On Friday, April 8th, 2016, my first technical article was published in a peer-reviewed Biotech industry journal. I thought some of you might be interested in getting a glimpse into my Biotech Process Engineering professional life. If so, you may read my “Contamination Triangle” article in the spring edition of BioProcessing Journal – Volume 15, Issue 1.
The Contamination Triangle is patterned after the “Fire Triangle” used by the fire safety industry. The 3-sides of the Fire Triangle are Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat, which must all be present together at the same time in order for fire to occur. If any of the three requirements is missing. There will be no fire.
The Contamination Triangle is like the Fire Triangle in that 3-factors must all occur simultaneously in order for microbial contamination to enter a pure or sterile process. The three factors are an organism, an opening, and an operational force. If you are interested in learning more about how this applies to making biopharmaceutical and sterile medicines, please read the full article on BioProcessingJournal.com.
I often see spiritual illustrations in the physical world around us. This is true in my work life as well. In the bio-pharmaceutical industry, we are dedicated to providing safe, efficacious, life-saving medicines to patients. This means they must be free from any form of contamination. Enormous amounts of time, effort and money are invested in making sure our products remain pure.
The spiritual parallel is simple. Sin in the life of a true Christian is like contamination in a medicine or a contaminating organism in a biological process. Just as contamination adulterates a medicine, rendering it unfit and possibly unsafe for use, so sin in the life of a believer adulterates them spiritually, hinders their prayers, and corrupts their Christian testimony.
Many modern medicinal molecules are produced by mammalian cells that have been genetically modified to manufacture a a therapeutic protein. These cells are fragile and needy. Just as a good shepherd watches over and tends his sheep, cell cultures must also be carefully tended.
Cell cultures are grown in Bioreactors in carefully controlled conditions. They are grown in media containing the right nutrients, at the right temperature, at the right pH, with the right agitation, with the right amount of Oxygen. Any deviation from the specified controls can result in poor cell growth, failure of the cells to produce the product protein, or damage to the protein molecule.
Bioreactors are controlled to provide optimal growth conditions, but bacteria grow much faster than mammalian cells. A single bacteria can multiply exponentially and take over a bioreactor in less than 24-hours. If this happens, then the cell culture is good for nothing. The bioreactor contents must be killed and thrown out.
This is reminiscent of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:13 when He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.“
The Contamination Triangle identifies the three factors that must occur together in order to contaminate a bioreactor or other pure process. The first factor is the presence of a potentially contaminating organism in the environment. Second is an opening through which the organism can pass. Third is an operational force to move the organism through the opening. Removing or blocking any of these factors can prevent biological contamination.
In the spiritual parallel, the potentially contaminating organism is sin. As Christians, even though we live in a sin cursed world, we are not supposed to be “of the world” (John 17:17). Because we live in a world filled with sin, it is not possible to completely remove or block this leg of the sin triangle.
What we can do is seek to reduce the concentration of sin in our environment. We should not follow the advice of the ungodly, walk or stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in fellowship with the scornful (Psalm 1:1). Instead we should seek godly counsel, walk in paths of righteousness with faithful believers, and fellowship with Christians who love God and His Word.
We should read, study, and meditate on God’s Word. We should join a Bible believing church that preaches the gospel and glorifies God. Our closest friends should be other believers who share our faith in Christ.
The openings in a person’s life are through our 5 physical senses, especially what we see, hear, and feel. There are many corrupting influences in this sin filled world. It is impossible to completely avoid seeing or hearing them. We can minimize our exposure though by being careful what we watch and listen to, and where we go.
There are many forces working in a person’s life. We are all subject to social pressures from peers, family, friends, teachers, coworkers, the media, and more. These all seek to make us conform to their worldly ways. Sometimes the pressure to conform becomes more coercive through governmental laws, threats of job loss, civil lawsuits, and even physical violence.
“Marvel not, . . . if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13), because the world hated Jesus before you (John 15:18). “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I (Jesus) have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19)
What should our response be to the world’s harsh hatred? Jesus said,
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matt. 5:10-12)
Jesus said that we should love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). He called us to be salt and light in this corrupt and dark world. Jesus commanded, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
The apostle Paul encouraged us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. . . And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
Peter said we should cast all our care upon God, because God cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). Peter also warned us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
Perhaps more insidious than these outward pressures to conform to the sins of the world, is our perverse attraction to them through the lust of our sinful flesh. Our sin nature is like a vacuum cleaner that sucks dirt in from the floor. These inward forces include fear, pride, and sinful desire.
The apostle John said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
“every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
In Romans 7:14-21, the apostle Paul recorded his own struggle with the sin that dwells within.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Paul continued on in Romans 8:1-14, declaring victory over sin through the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
So Paul taught that true Christians will experience an inner war between the lusts of their sinful flesh and the influence of the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within them. We need to kill the sinful deeds and desires of our flesh, and choose to walk in the Spirit. Unfortunately the fight against sin is not a one-time battle. It is a constant struggle, which must be fought every day.
Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:3). If we want to please the Lord, then we must deny our sinful nature, die to our selfish desires, and walk in the way of Jesus Christ each and every day.
The fight against sin is not a one-time battle. It is a constant struggle, which must be fought everyday.
Non-Christians have no hope of living a pure life. They are dead both in flesh and in spirit. The first step in winning the battle against sin is to recognize that you cannot do it on your own. God’s standard is perfection, so one sin is enough to condemn you to hell.
Our only hope for salvation from spiritual death and hell is through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who died to pay for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification (Rom. 4:25; 5:16). We must accept the gift of salvation by confessing our sin and calling upon God to save us based on the finished work of Christ. (Please click here for more salvation information on how you can be forgiven and know you are going to heaven.)
As born again believers, true Christians are sinners saved by God’s grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We are “new creatures” in Christ for whom “all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). We are brought to life spiritually through the indwelling Holy Spirit, Whom we received when we trusted Jesus as our Savior.
Unfortunately, even after salvation, our body remains dead in trespasses and sin. We continue having a sin nature. Our flesh continues to lust after the things of this corrupt world, from which it came. As Paul said, “if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Rom. 8:10). And as Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63).
The apostle Paul summed up his inner struggle in Romans 7:22-24:
In the next verse (Rom. 7:25), Paul answered his own question:
Even after the salvation of our souls from the consequences of sin, our hope of victory over sin in our lives remains in Jesus Christ.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
We clean our bio-process equipment before and after each use to prevent cross contamination or adulteration of our product with foreign matter. Cleaning chemicals are used to aid the cleaning process. We end the cleaning by flushing the equipment with WFI (Water For Injection). This pure water dilutes and flushes out any traces of the cleaning chemicals that remain.
Because of our sin nature, we all sin every day. When we get dirty physically we wash our hands, take a shower, or bathe. But what about our souls? How can we wash the sin our of our life? The apostle John gave us the answer in 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God has promised to forgive our sins and wash us from all unrighteousness if we will just admit our sin. The way we shower spiritually is by confessing our sins to God in prayer. It is best to confess as soon as you realize you have sinned. As a minimum, you should confess your sins daily, just as you wash your body daily (I hope).
We have an old saying in the bio-processing and sterile pharmaceutical industry: “The solution to pollution is dilution.” This principle of dilution applies to the Cleanrooms in which we manufacture our products.
People shed thousands of dead skin flakes every minute, some of which harbor naturally occurring skin borne bacteria. We combat this by special gowning to contain the human shedding, by routine cleaning with disinfectants, and by rapidly recirculating the room air through HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which are 99.99% efficient. The HEPA filtered air flushes out the particles and undesirable organisms that would otherwise be present in the air.
When possible, we also maintain positive pressure in our Bioreactors and process vessels using sterile filtered air to ensure any leakage that might occur will be from the clean vessel out, rather than into the clean vessel from the environment.
Similarly, we should continually flush our hearts, souls and mind with God’s Word, the Bible. David highlighted the value of God’s Word in Psalm 119:
And Jesus prayed for His disciples, asking the Heavenly Father to “sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
In the bio-pharmaceutical industry, we are very careful about what we put in our bioreactors. We apply strict controls to the raw materials we use. We audit the vendors we buy from to ensure they make their products with proper quality controls. We test the raw materials we receive to ensure they meet our quality specifications. We ensure our raw materials are stored under the proper conditions. We are very selective and strict about what goes into our processes.
It has been said, “You become what you think about.” Are you careful about what you let into your heart and mind? Paul summed it up this way in his epistle to the Philippians:
In bio-processing, three conditions are necessary for biological contamination to enter a Bioreactor or sterile system: a microorganism, an opening, and a force to move the organism through the opening. If any one of these conditions can be prevented, then there will be no contamination.
Sin in the life of a Christian is like microbial contamination in a Bioreactor. The spiritual application of the Contamination Triangle says there are three steps to prevent sin from entering your life. First, minimize the sin you are exposed to in your environment. Second, restrict the openings in your life by being careful what you watch and listen to. Third, fill your mind with the Word of God, think about good things, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, successfully applying the Contamination Triangle spiritually is much more difficult than preventing contamination in a Biotech process vessel. The reason is simply because we can sterilize a Bioreactor to ensure that it starts out contamination free. But our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).
Because of our sin nature, there is no way to completely eradicate the sin from our fleshly hearts. Sin just wells up from within us like water from a spring fed well. No matter how hard we try to keep worldly sin out, we cannot eliminate the sin from within.
We need God’s help to win this inner battle against sin. First, we must be born again spiritually through faith in Christ to receive the Holy Spirit. We must fill our hearts and minds with God’s Word by reading the Bible and meditating on it day and night (Ps 1:2). We must continually confess our sins as we commit them (1 John 1:9). We must die to ourselves daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). And we must be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18; Rom. 8:14).