Cancer, Sin & Death

Everyone I know has seen their lives touched by cancer. It’s a powerful destructive force and perhaps the worst news you can receive from your health care professional. This last year our family has heard this news far too often. All of us are still grieving the loss of loved ones to cancer’s appetite.

To understand anything about cancer and the way it impacts the body is to recognize what a perversion it is to the natural order. Our bodies are miraculous. They are designed to work in a glorious symphony with overlapping systems supporting each other. Many of these systems would fail if they were not calibrated to work perfectly with the rest of the body. The miracle of life, is indeed a miracle and it’s impossible to believe that it could have been generated from random chance.

Life and our bodies are the result of intricate, precision design and we can see the results of this as our bodies grow, develop and heal. Of course, there are exceptions to this and maybe we’ve experienced that ourselves. Sometimes, our bodies don’t work in the way they’re designed.

This is what cancer is. It’s a corruption of the body’s created order. It takes what should be a normal process of the body (cell growth) and uses it to destroy and kill. I try to be careful about using terms like hate too frequently, but I hate cancer. I hate what it does. I hate the way it has affected the people I love. I would guess that if you’ve been impacted the same way as I have you probably feel as I do.

Recently, as we were caring for a loved one who was struggling in their fight against cancer, I couldn’t help but think how similar it is to another destructive force in our lives. That is the force of sin. Like cancer, sin is a corruption of God’s design for creation and the natural order.

We are made with certain desires and inclinations. This is a part of our design in much the same way as our physical design. Some of these are common to all people and others are unique to us as individuals, but for all of these God has given us a framework in which to function.

Some people try to paint the Bible and God’s laws as a long list of ‘thou shalt not’s’, but you are better off if you look at them as God’s plan for you to function as you were created to be. Some of God’s Word provides us with a guide for healthy living, but in other sections it lays out clear markers that we’re not to cross. Breaking these barriers is called sin.

Sin is when we take God’s best plan for us and cast it aside to follow our own desires on a destructive path. God knows us. He knows who we should be. He knows what’s best for us, but still we turn to sin. This is to our own dismay.

Sin may provide a short term pleasure and fulfillment, but it ends up cracking the foundations that God has laid for our lives.

Whenever Non-Christians hear Christians talk about sin, there are usually many accusations that come. Christians are accused of judging others. Of thinking they are better than you. Of being self-righteous hypocrites. Of putting themselves in the place of God. But when I look at people lost in sin, I feel nothing but grief and sadness.

The pain and suffering that a life of sin brings can be just as destructive as cancer in its own way. When someone you love makes one bad choice after another it’s a tragedy. Who hasn’t looked at the life of a loved one and wished you could take control and protect them from a choice that will bring harm to them and others. I imagine this is how God feels for all of us from time to time.

God describes his own grief over the sins of people in many places in the Bible, but I was recently reading in the book of Isaiah and found a very vivid description. In Isaiah 5, we find a list of woes for those who have chosen a different path, apart from God. Read this passage and hear the grief of God as He mourns for disobedient children:

18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
  and wickedness as with cart ropes,
19 to those who say, “Let God hurry;
    let him hasten his work
   so we may see it.
The plan of the Holy One of Israel—
   let it approach, let it come into view,
  so we may know it.”
20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.

Isaiah 5:18-21

Woes can be seen as a form of judgement, but when I read this passage, I hear a grieving Father, suffering as He watches His children suffer. Sin is the destructive force that takes that which is good and right and pure and corrupts it into a trap that is difficult to escape.

We should fear sin in the same way that we fear cancer. As cancer destroys the body, so sin destroys the soul. The death of a physical body on this earth is a great tragedy, but eternal damnation apart from God is a much greater one. Cancer has no real cure. There are many treatments, but few guarantees. Once we’ve heard those horrible words, “you have cancer,” we face an uncertain future.

Fortunately, sin does have a solution. In God’s created order, He made a way out of sin. This isn’t a magic cure, but rather a solution based on Christ, God’s Holy Son. Sin could never touch Him. It has no impact on Him. He lived a sinless life and died a perfect death. Now we can be free of death through the power of Christ and His holy sacrifice.

Later in Isaiah, the prophet writes in chapter 7, verse 14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel means God with us. God came down and lived in the land of sin and cancer and death, but it could not claim Him. Now, we have the possibility of a life forever with God through the sacrifice of His son.

Cancer is an awful, evil thing, but there are worse things than physical death. If you are alive today and do not know Jesus Christ, you face a fate far worse than cancer. Turn to Him, repent of your sins and believe that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life and then died on a cross for our sins. By putting your faith and trust in Him, you can live a life free of the threat of spiritual death. That is something you can guarantee today, right now. That is something worth celebrating, not grieving.

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