Quarantined, for His Purposes

 

quarantine

Quarantines are a real possibility, even in this day. A quarantine is imposed when disease is contagious enough that it would harm a society: Measles, Smallpox, and the recent Ebola Virus  are just a few physical diseases where strict isolation must be imposed. It can be severe— an epidemic, with desperate consequences if not adhered to; in some rare cases, the use of deadly force have been authorized to maintain a quarantine until the disease is no longer communicable.

This may surprise you, but there are examples of ‘quarantines’ in the Bible. The term ‘unclean’ was used for ‘leprosy.’ Those afflicted must isolate themselves; they had to ‘announce’ their presence when in contact with society. Lepers lived in groups away from the general populace, as a result of their disease.

In Paul’s epistle to the Corinthian he addresses another kind of ‘quarantine.’ The situation was dire; the church had advocated a Christian living with his father’s wife.

“I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.”

1 Corinthians 5:3-5, NLT

Understanding the Principal of Usefulness

20 “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.”

2 Timothy 2:20, NASB

Found in God’s pantry is full of pots and pans of various uses.  Paul writes Timothy about the ‘large house’ which is the Church inclusive. Look around Timothy, there are gold ones, and there are silver ones. They have a noble purpose fitting for such a great house. These are the ones the guests will use; they befit the significance of the Lord himself. These vessels have great value for they are made of precious metals.

There are vessels of a different category. These are the ones made of wood, and of clay. These are part of the household, make no mistake about it. But their use is one of function, they’re utilized in common and ignoble ways. (A clay ‘bed-pan’ perhaps?!)

21 “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”

2 Timothy 2:21

Paul, the author of New Testament doctrine of grace emphasizes the place of personal holiness. We are to ‘cleanse’ ourselves to become a vessel of honor. There is good news here:

  • All are vessels in the Father’s house. Each of us belong to Him. He alone determines their use.
  • Things are not yet in their final state. Change in status can be experienced. In God’s economy, clay pots can become ‘golden.’ Silver can become ‘wood.’

Some sin is contagious. It affects other believers and the Church becomes compromised by my sin. And then sometimes we are quarantined by the Holy Spirit until the contagion passes. This spiritual disease must not be permitted.

I have experienced this several times in my own discipleship. These are not pleasant times but there is no condemnation. I’m still His servant, His love for me stays outrageously constant. He has never turned away a sinning child who repents of their sin.

“Yes, I am His servant, but I must wait out in the hall. I haven’t been faithful. So I sit in His waiting room, waiting for His call. This is for my good. And my Father knows what is best.” 

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A Puppet, or Your Sovereign Prince?

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

–Luke 5:12, NLT

This man, an infectious leper, approaches Jesus. The Lord looking at him (most people would avert their gaze) asked simply, “What do you want?”  There was no hesitancy as he falls at Jesus’ feet.  “Please!  Make me clean, if you want to.”  His beautiful prayer of absolute surrender and trust sets up the staggering miracle.

There are so many plagued with personal sin-– and its like leprosy, it started out small, hardly noticeable.  But time and opportunity has caused it to spread through the whole body.  The man now lived among the unclean.  He has been utterly infected, and totally consumed by his disease. It has taken over his body, and his life.

His prayer exposes his desperate humility.  It is Jesus’ decision completely.  The man does not demand, or challenge Jesus.  So many try to make it an issue of Jesus proving his power and deity.  The man has lost all willingness to manipulate and control the healing process. He has been stripped of his power in this matter.

Much of the time, when I come before Jesus in prayer, I come with my checklist.  I build my case around things I have done to deserve my request.  (I’m very stupid sometimes.)  I don’t say it, but I’m trying to earn an answer by my effort.  We still try to achieve spiritual blessings by works.

What I need to do, is to throw myself at the feet of Jesus.  I need to plead for mercy.  Scripture has revealed to us that God draws close to the humble and contrite. “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”

There are no hoops to jump through.  There are no vows you can make so that it will happen. There are no deals to make. “(If you do this for me, I  promise never to swear again.)” But it is grace, from start-to-finish.  It raises havoc with our built-in sense of spiritual entitlement.  Personally, the grace of God has been the most profound, and significant concept I have ever encountered.

It’s all about a simple, childlike trust in the Savior.  He is always good and merciful.  I will exercise no agenda of my own.  I will pull no spiritual strings, He is not my puppet.  Instead I put myself at His feet, and wait for Him to do what He wishes. Is Jesus your puppet, or is He your Prince?