I got infected with a nasty parasitic skin condition a while back. I started uncontrollably itching all over my body. Eventually, the pain became unbearable, and I had to figure out some way to get those parasites out of my skin.
My mom, being my mom, found a bunch of natural remedies for my skin, and suggested I use them to get rid of the parasites.
Well, I did try them out. And those natural remedies hurt like wildfire! I took several long bath in those natural remedies, and it felt like my skin was burning.
But that prolonged treatment eventually got those parasites. And I was very glad not to be itching anymore.
Reflecting back on the situation, my skin condition bears a strong resemblance to the spiritual life. For parasites can be likened to sin sin many ways.
Sin is nasty and incredibly parasitic. Very few Christians mired in habitual sin actually enjoy the sins they commit. We hate them, but can't get rid of them through our own efforts. Sin eats away at us and burrows into us, just like parasites, and causes us ever-growing pain. We can't simply ignore them and hope they disappear, because they will run rampant and eat us alive.
Left unchecked, habitual sins run wild and destroy us – just like parasites. And as long as we remain in areas that contain the parasites (i.e., nearer occasions of sin), and avoid seeking healing, the parasites will remain in our system – and grow steadily worse and more destructive with time.
But the remedy for spiritual parasites hurts as well. It hurts to let go of sin! It hurts to pray for forgiveness and seek that forgiveness our of others. It hurts to go to confession and admit our faults. Sin may be terrible indeed, but at least it is familiar and even confortable to us.
That gnawing temptation - that desire to constantly stratch the itch of our sin and avoid being healed - is always there. Many of us would rather remain in our sin and perpetually undergo the suffering that entails, rather than fix our sin once and for all.
The feeling of freedom that ensues once we get rid of sin is incredible indeed. It is far better to be free of sin than mired in it. But the initial steps to removing our sin are painful indeed - and too painful for many to undertake.
If we would be truly free, we need to utilize the spiritual remedies God has given us, painful though they might be, to rid us of our spiritual parasites. And freedom from spiritual parasites is incredibly joyful, indeed.