I saw the effects of it in an old friend ravaged by a virus that attacked his motor skills to the point he lost the ability to speak. I saw it in another friend fighting the grief of losing their spouse to disease. It reared its head in the news of another family friend who discovered their six-year-old has cancer and will be heading to chemo. Why is there any of this in the world? The short answer is sin. One man’s disobedience unleashed a torrent of guilt, condemnation, sickness, and death. All illness and death result from sin, even when it is not the result of any specific act of evil in the sufferer’s life.
Seldom do we think about sin with as much seriousness as we should, but its destruction is all around us. Its effects devastate both those we love and those we consider enemies. Quite often, we play with sin as if it were a favored pet that could never turn on us, but in reality, the only reason we think little of it is because it has already sunk its teeth into us and has us under its sway. Scripture speaks of the exceeding deceitfulness of sin, and part of that deceitfulness is that it convinces us of its harmlessness, but when we see the havoc it has unleashed upon this world, we should think twice.
The truth is that the diseases and death that plague us are not our most significant problems. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and our sin condemns us before a holy and just judge. Eternal punishment is the only proper retribution for finite creatures who sin against an infinite God. Part of sin’s tyranny is to convince us that though we may not be perfect, we certainly do not deserve the wrath of God. When we revolt against the doctrine of hell, we do so because of the sin that indwells us. The deceitfulness of sin does not stop there. It moves us to suppress this truth and, therefore, reject the remedy that could set us free from sin’s captivity.
Yet, by the grace of God, Scripture tells us that Jesus can break the chains of hell that hold us captive. Through Christ, all who have faith in Him have peace with God and have been set free from sin (Rom 6:18). Our sins have been forgiven, the wrath we deserved has been satisfied on the cross, and we are no longer slaves to sin. Though this does not mean we will never contend with our sinful nature again, it does mean that through the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ has released us from sin’s ultimate deception. We once were blind, but now we see. On top of this, he has promised that He will complete the work He has started in us. We will grow in sanctification and, one day, be glorified.
For the believer, Christ will break all of sin’s bondage in our lives, including the disease and death that resulted from it. Because of his resurrection, we, too, will be resurrected. Though we were sown perishable, we will be raised imperishable. Though we have been sown in dishonor, we will be raised in glory. And though we have been sown in weakness, we will be raised in power (1 Cor. 15:42-43). Even though death has reigned through one man’s trespass, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17).
When you look around and see the ravaging effects of sin in yourself and the lives of those around you, remember to take sin seriously, but trust even more in Christ, “who breaks the power of cancelled sin, and sets the prisoner free.” The tyranny of sin falls before the risen Savior.