That’s a pretty ominous title, isn’t it?!
You might expect me to announce that I have been diagnosed with cancer. In fact, what I have is worse than the cancer my father fought.
What ails me?
“You are seriously trying to tell me that sin is worse than cancer?”
In a very real sense, cancer kills the body. It is destructive. It is often successful in its mission. Sin, however, always wins. It has a kill rate of 100%. It kills the soul that isn’t safe in Jesus and it killed Jesus as He became sin for His people (Rom. 3:26; 6:23; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Individuals are either dead in their sins or they are alive in Christ (Eph. 2:1-11).
I read Thomas A’Kempis this morning and the following phrase especially stood out to me:
“But oftentimes something lurketh within…” (I.14.2).
I love getting older because the older I get the more I understand me.
You probably know what I am talking about. As we mature, we gain a deeper understanding of our sinful inclinations and our weaknesses. We have long since given up our pursuit of perfection. We’ve exchanged idealism for realism. Rather than seeking a cause through which we can save the world, we begin praying that we don’t mess it up as much as we used to do.
The more I understand me the better I can control me.
There is another mark of maturity. First, we recognize that while we may have come a long way by the grace of God, we have quite a distance to go before we can truly sing the line of a popular praise song, “in all I do, I honor You.” Second, we grasp the truth that self-control is a requirement if we are going to bless instead of curse those around us.
It’s a character trait commanded throughout the New Testament. Without a doubt, it isn’t an easy task. While some of us may be more inclined to personal discipline, our sinful flesh still desires to rule the day. Every day becomes a war zone. This is particularly true for followers of Christ. We passionately want to honor Him in all we do, but our testimony parallels that of the Apostle Paul in Romans, chapter seven.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Can you relate to this intense personal struggle? If not, fear for your soul! Either you are comfortable in your sin, not realizing that there is a fight, or you simply do not care that you are created to glorify your Creator and Sustainer–Jesus Christ.
But I care! Though I fail, I care. Though I sin, I care. Though I often lose in battle, I care. And I hope you do as well!
What keeps you from becoming despondent in your fight against that which lurketh within? What helps us from tossing in the towel and returning to the sin we once enjoyed? The answer to Paul’s rhetorical question!
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The answer is Jesus Christ! Paul continued in Romans, chapter eight:
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The better I control me the more I realize that there is to control.
And that’s when I comprehend that I need Jesus Christ as much today as the day I met Him. A further mark of spiritual maturity.
Please believe me when I say that I searched for a word that began with the self- prefix so that my three marks of maturity all started in the same manner. However, self- is the antithesis of what the Scripture teaches on this subject. What we truly need is outside of ourselves. What we truly need is the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is our only remedy for sin–for our sin–for the sin we committed today.
Yes, I do have something worse than cancer. But I also have something better than chemotherapy and radiation. I have Christ!
10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, [and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”