Flu season is in full effect. We're now in the middle of the timeframe where flu activity is at its peak. The Center for Disease Control estimates that the flu hospitalizes 200,000 and kills 36,000 people every year. Imagine for a moment that you start to feel flu-like symptoms and decide to go to the doctor. He diagnoses you with the flu and prescribes medicine or action steps to help you feel better.
Let's say your symptoms aren't too severe, and so he recommends rest and hydration to allow your immune system to kill the virus. He says, "If you rest at home and drink plenty of fluids, you will get better. If you don't, the flu will progressively get worst." But instead of following the doctor's orders, you don't keep your body hydrated and stubbornly go to work the next day. It's guaranteed that you will get worse and pass the virus to your co-workers.
All of this could have been avoided if you had obeyed the conditions of your doctor's orders. But because you didn't, you've placed yourself and others at risk.
The Apostle's Prescription for Sin
In Romans 8:13, the apostle Paul prescribes medicine to Christians to kill the disease called sin that dwells in all of us. His prescription also has conditions: "If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
In "Overcoming Sin and Temptation," John Owen notes that conditionals, such as "if," can denote two things: the uncertainty of something promised or the certainty of the coherence and connection between the things spoken of.