In today’s message, two of the Rock’s members shared their experiences battling cancer. Pastor Miles drew parallels between physical cancer and the spiritual cancer that we all face: sin.
Our spiritual cancer causes us to operate outside of those guidelines, doing what is right in our own eyes rather than following God’s plan.
Most of us know someone who someone who has cancer or who has died from cancer. But all of us know someone who has spiritual cancer. In physical cancer, the cells of the body grow outside of the rules that God established for healthy cell growth. In the same way, God has set up rules and guidelines for our spiritual lives—how we treat each other, how to love Him, how to forgive—and our spiritual cancer causes us to operate outside of those guidelines, doing what is right in our own eyes rather than following God’s plan.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18
Every single one of us has a terminal spiritual disease called sin that will cause us to die. Our sinful desires are at war with the Spirit of God; we struggle to do what we want rather than what God wants.
About 3 years ago, Tom Dahl diagnosed with throat cancer. As he met with doctors to discuss treatment, he was not anxious about it because he trusted God’s plan was for him. He didn’t believe that his life was finished on earth, but if it was, he would accept God’s will.
As Tom underwent radiation, little by little the daily buildup caused increased symptoms that would last far beyond the treatment was finished. But Tom was willing to follow wherever God was leading, live or die. He and his wife were dedicated to staying close to God, sharing openly with their friends, and not allowing their situation to change their lives and routine. People always say that God is in control, but to really have experienced that deep trust is an incredible feeling; it has given Tom the ability to look at things from a distance with acceptance.
After several weeks of treatment and surgery, Tom was declared cancer-free, but two years later, the cancer returned, having spread from his throat to his lungs. As he awaits a new treatment plan, Tom knows that if he maintains spiritual contact with God, he can trust in God’s plan and deal with circumstances, accepting whatever comes his way. When he says he believe in God, he really means it. He trusts in God’s plan without any qualifications. He may ask, as Jesus did, “Is there any other way?” but he finds comfort in the fact that any pain or inconvenience we can experience is nothing compared to the suffering of Jesus.
Tamela Reed was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001 while pregnant with her daughter. After the baby was born, Tamela spent about 60 days and had two bone marrow transplants. As a new mom, she felt devastated by all of this, as she was very sick and was unsure whether she would live or die. But she believed that God would heal her and she laid hands on herself daily to pray for healing. One day she woke up and discovered that her tumor was gone. Her doctor confirmed that the tumor looked like it had been healed over like a scab, but that she would still require treatment.
Tamela’s treatment, a weekly shot in stomach, makes her tired and weak. The fatigue is then countered by medication that gives her so much energy she may not be able to sleep. During treatment, Tamela became acutely aware of the lack of helpful services for cancer patients in San Diego. There was no one to offer help with homeschooling her children, caring for her house, etc. so God spoke to Tamela about establishing a Cancer Care ministry. She eventually began a program under God’s guidance with the aim of helping people who suffered from cancer. Cancer Care helps with basic needs, meals, clothing, and support groups where patients can see hope in action. They meet these needs knowing that the love of God is what changes people’s hearts. When the opportunity comes to share a faith in Jesus, patients are more open to accepting Him because they have experienced the tangible love that the services have provided.
Tamela recently received the news that she is cancer-free.
One of the most difficult parts of watching someone suffer from cancer is observing the progression symptoms. As the person loses weight, hair, energy, and general wellness, it looks like a slow and painful death, which is very hard to watch. The same is true with spiritual cancer; there are symptoms that make sin evident.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
These are evidence of our desire to do what we want to do rather than what God wants. You’ve likely experienced most of these symptoms of our spiritual cancer. We often view the world and others through a filter that is flawed, not recognizing our own sin that entangles us. But the Bible says:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
We don’t even know how our own perspective clouds our view of others and the world, so we must be careful not to judge others.
- What does your spiritual cancer, your spiritual disease called “sin,” cause you to do?
- What symptoms do you have of your spiritual disease?
- How can it be treated?
- How can we minister to others who are suffering from spiritual cancer?
Do you have a “dishwasher” view of God, believing that you need to be cleaned up before approaching Him because He can’t handle the chunks of “food and grime” that may be on you? God is the ultimate Dishwasher! He beckons all sinners to come to Him just as we are – however spiritually dirty you are, He can handle it.
Not everyone will die of physical cancer, but everyone will die of spiritual cancer (Romans 3:23). Sin is a spiritual offense, and our death is eternal separation from God. No money, treatment, or amount of effort to be “better” can cure us. The only way to be cleansed from our spiritual cancer is by accepting the free gift of salvation, believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead in power and authority (Romans 6:23). Sin will kill us, but it doesn’t have to kill us eternally. We have the opportunity to admit our spiritual cancer to God and proclaim faith in His Son, accepting His offer of salvation by faith.