Summary: With so little talk about sin today, this message is a reminder.

The Cancer of Sin

James 4:17

Jerry Watts

* Very few things strike fear into a person like the words of a doctor saying, “You have cancer.” There is probably not a person in this room who has not been affected by this disease. Some know all too personally as you have gone through the trauma of a personal diagnosis, others have had family, friends, and loved ones to be found with this horrible disease. This week I attempted to digest the CDC’s 2008 report on cancer and best I can tell, we are making in-roads to reduce cases and to winning the battle against this life threatening disease.

* I do understand that to mention this disease is to bring us ‘DIS—EASE’ because this topic is so emotional. But I remind you of the words of our Lord in Matthew 12:28, “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” There is a cancer which, while it can touch and kill our body, if left alone, it will eat our very soul. That cancer is the cancer of sin.

* The question for many is “What exactly is sin?” Our RA’s and GA’s can probably answer this question with more sincerity than many of us adult. Sin is when we displease God or missing the mark.

* James 4:17 gives a good understanding of sin when it says - “So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn't do it, it is a sin.” Today, let’s take a fresh look at sin and be reminded of its potential impact.

1. The Truth about Sin – In our day, very few care to hear the truth about sin. We prefer to rename it as a mistake, bad decision, or any name which makes it sound ‘not so bad.’ The common practice is to hide behind phrases like, “No one is perfect.” Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall when someone tries that at judgment? Let’s consider several words which describe sin.

a. Sin is Personal – This means EVERYBODY sin. Paul quotes the Old Testament in Romans 3 when he writes, “There is none righteous, no not one” and continue to drive home this truth when he says, “ALL have sinned.” John writes (1 Jn 1:8), “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” This is how personal sin is, you do it and if you say you don’t, you lie! Left to our own sin runs rampant. Yet, it is not the same sin for everyone. For some, it’s the sensual, sexual sins; while for others it is sins of speech (cursing, swearing, gossiping), while for others it is the sin of greed (thievery, cheating, defrauding), and for others there can be even more. Satan KNOWS where you can be tempted.

b. Sin is Persistent – Romans 6 tells us that we are (or were) slaves of sin & that means sin was our master. In other words, before we meet Jesus, we do what sin tells us to do. Can you remember what it was like to have sin rule and run your life. “Sin never gives up on its own, it’s persistent.” In fact, it will keep coming back. How many times do we know of that cancer has been removed only to come back at a later time? Because of our fallen nature, thanks to our father “Adam”, sin stays after us all the days our of life. When you ‘think’ you have it beat it comes back. Remember that even Paul said, “What I want to do, I don’t and what I don’t want to do, I do.” He knew that sin never gives up. Satan never stops playing darts (with fiery darts) with your heart as a target. It’s persistent.

c. Sin is Pervasive – This means that the cancer of sin affects every part of your life. If a man is consumed with lust, it will affect how he responds to his wife and the affection he can show for his children. If he is consumed with gambling, it will impact the way he thinks and the things he does. Secret sin will impact you even greater. It will make you seem like a multiple personality. It’ll cause you to lie to the ones you say you love and deceive your closest friends. The cost of sin is high.

d. Sin is Progressive – Sin never stops wanting more. King David began with laziness, but that wasn’t even so it moved to lust. Lust is never satisfying so it move to immorality. Immorality grabs you and makes you crave even more, so David had to cover his tracks so he attempted deception and then murder. The progression of sin never stops! James gives us this progression; Lust gives birth to sin. And sin gives birth to death. So lust is the granddaddy of death. “Sin will carry you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and make you pay more than you want to pay.” There is no controlling sin, it never stops eating.

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