an antidote is available for us to take, to control and kill off the virus within us. We can actually overcome the gems, not though our being vigilant, but through the power of the antidote. We will still feel the effects of the flu, but because of the antidote, it is already beaten…overcome; its just a matter of time. The Swine flu was scary wasn’t it! No one really quite knew how it spread, where it originated from and how bad it was going to get. There was no certainty either, that an antidote would work against this super bug. The world was not sure it could overcome this hidden power.
St Paul in Ephesians warns us as Christian we are in a battle against a hidden power, a bit like the flu virus. He says ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ The devil is the unseen prince of this world and his angels of darkness have been thrown out of heaven and now ‘prowl around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’.
The devil cannot accuse us and attack us before God in heaven, so he now rampages the earth in a last ditched attempt to infect and destroy us. The gospel writer John had a vision of this and recorded it in the book of Revelation ‘And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down– that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
We can’t see him but we can certainly experience the effects of his attacks. Like the swine flu, no one knows where he originates in our life, what effect he will have and how bad it will get for us. How we battle and overcome Satan and sin in this world is currently a hot topic, especially if you are an NRL fan or player. Matthew Johns has no doubt been caught out being involved in a horrible incident and now must pay the price. So what do we do, how do we overcome this evil? Sure, Channel 9 can and has fired him. Yet aren’t they just as much to blame? How many shows do they air in the evenings which not only promote such sex acts, but encourage it by airing explicit scenes. And what about the adverts they get millions of dollars from, which entice men or women into promiscuity by texting ‘no strings attached’ partners? Are not Johns and many others, even Christian just children of the media, a tool of the devil’s virus call the ‘sexual revolution’?
How do we as Christians overcome such offences against fellow humans, ourselves and others? How do we overcome the hidden powers which infect us all and are harmful and destructive to us, our families and people we don’t even know; like gambling, wealth accumulation, domestic violence, racism? We all by nature are just as sinful, just as inclined to follow through with the promptings of society and fall just as heavily as Johns has.
The scriptures remind us of this ‘anyone who claims to be without sin is a liar, and the truth is not in them’. Is there an antidote against this hidden virus, the devil? Use the law…scream for tougher penalties? Call for a ban on NRL players socializing? Stop all human interaction, all contact, shut down our society and become a state under marshal law? Perhaps we can overcome the powers of this world like Mexico did against the swine flu and shut everyone in and isolate anyone we think is infected. Wouldn’t life be fun then? It would be like me having to wear all this protective gear all the time. Not only that, the law has no power to save, its no antidote against sin, as Paul writes ‘no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.’
John’s letter shows us a better way of dealing with this raging lion. He reveals to us the perfect antidote ‘everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.’ Sadly, the law was no antidote for the sin we all contracted. No matter how hard we try, we can’t fix a cure. We can’t work our ways into God’s good books. Instead God has provided the antidote for us all, by faith in Jesus who was crucified for our sin.
Out of love for us, God came to earth in Jesus Christ to put a cure into effect. Jesus did this by taking the full force of the hidden virus that we’d all contracted. That’s what happened on the cross: Jesus the innocent Son of God died the consequential death and experienced the separation from God that we deserved. In rising to life, Jesus offers the antidote to everyone: forgiveness and life with God forever. Receiving the cure is as simple as coming to be washed in the waters of baptism and believing in Jesus and what he has done for you! This is what St John means when he said ‘our faith in Jesus the Son of God has overcome this world.’ And Jesus enacts these words to you saying ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.’ And he also says to you today ‘”In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.“
Luther wrote about faith and baptism as the antidote to overcome the powers of evil ‘The only way to drive away the devil is by believing in Christ and saying ‘I am baptised, I am a Christian’. Once the antidote of faith has taken effect, the war has been won, instantly. Now only the battle remains. The presence of the Spirit empowers us to love God more dearly each day and to love and serve each other and look out for each others rights and needs. By faith in Jesus we overcome the devil.
Instead of being children of the world and hurting each other and ourselves by acting upon the devil’s attacks, out of love for God we act upon his commandments which promote love instead. John says ‘This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.’
The antidote against the devil won for us in Christ, given in the sacraments, now continues in and through us. The antidote of faith in Jesus slowly kills off the devil’s hold in our lives, as we repent of our sins and seek his forgiveness, and then going out to serve and love others. Just as a virus is stopped in its tracks with an antidote, the devil is also. He cannot infect when love is present. The victory is ours and then the worlds, when we conquer sinful acts not by accusing and condemning but by loving and inviting a faith relationship in Jesus.
Let us now sing about this victory in Christ. ‘Yours is the glory’.