Cancer. Sixty years ago you almost never heard the word. And if you did, it was often in hushed tones. Church prayer lists rarely had cancer patients listed. Today cancer is a common word. Prayer lists now have whole sections for cancer patients. Cancer drugs are regularly advertised on American television. Currently 54% of Americans say that someone in their immediate family has been diagnosed with a cancer. It is said that almost every person in America knows or knows of someone who has been diagnosed. It may be that cancers are more prevalent today. Or it may just be that people didn’t talk about it back then.
Sin. Sixty years ago you frequently heard the word, in or out of church. What is now called cohabitation was generally called living in sin. In 1955 Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads hit number seven on the Billboard charts with the 1939 song, “It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie.” Today you rarely hear the word, and when you do it is often in hushed tones. Church prayer lists rarely refer to sin openly. Even many preachers never say the word. Yet 100% of people in the world today can be diagnosed with sin. It is not that sin was more prevalent back then. People just don’t talk about it today.
Sin is a problem. “All have sinned.” (Rom 5:12) It is endemic in the human population. Just as great an issue is that people are afraid to identify sin. It is now a “lifestyle” or a “problem.” It is politically incorrect to call sin “sin.” (People who use the term “politically incorrect” usually forget that it was popularized by one of the worst mass-murderers in history, Josef Stalin, to justify his own crimes.) The problem is that people who sin don’t want to admit that they are on the wrong side of God’s laws, or don’t want to admit that there is a God. As it used to be with cancer, if you don’t use the word, maybe the problem doesn’t exist. It wasn’t true of cancer sixty years ago, and it isn’t true of sin today.
Most cancers are treatable. The effectiveness of that treatment often depends on how early in the progress of the disease it is diagnosed. One of the biggest causes of late diagnosis is that people don’t want to see the doctor because they are afraid of what might be found; then when it is found it is too late to treat it effectively. All sin is treatable. The effectiveness of the treatment increases with the patient’s willingness to face the possibility of a diagnosis. Those who are afraid to admit to sin will most often die in sin.
The treatment for sin is 100% effective. It is a simple blood transfusion; contact with the blood of Jesus.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom 5:8-10)
Paul goes on to describe the method by which we are justified by his blood.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom 6: 4)
Just as talk of cancer is now in the open, in part because of better treatments, so we should also bring talk of sin back into the open. People are dying. And the cure is waiting for them.