Is it lack of faith?
-Jorge L. Trujillo
According to some preachers, including one that I heard recently and what has prompt me to write this article, Christians get sick (or remain sick) because they do not have faith. This preacher I heard said emphatically that “sickness is a curse” and that “no Christian should be sick.” But since there are many Christians that are sick he asked God why:
“I asked God: Why do Christians remain sick? And God told me that it’s because they do not believe. I asked Him again and he repeated to me “because they do not believe” and of course I did not dare to ask again”.
Then the preacher continued saying something like this:
“Christians do not to go to the doctor when the first symptoms of sickness are felt in their bodies, that would be the proof of their unbelief. They need to rebuke the sickness, they need to bind little Satan and reject the symptoms. And they should consider themselves completely healed.”
He stated that whenever he felt some pain in his heart (chest pains), he would “bind the little devil and tell him to go away with his lie, that he was a liar”. He said he had lost count of how many times he had bound the devil after feeling the pain around his heart. The preacher kept repeating to a very enthusiastic crowd: “Little devil go away with your lie”.
Now, to many who were gathered, that was a satisfactory and acceptable answer to why are there sick christians, so they applauded the preacher and his 'one-liners' about the “little devil”. However, others who look at the pertinent Scriptural foundation and its proper interpretation, are not so easily convinced. After reading a passage of the Bible that by the way, was not even looked at or mentioned again during the one and a half hour sermon that followed, the first thing the preacher said was “sickness is a curse and anyone who thinks that sickness is a blessing needs to pray to be sick”. He did not want to have a curse on him, so no Christian should accept the curse of sickness. He then proceeded to read a few passages from the Old Testament where the Bible states that if the people of Israel disobeyed, God would "curse them and make them sick with the same plagues He had brought upon the Egyptians". He also cited the Old Testament passage in Psalms that says, “...neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:10).. The preacher stated that God was a good Father and did not want his children to be sick because no father would ever want his children to be sick. “It is not the will of God for any Christian to be sick”, said the preacher. Then he asked rhetorically: "Would you want your children to be sick?" Of course who would answer ‘YES’ to that question – maybe nobody in his right mind or in a perfect day, but despite his claims, I have heard some mothers and fathers (mine included) declare that they would prefer their children to be sick in bed or even dead instead of living sinful lives. So, maybe there is something good about being sick or even dead. But that would be another article.
One would conclude that perhaps the reason why many have been deceived into believing how they do about sickness because of the pure emotional manipulation coupled with some verses taken out of context by preachers like the one I heard. The whole focus of his message was supposedly to get people to come to faith in Christ and be saved (which I agree is an admirable goal and desire it as well), but it seemed more important to get the listeners, who for the most part were Christians, to have enough faith to be ‘divinely healed’. I must admit that many (not all) of the things said about sickness were not totally wrong, in fact, some of it was totally correct ‘except’ that it was not ‘all’ the biblical truth about the topic and the majority of Christians do not know that. In my humble understanding, I think that the topic of physical illness can be considered a ‘mystery’ of the Bible. Like it or not, the truth is that Christians do get sick and the majority of them die from the last physical illness like Prophet Elisha did (2 Kings 13:14) as will probably happen to most of us including those who believe and preach as the above-mentioned evangelist does. One day, he too will die of his last illness. For the Bible has established that “all should die” (Heb. 9:27). Yes, sickness is a curse, or to put it in a more biblical way, sickness is part of ‘the’ curse that came upon man through Adams’ fall because of his failure to obey God. But we must understand that not only is sickness a curse, aging and physical death are curses also. Yet, mysteriously, God sometimes uses sickness, aging and death as means to operate the eternal salvation and blessing of his people and not only that, but it may be also used as a means to bringing closeness to the Lord during our lives or to even have one’s faith tried or tested and thereby strengthened. (Job 2:3-10)
How about physical death?
How come healing teachers do not ask God, “Why do Christians die?” Why don’t they tell their followers that is because of lack of faith? Since it’s very clear from the Biblical text that death is a much greater curse than sickness. Yes, I know that there are some going around in our day pretending that people will be raised from death in their ministries but those people they "raise" from the dead will die again (and by the way, the sick people that get healed will get sick again too).
The greatest curse that man faces after the spiritual death (separation from God) brought about by sin is physical death. Physical death is the clearest demonstration that we humans have come under the curse of Adam. Sin affected us not only spiritually but also physically. Death is a curse, the punishment for sin: God said to Adam “the day you eat of the forbidden fruit, you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23) and it was so. People die because of sin. Adam was created ‘mortal’ (he could die), not immortal (not able to die). His body was a body of dust and subject to decay and corruption (1 Cor. 15:53). Perfect obedience to God would have made this process completely avoidable (Gen. 3:22) but sin made this process totally certain (Gen. 3:17). Sin exposed our physical bodies to death and corruption. All peoples, including Christians have “corruptible” bodies made of 'dust' a corruptible material (1 Cor. 15:45-49) and therefore have propensity to suffer weakness and corruption especially after sin has infected our physical existence (Rom 7:14,23-24).
Death in Christians does not mean they are still ‘cursed’ for all Christians have being liberated from the 'real' curse of sin, eternal condemation (Romans 8:1). Death (and sickness) in Christians means that they still have a corruptible body, that’s all. In the cross Christ died to give us a new incorruptible body (1 Cor. 15:50). That has not happened yet. The Bible states that one day, on the last day, when we are resurrected at the second coming of Christ, we will receive an incorruptible body.
How about Aging?
Aging is as much part of the curse as sickness is, but it is interesting that those who promote physical healing do not include aging in their message. Aging is produced by ‘entropy’ or decay. It is part of the process of dying (which is part of the fall). The day Adam fell into sin he not only died spiritually on that same instant, but physical death began to do its work in him. The dying process began in his body; he started aging (dying slowly) and finally, 900 years later Adam succumbed under the “sickness of aging”. When we age our skin wrinkles, gray hair starts to show, our strength dwindles and finally time (age) takes its final toll on us and we finally die. Now, it's interesting that aging is not only a physical impairment but is also an emotionally painful process and the Bible says so very clearly. The biblical writer in Ecclesiastes 12 calls aging ‘the years of no contentment” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The eyes shut down, the teeth fall, the legs cannot hold the weight of the body and the hands cannot grip. Even the strongest of all men, if he lives long enough will feel to a greater or lesser degree the pains of aging.
Is it Lack of Faith?
God told this evangelist, as “He” supposedly has told many others that Christians who do not get healed after being prayed for is due to their unbelief. I honestly think that is one of the cruelest things a ‘minister’ can do to a sick sheep, to tell him, her or the parents of the creature that they have no faith – or that they do NOT believe. Think of it, many sick Christians believe that GOD is really using these evangelists and healers to do a divine work of healing in them. They come from far away places and sit there waiting to receive the prayer of healing. Many of them that night were in wheel chairs, walkers and even grown paralyzed child was in a stroller being pushed close to the stage by a caring person, probably his own father or mother. The night I attended the service, it lasted about 4 hours or more and the prayer for the sick was the last thing done. About 700 people (according to my calculations) went to the altar call for prayer and many others who did not go forward raised their hands indicating that they had some kind of sickness they wanted healing for. Interestingly many of those who "walked" to the front for prayer, rose their hands when the preacher asked, “How many have being healed tonight?” as expected, the testimonies followed. But sadly enough, after the prayer for healing was done, those people in wheel chairs had to be pushed back out of the field and the ones in walkers had to be helped back outside - they did not get healed. They were simply told, “the healing would come slowly “if” they kept believing that it had happened there that night”. So, it follows that if they don’t get any healing after that, which is what will most likely happen, they simply have no faith according to this preacher. To me, that is the cruelest form of manipulation a “man of God” can do to people.
Do you really think those sick people who go through the ordeal of getting out of the comfort of their homes and going the distance to be prayed for by "the man of God" after waiting three to four hours or more do not have any faith? Well, maybe so. On one occasion Jesus told the people that they followed him because they had received food and were satisfied but not because they had seen the signs of whom He was (John 6:26). Jesus told them, "You are not even believers in me". You want me to give you material food but you do not want the spiritual food, which is the most important one (vs. 27, 29). Jesus told them they were not Christians to begin with. But the problem here is that He was Jesus (God incarnate) and he knew exactly with whom he was dealing. He knew their hearts. But this is not the case now. These preachers can assure someone that he or she is a Christian (because of their faith) and at the same time tell them that they do not receive healing because they have no faith. That is exactly what this preacher and many others I’ve heard before have said. He said, “the most important thing tonight is that people get saved” and I agree with that statement, he was right about that. The most important thing that anyone can receive from God is his or her salvation. According to the Bible Salvation is received through faith (Eph. 2:8). But let’s make a ‘pause’ here and think about that:
If the most important thing is salvation and the less important is physical healing, then how is it possible that someone can have enough faith to receive the greater and most important thing and yet have no faith to receive the less important one?
In my view, it simply makes no sense and cannot be defended neither logically nor biblically simply because the word “Christians” is synonym with the word “believers” (Acts 2:44; 4:32, 5:12, 10:45). The Christians are called believers because they know Jesus is their savior who died in their place and rose on the third day. Believers know that He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. They know He rules the affairs of men (saved and unsaved) and has power over Satan and all the demons. Believers know that Jesus Christ our Lord "has all power in heaven and earth" (Matthew 28:18) and "does as He pleases and no one can stop Him". (Daniel 4:35) . And THAT is why they believe and trust in HIM. To say that Christians do not get healed because they don’t believe is a false, contradictory statement. It's actually saying that believers don’t get healed because they are not believers – that’s confusion.
Jesus was presented with an interesting situation. On one occasion a sick man, a paralytic, was brought to him, there were so many people around Jesus that some friends broke the roof of the house where Jesus was and lowered their sick friend in front of Him. The Bible says that Jesus saw “their faith” by their actions, because they had gone through the trouble of bringing their friend to Him. So, when the man was there lying in his sickbed, Jesus told him: “your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2). When Jesus said that, some of the religious leaders who heard him thought to themselves that he was blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. Jesus who knew their hearts replied “For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? In the Reformation Study Bible we read an interesting commentary on this verse:
“Forgiving sins is more difficult than performing a miracle, as the scribes would know since they recognized that only can forgive sins. But the forgives of sins cannot be seen by observers. Jesus performs the lesser deed to prove the greater.” Jesus was not only able to forgive sins and save (the greatest thing) but was also able to heal the body (the lesser thing). [Emphasis added]
That someone can suggest that ‘less’ faith is necessary to obtain the ‘greater’ benefit but “more” faith is necessary to obtain the ‘lesser’ benefit is mind baffling. Yet, that is exactly what these preachers are telling Christians. “The salvation of your soul which is such a GREATER work is received by faith, but that faith is not enough to receive the salvation of your body which is such a LESSER work.” Of course, someone could reply that the issue is not a matter of how much faith one has but about the ‘type’ of faith one should have. The faith to be saved would be a different "kind" of faith than the faith to be healed, thus one could have the ‘type’ of faith necessary to be saved but not the ‘type’ of faith necessary to be healed. That would seem logical, but there is a problem, the Bible nowhere supports the idea that there are several ‘types’ of faith - at least not when it come to the born again Christian in which case having faith to be saved includes also having faith to be healed and to persevere and to be comforted, and to do the work of the Lord, etc. (1 Peter 5:8-10). One verse in the Bible speaks of Christian faith and it assures us that is a gift of God. (Eph. 2:8), another verse speaks of the “gift of faith” (1 Cor. 12:9) given to some and the context suggest that is a reference no to a great degree of faith but to the understanding of biblical doctrine (compare with 1 Cor. 14:6).
Should Christians visit the Doctors?
It is very upsetting that some preachers are telling Christians that they should not go to the doctor because that is “lack of faith”. Even Jesus himself declared that the medical doctors existed for the sick. (Mat. 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:13). Apostle Paul himself had a medical doctor in his missionary staff (Col. 4:14). Is very sad but many have lost dear ones because they have listened to preachers who tell them that they should not visit the doctor or that they should stop taking medication when they are sick.
The Apostle Paul would not have agreed with the preaching of today’s evangelists and “divine healers”. He himself gave Timothy a prescription (probably under the recommendation of Dr. Luke) because of his "frequent sicknesses". (1 Tim. 5:23) Yet some oppose the idea of taking medications for sickness because according to them that is lack of faith that God does not approve of.
To suppose that the people in the Old Testament did not go to the medical doctors but only received “miraculous divine healing” is without biblical support. God himself takes an imagery of a doctor or surgeon taking care of his patients by using ointments such as balm and applied it to spiritual realities (Jer. 8:22; Prov. 3:8; 17:22). Even in the times of Jesus we can see that medical doctors were part of the Israelite culture. (Mr. 5:26) and Jesus used the same form of symbolism to apply it to spiritual truths. (Mat. 9:12; Mr. 2:17; Lu. 5:31). During the days of Asa, king of Israel there is a mention of medical doctors (2 Cr. 16:12). There is nothing wrong with visiting a medical doctor when we are sick, but it is very wrong to put our “trust” in the doctors alone as the final answer to our sickness and not trust God who gives knowledge to the doctor. That was King Asa’s sin precisely and the reason why God rejected him and he died.
The use of medication is not necessarily 'foreign' to God's workings with man's sickness. Certain 'ointments' can and often are used as means by God. Take for example the case of king Hezekiah of Israel. The Bible says that he became sick of death (1 Kings 20); prophet Isaiah told him to get his house ready since he was to die. After crying before the Lord, he was granted 15 additional years of life. Isaiah came back to give him the news:
2 Kings 20:4-6
And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 5 Turn again, and tell, Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father,1 I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen, years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand, of the king of Assyria; and I will defend, this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
Clearly, God said that he would heal the King for the sake of David, his father, YET something strange happened. The healing although performed by God, was mediated by some natural means:
2 Kings 20:7
And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
Some people erroneously think that verbally binding Satan will prevent them from getting sick. The whole idea is ludicrous especially when this ‘binders’ claim to have bound Satan time after time – some, like the preacher mentioned above, claim to have bound Satan countless times. Obviously something is not right with their binding of Satan against sickness and diseases when thousands of Christians are constantly binding Satan and he is always lose and in need to be bound again and again and again. Shouldn't they try a new tactic and bind the one who is losing Satan? They misinterpret a passage from the gospels (Matthew 12:29) where CHRIST is demonstrating that the promised Kingdom long awaited of Israel had arrived. According to Jesus, the Kingdom had to do with spiritual conquest of Satan’s goods (people) by binding (limiting) his power to rule over them by deception and spiritual control. Jesus leaves it very clear that the binding of Satan in this respect took place 2000 years ago and that is why the kingdom of Christ (the Church) is extending over the face of the earth (cf. Matt. 28:18). But today’s healers and “spiritual warfare Christians” claim that the passage is talking about every instance of sickness performed in a person. According to them demonic spirits cause all sicknesses. Therefore they perform exorcism on themselves by “binding Satan” and “casting out” the spirit of whatever sickness they may have. A headache, a fever, or a stomachache are Satanic or demonic spirits that need to be bound and cast out of the body for healing to come.
The Bible mentions some cases of people who were made sick by demons (Luke 13:11) but we also note that these events took place before the cross where Satan was defeated (Col. 2:12-14; Heb. 2:14) and they were not Christians indwelled by the overcoming power of the Holy Spirit as it started to happen after the day of Pentecost. The very reason why Jesus came was to “liberate his people” (Luke 4:18) from the power of darkness and to translate them into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13), when that happened people are said to be “saved”, if the devil is still roaming free in someone’s body, then salvation has not occurred and he or she is NOT a Christian in the strictest sense of the word.
Furthermore, sickness is not always produced by demons. Sickness (even if produced by Satan or demons) may be even part of God's plans and working with men. In reality we may not know how exactly that is, but that is precisely what the Bible teaches. We all know the story of Job, a righteous man more than any other man on earth according to God Himself. But God allowed Satan to destroy not only Job's possession but also his health to the point of desperation. Job wanted to die. It was a horrible situation and was caused by God (Job 2:3). Consider the following story; Moses was called by God to deliver the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. Moses was taking care of his father in law’s sheep when Jehovah God appeared to him in a burning bush and told him that he was to go before pharaoh and tell him to let His people go. Moses replied that he could not speak because he stuttered. Surprisingly God’s answer to Moses was not, “Oh, that’s no problem, I will heal you right now and you would just go and do what I told you without any difficulty”. Not at all, God told Moses that his stuttering was not a problem, that him (God), NOT Satan creates sick people:
10 Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” 13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Lemvite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.
So, as we can see, Moses was a man with a sickness and God did not heal him, in fact he was told that God himself created him like that. Yet he was a believer in God, probably more so than anyone of us.
The Truth Of The Gospel
Obviously the truth of the Gospel message is a lot more different than what some want to makes us believe. The promise made to “those of you who believe” in Mark 16:9ss to “casting out demos, and lay hands on the sick so they could be ‘miraculously’ healed” was given to the “unbelieving” Apostles of Jesus after the resurrection. The promise was made very specific to them and to them it was fulfilled to them just as Jesus said it would happen. The reason for this was that the eleven disciples of Christ did not believe the message about the resurrection of Christ (Mark 16:11, 13), but when Jesus came to see them he rebuke their unbelief (Mark 16:14) and admonish them to believe in Him and to go preach the gospel. If they would believe the “signs would follow them who believe” (Mark 16:17) and so it happened just like Jesus said it would because they started believing the words of Christ:
Mark 16 (YLT)
15and he said to them, `Having gone to all the world, proclaim the good news to all the creation; 16he who hath believed, and hath been baptized, shall be saved; and he who hath not believed, shall be condemned. 17`And signs shall accompany those believing these things; in my name demons they shall cast out; with new tongues they shall speak; 18 serpents they shall take up; and if any deadly thing they may drink, it shall not hurt them; on the ailing they shall lay hands, and they shall be well.'
Every one of the signs mentioned by Jesus was literally fulfilled in the ministries of the Apostles because although before they did not believe, NOW they were “believing”. So the Bible continues:
20 and they, having gone forth, did preach everywhere, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word, through the signs following. Amen.
And “they” the apostles did what Jesus told them to do and the Lord confirmed the word of the Gospel, through the signs following. The signs followed them as a “sign of believing apostles”. The apostolic age was filled with miraculous signs and wonders that started ceasing as time went by the church was established firmly and the apostles died. This does not mean that the signs abruptly disappear but they diminished greatly for their purpose for the most part had being fulfilled.
Even though healing was a very big part of the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles, nowhere in Scripture does it say that perfect health is the promise to each and every Christian in this age. We see biblical examples that show us the apostles exercising an almost unstoppable power to heal the physically sick. Paul was one of them, he would place his hands on sick people and they would become healed immediately. On one occasion he was even bitten by a venomous snake and survived miraculously. On another occasion a young man fell from a second story house and died but Paul put his hands on him and he resurrected immediately. Peter had a similar experience with Dorcas (Acts. 9:36ss).
But we also notice that when Paul preached to the Galatians in his third missionary trip (ca. 53-57 AD) he was sick (Gal. 4:13-15); some of his fellow workers in the ministry also got terribly sick: Epaphroditus was near death (Phil. 2:25); Trophimus was left behind because he could not continue with Paul due to his sickness (2 Tim. 4:20) and Timothy., the pastor at Ephesus, a man of true faith himself (2 Tim. 1:5) was said to have frequent sicknesses (1 Tim. 5:23). I once heard a preacher say that Paul was running a hospital. How is it possible that with all of these people sick and Paul himself being sick, none of the techniques used by today’s healers were used? Satan was not bound, demons were not cast out for healing to occur, no “lack of faith” was cited as a reason for healing not to come, and what is more intriguing not even a miraculous laying of hands was done to get all these people and Paul himself to be whole again. The only hint that we have about what was done was “prayer”. Paul mentions that God had mercy on Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25) probably because of the prayers of the Christian brethren who were saddened with the news of his sickness.
· By His stripes?
A verse often quoted to “promote” the unconditional physical healing of our corrupting bodies is 1 Peter 2:24, but the verse is not taken in its full context.
1 Peter 2
[Jesus] 24who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
The verse is primarily referring to ‘spiritual’ healing, not physical healing. By intentionally or unintentionally confusing the focus of the passage, the real meaning of it is lost. Sin is often compared in the Bible with ‘sickness’ and that is what Peter is referring to in this passage that he has quoted from the Old Testament prophecy about a Savior who would take away the sins of the people:
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
It is no surprise to see Jesus ‘healing’ people as a picture of the spiritual reality of the work He came to accomplish. Christ came to deal with the issue of sin from the root. The same way that sometimes separation from God is spoken of as being “dead” it is not surprising to us to see Jesus in front of Lazarus tomb and talking to a ‘DEAD’ man telling him to come out of his deadness. Christ was typifying the work of salvation performed by the power of the gospel whereby souls that are dead in sins and trespasses receive life to come out from the darkness of Satan's power into the light of Christ – That is healing and liberation in the Biblical sense!
So, when Peter quotes Isaiah he is referring to spiritual healing that comes through the work of Christ on the cross. He was bruised for our “iniquities” and by those “stripes/ bruises” we are healed of those iniquities. No real Scriptural basis exist to apply this portion to physical healing as many do in our day and time. However, physical healing of our bodies is promised in the Bible but we will see in a moment.
· God Does not change
Another Bible verse very often used by those who promote continued healings as those done in the time of Jesus and the Apostles, cite as proof that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrew 14:8) and since God the Father and Christ “do not change” then that’s enough proof that the quantity and quality of miracles performed in the past should still be taking place today. The truth is that that verse does NOT prove that apostolic type miracles continue today and it does not prove that they have ceased either. Why? Because the verse has nothing to do with that, that verse has to do with the character of God as an unchanging being who is wholly perfect and immutable in every aspect. That verse has nothing to do with doing miracles or not doing miracles. The fact that God was powerful enough to do miracles in the past and is powerful enough to do miracles today because of his unchanging nature does not mean that He will do miracles today as He did in the past. It is very basic understanding of Scripture that even though God Himself does not change, He DOES change in the way he deals with mankind throughout the times and places. God did not deal with Abraham and Sarah in the same way He used to dealt with Adam and Eve. He did not deal with Jacob in the same way He dealt with King David. He did not deal with the Hebrews in Egypt in the same way he dealt with other nations in the region including Egypt. He did NOT deal with the Old Testament people of Israel in the same way He deals with the Church today. In fact, change in the way God deals with people throughout time is evident in the Bible as we see that God spoke to Moses face to face but spoke to the priests and kings of Israel through the Urim and Tumin (Exodus 28:30; Ezra 2:63).
· Has God promised us perfect physical Healing?
The short answer to this question is ‘YES’. The longer answer is not so simple so let us look into it carefully. First, we are required to look at the “when”, “how” and “where” of the perfect physical healing promised to us in Scripture. While we are living in a body of corruption in a world of corruption we cannot expect the full promise of healing to take place.
The Bible is very clear that the total, complete and irreversible healing of our bodies will take place when Christ returns. The Bible says, “We will be just like He is”:
1 John 3:2
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
To expect perfect continuous health at this time in this world is simply fruitless. Sickness, disease, and corruption are around us and IN us. According to Scripture our flesh, our body is a body of corruption.
So, the answer to this first question: When? “When we become like Him” and that will only take place at His second coming!
The Bible tells us that the way to overcome disease, sickness, death and the physical corruption of our bodies is through the resurrection from the death. Our physical body, says Paul, “is perishing” through afflictions, persecutions, disease, aging and finally death:
2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
1 Corinthians 15
40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
While we are in our natural bodies, the promise of healing cannot be fulfilled. God has prepared for us a new house that we will receive at the moment of our resurrection. At that time we will enjoy the fullness of the blessings that Christ has acquired for us.
Through the work of the cross Christ purchased our full redemption, “sprit/soul and body”. First, when we came to Christ our souls were redeemed and given a new birth of incorruptible seed of eternal life but our bodies have not yet being redeemed. The Bible states that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit from the moment of our conversion until the day of redemption. In the letter to the Romans it speaks of the 'future' yet very certain redemption of our bodies:
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
So, the answer to this question: How? By the resurrection of our bodies! When we shall be clothed with an incorruptible spiritual body not subject to decay, sin, sickness, aging, death and corruption.
Not only is our present body weak and full of the consequences of sin and corruption through diseases, illness, aging and death; this present world is also in the same condition. Here we suffer, here we cry and feel pain. But the Bible states that there is a place where we will enjoy eternal bliss with no more crying, no more sorrow, no more death and no more sickness, the new creation that God has prepared for us:
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
As long as we are in this side of history, death, sorrow, pain and crying will be present in one way or another. But when we get to the new heaven and new earth, O God what a blessing! THERE will be no crying, no sorrow, no pain and no death. All things will be perfected and then will the promised made to us will be totally and perfectly fulfilled because all the former things would have passed away. Many emphasize so much this side of time that they forget that some promises are for now but some are for later. On this side sickness will be present in our bodies in one way or another, sorrow, pain and suffering will make itself evident in different manners BUT when we get to see God face to face then there will be eternal joy, health and life At last!
So the answer to this question: Where? In the New heaven and the new earth, when all things have been made new.
Should we pray for healing?
Absolutely! Yes we should pray but not over false pretenses and manipulation of Scriptures, not by claiming to have received a special message from God in respect to sickness. No one should conclude that we should "enjoy" sickness and desire to be sick as if that were fun and games. We (I), just like every normal human being dislike being sick. I do not rejoice in sickness (for the sake of just being sick) any more than you do - sickness brings suffering, discomfort and pain and no one I know of enjoys that. But we should NOT be anxious:
Phil 4:6- 7
for nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer, and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God, that is surpassing all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
We, as Paul did, should pray for healing of our bodies whenever we can and as much as we can. We can also pray for others and have others pray for us. The Bible states that we should call on the elders of the Church if we are sick. (James 5:14-15). But we should understand that because we live in a fallen world and have fallen bodies, sickness would always be around us and sometimes ‘in’ us. We may receive healing by the mercy of God or we may hear the voice of God speaking to our hearts saying, “Let my grace be enough to you”. God may or may not heal our pain now, but for sure he WILL heal it later. In the meantime He may choose to give us grace to overcome the difficulties of this life.
We are not by any means denying God's power to heal us from our infirmities and illnesses. We can pray with confidence that God is powerful over sickness and disease and even if we go to the doctor, which does not mean that we don’t believe in God, we should trust in God who has given the doctors the necessary knowledge to deal with our bodies and He may even work his healing in our body through them. In every instance we should give the glory and honor to God for our spiritual and our physical healing. Of course, we also know from the Scriptures and from human experience that not everyone gets healing from their sicknesses - some times not when they wanted it and other times never at all.
Will God 'always' heal us?
Dr. Roger Smalling in an article that makes reference to the topic of divine healing and the wrong teachings of the Word of Faith movement makes the following comment:
Word of Faith teachers generally emphasize that Jesus healed all who came to him in faith. They quote texts such as Matthew 4:24. ...and they brought unto him all sick people ... and he healed them. They then emphasize that Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever (Hebrew 13:8.) From this they assume Jesus always heals those who pray in faith today also.
Some are surprised to learn that Jesus did not always heal those who came to Him. To prevent us from thinking he was under an obligation to do so, he left us this example in Luke 5:15-16.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (NIV)
In the King James, verse 16 starts with the word "and.” The NIV correctly translates the Greek word "DE" as "but.” This word is a conjunction of contrast. It means Jesus did not do what was expected of him in verse 15, which was to preach to the crowds and heal their sick. Instead, he kept withdrawing for prayer.
Jesus apparently wanted to teach His disciples that communion with the Father was more Important than the ministry, however glorious that was. Therefore, as an unusual exception, he refused to heal a crowd of people.
We must also consider the factor of Divine Election in healing. Christians disagree as to what it entails. But we have an example of it in John 5:1-5, which relates the healing of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda.
Jesus was not attracted to the faith of this invalid because the man had none. He was ignorant of the identity of Jesus before and after his healing. This miracle was detached from faith, and related only to the sovereign will of God.
The ninth verse clarifies that he was healed while on his bed. This exhibited no more faith than any others present.
It would be futile to ask why Jesus chose this man and not another. The lesson in the incident would be defeated by such questions. Sovereign election in healing is in operation here, so the question is therefore unanswerable. God is uninterested in fitting it into our neat systems of logic, religious opinions or feelings about what is fair.
What could be some of the reasons for physical sickness?
There are several reasons why we may be getting sick:
(1) Perhaps the main reason we get sick is because God wants us to get closer to him in prayer. Have you not noticed that we pray more when things are not good or when sickness is closer? (Psal. 34:4)
(2) God may be working out his parental right to chastise us as His children because of sin or disobedience. (1 Cor. 11; Hebrew 12).
(3) Can our own disobedience have an impact on our children's health? Although not in every case (Jn. 9:3), the Bible seems to indicate so; King David's child got sick and died because of David's sin ( 2 Samuel 2:13-15)
(4) Maybe God wants to glorify Himself through healing. (Ps. 103:3; Jn. 9:3)
(5) Or may be God is trying our faith so we know how much we trust Him (James 5:14-15)
(6) It could be God's way to keep us humble (2 Cor. 12:9)
I once heard a preacher say that "it was not God’s will for anyone to be sick because God does not glorify himself through sickness and that He cannot use our bodies if we are sick." That sounded totally blasphemous to my ears. Is true that being sick is not a pleasant experience. Being sick with fever, a cold, a persistent stomach flu or a 'simple' headache can make us feel miserable and stop us in our track; I've been there. However, the truth is God can do anything he wants and He does (Psalm 115:3). Even using sickness as a blessing or to accomplish His purposes not only to the sick person but also to others as well. God used Job's sickness to shut the devil's (and Job's friend's) mouth. Sickness has not always being a bad thing. God uses sickness providentially to bring people to Him, to humble the proud, strengthen the weak and to correct the disobedient. Let us therefore whether in sickness or in health give glory to God and know that He is in control of all things and if we are His children we know that “God works together all things whether good or bad for the good of those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28).
Copyright ©1999-2009 Jorge L. Trujillo
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Written: March 16, 2007