This post is taken from a recent sermon on our “Spiritual Sicknesses Series.”
Cancer is horrible.
One of the things that makes cancer so awful is that it is, effectively, us!
Cancer is what happens when a tiny part of you makes a copy of itself. But instead of stopping after one copy, the cellular gas pedal gets stuck and like some deranged Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going and going and… Eventually these cells become the tumors which strangle the life of out of the rest of your body.
Cancer is hard to treat. Almost anything that will kill cancer will kill you. It hides. It feeds off the same systems that feed you. It spreads.
Can you think of a spiritual condition that this is like?
2 Timothy 2:14-19 describes people who constantly quarrel about words, who speak irreverent babble, who lead to ungodliness and division, who swerve from the faith, and upset the faith of some. Paul told Timothy that their “talk will spread like gangrene.”
He is describing people with an argumentative heart.
It’s a simple mutation. It’s a good thing to stand up for what is right. But when the devil pushes the gas pedal on a virtue, he turns it into a vice. Righteousness is only four letters away from self-righteousness. It begins taking over a person, and Paul warns Timothy to make sure it doesn’t take over a church.
There’s another example in Hebrews 12:12-17. The Hebrews author warns about a “root of bitterness” that can spring up and destroy people.
Is it natural to be upset when you’re wronged? Absolutely. Remember that Jesus got angry from time to time.
But what happens when the devil pushes the gas on that feeling? It takes over. And it can be deadly.
We have to be careful to examine our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” Matthew 15:19 says that from “the heart come evil thoughts” like murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander. These things take over.
The easiest time to deal with cancer is when it is first formed, before it can spread. The same is true with spiritual cancers. It is easier to excise a little bitterness from your heart today than it is to try to force forgiveness in twenty years.
When you are diagnosed with a physical cancer, your life depends on the doctors acting act quickly and decisively. The same is true of the soul!