Sometime after Christmas 2016, perhaps in early January, I noticed a small, painful bump on the back of my hand. I knew it was not the normal old age stuff because it hurt like crazy every time I touched or bumped it. Since I was scheduled for a skin checkup at the Veteran’s Administration hospital I thought I’d just ask them what it was. The doc looked at it and said it was probably one of three things, a boil, a mole in the making, or a skin cancer. To determine which of the three it was, he did a biopsy and cut the bump off my hand. The biopsy showed that it was a squamous cell carcinoma, a fairly common skin cancer with a high rate of recovery.
The treatment was a procedure I’d never heard of but one which is now commonly used for cancer surgeries on the face or hands. It’s called Mohs surgery and is named after Dr. Frederick Mohs, the man who invented the procedure in the 1930s. Mohs surgery involves removing thin layers of skin at the infected site and analyzing them under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present. The goal is to reach a point where there are no more cancer cells in the skin layer studied. Mohs is a widely used procedure in that it spares healthy tissue and reduces the need for future surgeries.
What does all this have to do with sin? Plenty! The Bible tells us that we need to repent of sin. Acts 3:19 is a pretty good summary of its message, “Repent, therefore, and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The Holy Spirit does His job of convicting us and afflicting our consciences concerning sin. Like cancer, sin will kill us if we don’t deal with it. We feel the pain of our sins like the bump on the back of my hand. To alleviate the pain, because we’re pain-avoidant people, we repent of our sin. Like excising the bump from my hand for the biopsy, we repent of the visible sin and we feel significant relief from pain when we do. Repentance is amazing!
The problem is that the below-the-surface cancer cells of sin that caused the visible sin in the first place are still there. They have not been dealt with. We need spiritual Mohs surgery. We need to go deeper and keep cutting and repenting of the roots of the sin until we have removed it and there are no more sin cancer cells. It is a time-consuming, gut-wrenching, painful process which cannot be done alone. A trained counselor is required to encourage you through the process. The outcome is amazing! No more pain. No more guilt. No more shame. We’ve truly repented and are free!
Christ died to free us from the cancer of sin,