15. THe disease of Sin produces symptoms we call "sins."

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. {Romans 14:23}

When you go to the doctor because you’ve had a high fever and vomiting for several hours, the doctor is not going to treat your high fever and vomiting. Those are only symptoms. You want the high fever and vomiting to stop because they are making you miserable. And the doctor probably wants them to stop, too. But what he wants even more is to discover why you have a high fever and vomiting. Instead of just treating the symptoms, he wants to diagnose the problem so he can cure that, because he knows that if he cures the problem, the symptoms will also disappear.

The attitude of rebellion and distrust we have been discussing is called Sin, and Sin is the problem. There is no other problem. But there are a whole lot of associated symptoms, and we also refer to those as “sins.” These are the individual acts or behaviors that cause harm to ourselves or others. But these behaviors are not the problem; they’re only the symptoms of the real problem, which is our rebellious distrust of God.

So you might imagine that, just like a good doctor, God isn’t interested in treating the symptoms. He wants to cure the problem. He knows that if He can cure the problem, the symptoms will also disappear. We, on the other hand, are almost exclusively focused on getting rid of our symptoms, on making sure we correct our bad behavior. Ironically, this is yet another manifestation of our distrust in the Doctor! If our obsession with our symptoms interferes with God’s treatment of our problem, then we’re still in critical condition.

In this verse from Romans 14, Paul lumps all of Sin’s symptoms together—from small things like white lies and eating “unclean” meat to big things like murder and child abuse. Anything that is not done from a heart of trusting God, he says, is wrong. That means, even if we do all the good in the world, but it’s done outside of a trusting relationship with God, it’s sin.

Our problem can never be cured as long as we’re unwilling to listen to the doctor. We may run to Him because our symptoms are causing misery and distress, but we had better stay long enough to hear the diagnosis. For God isn’t interested in weeding out our sins. He’s interested in curing our Sin.

If you want to dig deeper—
Luke 6:45
Romans 6:23
James 1:15