By Jerry D. Ousley
What are spiritual termites?
Do you know that there are 3106 known species of termites in the world? I didn’t until I looked it up. From this number there are only 183 species that cause damage. Of these 183 species only 83 species cause damage to wooden structures and in North America only 9 of those live here. But let me tell you, those 9 species can ruin a structure. Termites live in colonies that range between a few hundred to millions. In the southern United States alone these pests cause around $1.5 Billion in damage each year.
The pesky creatures build tunnels through the wood eating their way through leaving only thin walls to conceal themselves. Enough time and termites will so weaken a structure that it will collapse.
I have never experienced the damage of termites (and hope I never do) but I did see a movie once during which two movers with a truck load of furniture were making a delivery deep in the country. The route they were given to take took them across an old covered bridge. I remember one of the movers telling the other one “that’s no bridge. That’s termites holding hands!” They proceeded across the bridge and barely got across because it began collapsing as they were going across.
In our spiritual house, termites could be compared to those things that erode our relationship with the Lord. They won’t cause you to lose your salvation because only a conscious decision to turn away from Christ can do that – but they can lead to such an attitude. These things include negative emotions such as fear, worry, anger, wrath and hatred.
Different types of spiritual termites
Just as there are different species of termites so there are different things that can become “termites” in our lives. Galatians 5:10-23 outlines the bad things that can become termites within us and also the Fruit of the Spirit which mentions good things to put into our lives.
This list includes some physical things like pride, adultery, fornication, idolatry, sorcery, murders, drunkenness, and revelries. These are outward expressions of the termites within. Other things listed can’t be easily seen until they are displayed and are often displayed in one or more of the outward things mentioned. They include uncleanness, lewdness, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, and envy. By the way, this isn’t a complete list because I am certain there are other things that could be included but it is a good representation. These “termites” come from negative emotions and feelings inside of us.
Let’s specifically deal with pride now. In Luke 18:9-14 we read “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
Jesus had a way of really bringing a point home. He was speaking expressly to a group who prided themselves in being righteous (more than likely a group of Pharisees). He used the example of a Pharisee who knew much about the scripture but knew little of its practice. He compared this “religious man” with a tax collector. Tax collectors were hated because their job was to gather the taxes for the local and Roman Governments which included a poll tax, land tax and an import/export tax. He was allowed to set up anywhere he deemed it a good place and he was also allowed to collect extra which he kept for himself. Because of his job and his extortion ways of collecting he was hated by all.
In Jesus’ parable we see the pride of the Pharisee. He bragged to God about his practices and even spoke in a derogatory way about the tax collector near him. I am certain that the tax collector heard his words. He received his glory in his pride but did not go away justified. Because of his arrogant pride his prayer was nothing but a selfish self-elation. God hated it and rejected the Pharisee.
But the tax collector stood afar off the Bible says, and in his shame and humble attitude before God could not even raise his eyes upward but beat himself on the chest and begged “God be merciful to me a sinner.” His sin was not accepted in the eyes of God. But his repenting was. Of him Jesus said that he went down to his house justified rather than the other. His attitude made all the difference. He wasn’t lifted up with pride as the Pharisee. But he acknowledged his sin and God counted that act to him for righteousness.
Pride can be an awfully destructive termite in our spiritual house. To avoid it we must examine our hearts daily to be sure we aren’t comparing ourselves to others. We need to be humbled daily and recognize our need for repentance. We must come to God every day in this way and we won’t be lifted up in pride. For as Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.”
When talking about sin we often refer to and think of those outward displays. Certainly murder, adultery, fornication, drunkenness and just plain old meanness are very bad things. We want to think that these are sin (and they are). But most of the time these things are displays of what is really going on inside us. Jesus said in Matthew 15:11 “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” What He was saying that it isn’t in what we eat or what necessarily we are exposed to that creates sin within us but what proceeds out of our heart. When the sin (those termites in our lives) gets strong enough and erodes us inside enough then we collapse and display what we are feeling on the outside. This is the sin that the world sees coming from us. But they don’t see the evil inside until it is manifested out.
Hatred may eventually cause us to do bodily harm to someone. Envy can eventually cause us to display outward outbursts of anger. Jealousy can lead to divorce, or theft. When we begin to exterminate those “termites” within we will also extinguish the outward display that is coming from them.
Did you know that negative emotions that originate from within can enhance the growth of cancer cells, and can cause us gastric and intestinal problems like ulcers and other things? Negative emotions are worry, anger, hatred, doubt, and fear, to name some of them. Now I am not saying that all sickness is brought on by these things but I am saying that if we have a physical problem it certainly can be enhanced negatively by those things. It can be made worse. If we worry about some physical ailment in our life that worry may cause it to get worse.
When we begin to identify, pray about, and allow God by way of the Holy Spirit within us to bring to surface those inward sins, and then let Him heal them and cast them from us it is just like having a pest control service come in and spray to kill those termites. Once the termites are gone the physical damage will stop. Just so, when these hidden sins within us are eliminated then we will see a change in the quality of our lives. We can live happier, easier, and much more fruitful lives for our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Getting rid of spiritual termites
We have compared these pesky critters with sin in our lives. With actual termites a call to your local exterminator is the first step to getting rid of them. He or she will come in, run some tests and spray in just the right areas to kill the bugs and in a matter of days, if the exterminator has done their job well, you will be rid of termites. But there are a couple of things we have to do to make this happen. We are responsible for the call. There are no termite police out there who routinely check the neighborhood for the pests. If you don’t make the call then the exterminator will not come. Also, you have to be willing and able to pay the bill. Your good old neighborhood exterminator doesn’t work for free. So you have to cough up whatever the cost is to get rid of them. If they have done considerable damage once they are gone then you are responsible to fix what the critters have torn up. And lastly you have to take measures to make sure they don’t come back. So there is a lot you have to do to get rid of them.
When it comes to our salvation there is only one thing we have to do to be forgiven of sin in our lives and that is to believe. We must believe what the Lord has said. We must believe that Christ’s death on Calvary was the one and only ultimate sacrifice to pay for our sin. We must believe that He will do what He said. We must believe that we aren’t such a good guy after all and that we are hopelessly and helplessly lost without Jesus Christ. And we must believe these things to the point that we are willing to call out to Him, depend on Him for our forgiveness and believe to the point that we are willing to do something about it.
We can’t live good enough. No matter who we are, how pure our pedigree, what color our skin may be, how much money we have or don’t have, we are all in the same boat. Our only escape is to believe in what Christ has done for us. If we don’t believe then we can’t receive. If we don’t receive then we can’t get rid of life’s termites. There is no other way. Jesus is the only way because only He was pure and sinless and His death paid the final penalty for sin and His resurrection became the first fruits of claiming victory over death. Jesus is the reversal of the curse on our planet and upon mankind. He is the only way to rid ourselves of the termites of life.
The great thing about being saved (saved from the inescapable and inevitable penalty for sin – death physically, spiritually and eternally in hell) is that our Lord just doesn’t cleanse us of our sin and leave our lives empty. Remember the parable Jesus told about the fellow who was delivered from demonic spirits? (Read Luke 11:24-26). Jesus said that after it left it would one day return and finding the hosts life swept and put in order. Then, the Bible says, that he brings seven other evil spirits with him and re-enters the man making him worse than he was before. The point of this parable is that if we are delivered and not filled up with something then the door has been left open for even worse consequences.
Paul lists some anti-termites in Galatians 5:22-23. We commonly call these the Fruit of the Spirit. You see when we accept Christ as our Savior He gives us the tools to resist temptation and rid our lives of those pesky termites that eat away and erode our lives. But He knows that if we are left empty that we could wind up in worse condition. So by way of the Holy Spirit we can replace those evil destructive things in our lives with those things listed in this passage: Namely, love, joy, peace, long-suffering (which is patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are positive things, positive emotions that will make our lives wholesome and good. Paul concluded that passage of scripture in verse 23 with these words “against such there is no law.” In other words, in the Jerry Ousley paraphrase, “who in their right mind would make these things illegal?”
When we are filled up with these then there is no room for the demonic spirits to return. They come back to a full house to which they cannot withstand. And that’s the way to get rid of life’s termites!
Jerry D. Ousley is the author of ïSoul Challengeï, ïSoul Journeyï, ïOrdealï, ïThe Spirit Bread Daily Devotional and his first novel ïThe Shoe Tree.ï Visit our website at spiritbread.com to download these and more completely free of charge.