Who would have thought a few short months ago that the terms ‘social distancing’ and ‘physical distancing’ would be so much part of our thoughts and vocabulary now!! The COVID 19 virus has changed our lives, yet it is unseen and has still many unknown factors about it. Although invisible, it has affected every aspect of our lives preventing closeness with other human beings, as well as impacting our economy and lifestyle.
In contrast how much space in our thoughts and vocabulary do we give to equally important negative ‘viruses’ that create spiritual distancing between ourselves and God? The impact of spiritual distance with God has enormous impact on our lives also. The impact is not only now, but continues into eternity!
Here are four ‘viruses’ that create distance and even barriers between God and ourselves
The Sin Virus
This one is the most devasting to our relationship with God. God is pure and holy and cannot be in close relationship anywhere where sin is present.
Isaiah 59 v. 2 “ But your inquiries have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear”
Before God the Father sent His Son Jesus to bring a permanent solution to the sin barrier, the people in the Old Testament had to make sacrifices through a priest on a regular basis to deal with sin. The people had the commandments to follow but even then they did not fully deal with the sin disease which we all inherit from the first disobedience in the garden of Eden. Sin entered at that point and all generations to come reap the consequences.
God taught His people that there can be no remission for sins without the shedding of blood from an animal with no spot or blemish. Even sacrifices were a temporary solution and generally people didn’t have a close personal relationship with God , as they accessed God through the priests who offered sacrifices in their behalf.
Then God sent His Son Jesus as a man who lived on earth without sin even though He experienced temptation. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice making it possible for those who choose to become close to God through Jesus.
Jesus said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except though me. (John 14:6) By accepting, believing and identifying that Jesus died in your place, the sin barrier is broken. We are forgiven, cleansed and have free access in the Spirit to the throne room of heaven Ephesians 1 v 3-8
Even after we have received this gift from God (John 3:16) if we do not live our life in a way that is pleasing to God we still have sin creating distance in our relationship with God.
As humans we can still fall in to ungodly thoughts, words and actions. To break that spiritual distance we need to confess those things as sin and be restored to close relationship again
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8- 9
The Unforgiveness Virus
Harbouring unforgiveness towards someone will distance you from feeling close to God. Often we don’t even realize how deeply we feel about the person or situations in which we felt wronged. Unforgiveness grows in our minds and hearts until it takes on a life of its own and can consume us. Resentment, bitterness, hatred , sarcasm, unkindness, vengeance, anger continue to grow within affecting our relationship with God, others and also can cause health problems.
At the end of the day whether the person was right or wrong becomes secondary as that unforgiveness becomes a chain that we can’t break free from on our own. Choosing to forgive releases us and restores our relationship with God, and releases God to touch the other person. For more on unforgiveness read The Hidden Chains of Unforgiveness
The Ungodly Belief Virus
As we go through life experiences we can form beliefs by making vows and judgments that do not line up with the truth found in scripture. These beliefs limit, and even blind us, to the extent that we cannot live according to God’s truth and receive the blessings and peace in certain area sof our life. These experiences distort our thinking and we measure life through these filters. For example if you had a father who was emotionally distant and even abusive, that experience will make it hard for you to relate to a loving and caring God with a perfect Father’s heart toward you. Your response to your experience of father might cause to to believe God might be emotionally distant, or His love was conditional you behaving up to His expectations. This is an ungodly belief as it doesn’t align with what the Scriptures tell us about God.
Beliefs and life experience make us view the world with a lack of trust in people and walls of self protection which can cause your relationship with God to feel distant, because you don’t know and haven’t experienced anything different. That has become your normal.
How can this virus be overcome?
The first step is to identify what is the ungodly belief that is creating distance between you and God. Once you have identified it, it could be that you need to receive healing from God for the pain and trauma that caused this ungodly belief. It is amazing how God can heal our broken places – time is no barrier for Him and He can touch and restore painful memories and bring healing to the heart.
The next step is to identify what the Godly belief is that needs to replace the ungodly one.
What does the Bible say about this situation or belief? Write down your ungodly belief and then write underneath the godly belief you have found in scripture. Take these beliefs to God in prayer. Confess your sin of believing and basing your life on the ungodly belief. Ask God to forgive you and then pause and receive His forgiveness. Then ask God to plant His truth in your heart and life. It may take sometime for you to break the old thinking patterns. Each time you find your thoughts going back remind yourself of God’s truth and ask Him to change your thoughts to align with Him.
The Demonic Oppression Virus
The most subtle and insidious spiritual distancing comes from demonic strategies coming against us. Satan’s mission is to make us ineffective believers – he comes to kill, steal and destroy our relationship with God. His purpose is to cause us to turn our back on God , discourage us from living God’s ways and become lethargic and apathetic.
The battle is real! However, the strategies are most effective when little by little we become more distance in our relationship with God as this impacts our lifestyle and dims the light of our witness to others. Satan has many strategies, but he mainly puts lies and thoughts into our mind, distractions in our day, temptations to sin and fleshly desires that become more important than spending time in the presence of God.
Awareness and recognition of his strategies is the key to defeating them. God has equipped us with all we need to protect us. We can put on spiritual armour provided for us as described in Ephesians 6.
God has also given believers the authority to resist every spiritual attack. By using the name of Jesus we can push back every onslaught that is targeted at us. When Jesus rose from the dead He took back the power over satan and his demons.
As Christians it is our responsibility to keep strong in our faith through prayer and reading the Word of God.
1 Peter 5:8-9
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith
If you are feeling distanced from God there is a cure for any virus that is the root cause of your symptoms. Ask God to reveal to you what is the spiritual virus you are suffering with and go to Him for the cure. Jesus paid it all on the cross and He is the Master Physician!!
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8