When people are sick, they go to the doctor, seeking relief. What do we do if the diagnosis is wrong and the remedies don’t keep us from dying?
Tell the doctor where it hurts.
Back in the 1950s, we didn’t have all the scientific tests and medical miracles of today. People seldom knew why they were sick. They saw the doctor, took medicines, and got better. Or they got worse and died.
When I was little and hurting, the doctor never asked what was wrong with me. How would I know? He took my temperature and asked how I felt. Where was I hurting? From the symptoms, he guessed the disease and prescribed something he thought would help.
So far, I keep getting better.
Our Great Physician makes no mistakes.
God knows exactly why I’m hurting and what I need to be well. But if I’m not willing to take the medicine he prescribes, I can’t eliminate the symptoms, let alone cure the disease.
So I asked the Lord, “What do I need to do to keep from dying?”
I’d heard that death was the consequence for sin, so I was surprised to learn that sin was a symptom, not the disease that leads to death.
The symptoms are much more common than I had thought. The obvious sins like lying, stealing, and murder weren’t a problem. Did that mean I was cured? No, failure to do the good I knew to do was sin, a symptom that proved the disease was still there.
Sin is the symptom, not the disease.
I can choose what God wants and live, or I can go my own way and die. Whenever I want something other than what God wants, I’ve separated myself from him and walk a path that leaves me hurting and facing death. But if I want to live and not die, to be free from sin and death, then I can never surrender to the “My Way” disease and sing the song, “I Did It My Way.”

Sin is failure to do the good you know you should do. Sin’s paycheck is death, but God rewards us with eternal life because of Jesus Christ our Lord. — James 4:17, Romans 6:23, The Discussion Bible