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  • Writer's picturePastor DJ Harry

Can Cancer be Blamed on Sin?


Is cancer the result of sin?  That question seems very harsh.  Well, in the end the answer is yes.  Please don’t hate me yet.  Read on.

One of the most dreaded things to hear at a doctor’s visit are these stinging

words, “You’ve got cancer.”  Undoubtedly someone in your family or circle of friends has been stricken with this disease.  Diagnosis can range from minor topical treatments to extensive surgery and chemotherapy.  Sadly, we have all seen loved ones struggle through those last days knowing that the treatments are only prolonging the tightening grip of the disease.

It is during these dark times that we begin to ask questions that probe the deepness of the soul.  Night after night of reflection can bring even the strongest Christian to the point where he asks this question, “Is my illness a result of sin?”  Before you pass this off as a silly or trite, understand that an entire book of the Old Testament is set aside to share with us the story of Job and to understand life’s devastation from his perspective.

 Job’s Story


 Job was an upright man.  Scripture tells us that in all of his doing, Job was a man that feared God and walked righteously.  He was a faithful family man that was devoted to one wife and raising his ten children.  Job was also a wealthy man; his riches exceeded the wealth of all others that were living. He had thousands of cattle, sheep, and donkeys as well as the servants and land to tend them.  He was blessed in every imaginable way.

Then disaster struck.  One day filled with tragedy defines the rest of his life

and shapes the direction of the Job narrative.  All his children were killed as the house collapsed in a windstorm.  Fire from heaven killed all his sheep. The Sabeans descended and took all his oxen and killed his servants.  The Chaldeans attacked and took all his camels.  In all of recorded human history, the calamity of Job is rarely rivaled.  Shortly after Job was stricken by boils over his entire body.  His physical frame was brought to ashes as he sat and pondered the reasons for all that had happened.

Job’s Steadfast Faith

 Scripture declares that in this time of searching, Job did not curse God.  His integrity held firm and He trusted by faith in Jehovah.  Job recognized that we should rejoice when we receive ‘good’ from God and should also rejoice when we receive ‘evil’ from the hands of the same loving and gracious God.  Even with those around him pushing him to give in and perish, Job’s steadfast faith drove him to trust that God was good no matter the circumstances.

Job’s Friends

 Enter Job’s three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  They sat with Job for seven days without speaking a single word; they saw that he was overwhelmed with grief and pain.  When they finally begin to speak, their words are anything less that encouraging.  “Job, your problems are your own fault.  Did God every punish the innocent like this?”  “Job, only those that plow and sow iniquity reap the harvest you are reaping.”  “Job, if your hands are full of iniquity, then confess and put it away from you!”  Do you see what his three friends did?  They told Job that his cancer (his suffering) was because he had a heart full of sin!  Job’s friends fell prey to the tempting conclusion that bad things happen to people only as a result of their bad behavior.

Job’s Example

 Simply put, Job’s three best friends got it all wrong!  Their misdiagnosis was a result of their misunderstand of suffering and pain.  They were convinced that only the unjust and unrighteous suffer.  THEY!  WERE!  WRONG!  How foolish we are to think that because a

person loves and serves God with all their heart that life will be filled with ease.  Job understood this and exclaimed, “…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)  In the same way it is foolish for us to look at difficulties in our own or other’s lives and automatically assume that physical ailments are the result of our own sinful behavior.

Sin-Cursed Flesh

 So we come back to the beginning question, “Is cancer a result of sin?”  Well, in a nutshell the answer is ‘yes’ but not necessarily your own sin.  To be more exact, cancer is a result of a particular sin that occurred thousands of years ago.  The sin penalty of Genesis 3 placed the curse of death on human flesh that has rippled down through the centuries.  Generation after generation of sin-cursed humans have passed their sin-cursed DNA to their sin-cursed children.  Do you get the point?  Cancer is the result of our sin cursed flesh.

In Conclusion


 The situation that I am referring to, of course, is with cancer not brought on by one’s own actions.  If you willingly choose behaviors that increase your risk of cancer, the results are less the consequence of Adam’s sin and more the result of your choices.  To those, however, whose bodies are plagued by cancer and whose hearts stand pure and open before the Lord, like Job you can walk through your illness and trust that our God is a still a good God.

What is your story?  Would you share an example of how God was good even through your trial?

DJHarry     Isaiah 64:8     We are the clay!

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