“A LITTLE BIT won’t hurt me—it looks lovely,” Ian begged. “No!” insisted his father. “You’re allergic to it and even a little bit could hurt you a lot.”
Some people are intolerant of certain foods and eating them makes them ill. Others are allergic to even the slightest trace of a food (for example nuts). They have to learn, like Ian, to be constantly on the look out and to avoid them. This involves reading food labels and asking about possible cross-contamination in kitchens. Carelessness could be fatal. Although symptoms can usually be relieved if action is taken quickly, there is no cure for the actual allergy.
Sometimes small amounts of something can have large effects. Things like mould, germs and cancer cells spread quickly. A little leaven (yeast) will cause a whole batch of dough to rise, and the Apostle Paul says that bad influences can corrupt our lives like leaven spreading through dough
(1 Corinthians 5:6).
Unpleasant though these are, we all face a far greater problem: sin. Sin is disobedience to God. This includes crimes like murder, rape and stealing. But it also encompasses things we regard as less serious such as selfishness, envy and uncontrolled anger (Mark 7:21–23; Galatians 5:19–21). Moreover, any and all sin alienates us from God; sin is sin whatever it is—even one sin. Adam and Eve ‘just’ ate the forbidden fruit which looked lovely (Genesis 3:6) and the consequences were catastrophic. Any ‘good’ we do cannot make up for our sins. If we have broken one small part of the law we have broken it all (James 2:10). And because we are sinners we deserve to die: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
But there is one solution. God offers us forgiveness, but on His terms. God is merciful and kind (Exodus 33:18–19, 34:6–7). He wants to forgive us. But as a God of truth He cannot forgive those who rebel. So He tells us to repent, to believe in the sacrifice of Jesus and then to focus on Him and on His offer of eternal life. Then even when we fail we can still be forgiven.
Baptised Christians have acknowledged their plight and renounced their old way of life (Romans 6:1–6). Like Ian, they need constantly to identify and avoid situations that are spiritually dangerous, even those that are not immediately obvious. The Bible gives guidance on how to do this. They need to become intolerant of sin—to hate it and to avoid it. Sin is fatal, but unlike food allergies there is a cure.