When I posted How To Start Healing The Sick two weeks ago, I got two somewhat negative comments. After weighing the matter, I chose not to approve the second one because of the angry and disrespectful tone. Both comments reminded me of thinking I often encountered when I first started healing the sick, and have continued to encounter in certain circles.
The first of the comments basically said “We tried this for a long time and believed in it, and it didn’t work. It doesn’t always work and it’s not the sick person’s fault.”
The second comment was essentially “How dare you imply that people like Joni Eareckson Tada are less spiritual than you!”
Both of these comments boil down to the common question “If Jesus redeemed us from sickness, why are so many Christians sick?”
My first response to such comments is that scripture and the revelation of God through Christ must be our standard for truth, not feelings or negative experiences, or what anyone else believes. If our life experiences gave us a clear revelation of God’s will and nature, Jesus never would have had to come as a man. Last week I shared 13 Solid Scriptural Proofs Of God’s Will To Heal. Scripture is just as clear about God’s will to heal as it is about redemption from sin. This should be good news! Let’s look at why this truth seems painful to some people and why many conclude “It doesn’t work.”
You Are Being Saved
Scripture speaks of salvation as a past fact, a present reality, and a future hope. Without going into a lot of detail, here are two verses that speak of salvation as something that is happening now:
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
When you called on Jesus’ name, you were saved. You received a new heart and a new nature, and were forgiven of all your sins. So why does scripture also talk about “being saved?” We are “being saved” as the redemption which Jesus accomplished for us continues to bear fruit, and as we continue to apply it.
Most Christians will agree that scripture not only teaches God has delivered us from sin, but he has delivered us from the power of sin. The power of sin was the law. When we die to the law to live to Christ, we bear the fruit of righteousness because we have received the free gift of righteousness. This sanctification that occurs as we continue to hold to Christ’s righteousness is one aspect of “being saved.”
Do we ever ask “If Jesus’ dealt with our sins, why do so many Christians have sin in their lives?” Of course not! We understand that we must continue to apply Christ’s redemptive work to our lives. In fact, this is why we take communion.
When you turned to Jesus, did you immediately stop sinning and never sin again? You may have experienced some sinful habits just disappearing, never to torment you again. But I’m sure there were areas where you had to continue to apply Christ’s redemptive work. And there still are! This isn’t “getting saved again.” It’s just applying to your life that which Jesus has already done for you.
When I was born again I immediately stopped shoplifting. I had tried to stop this sinful habit before, yet was unable to. Then God opened the eyes of my heart and I was free in an instant. There was no longer any struggle to change, and I never went back to shoplifting again!
But what about other areas where I struggled with sin after that? Do we doubt that Jesus has really redeemed us from sin when we see some sin in the church? Do we deny the deliverance we have already experienced if we struggle with another area of sin? No! We understand that we must continue to apply Christ’s redemptive work to our lives. We don’t think for a moment that God is “waiting” to set us free from sin. We don’t say to a brother “God will set you free from pornography in his time.” Rather, we help our brother to apply what Jesus has already done.
Peace is another aspect of redemption. The punishment for our peace was upon Jesus. Do you remember the peace that flooded your soul when you met Christ? Yet do we always walk fully in that peace? If not, we understand that we need to continue to apply Christ’s redemption to our lives. We don’t say “God will give me peace in his time and not mine.” Rather, we apply truth to our lives.
Healing is the same. Yet many people question healing being part of Christ’s work because they see sick Christians. That’s like questioning if Jesus redeemed us from sin, because we see Christians who sin. Likewise, saying “God will heal, in his time” is like saying “God will forgive you, in his time.” He has already done it, and we need to apply his work by faith!
Why Are So Many Christians Sick?
What if we treated forgiveness as something that we could only hope God might will to grant us in his time? Christians would struggle even more with guilt and condemnation! What if the gospel we preached was “Turn to God, and he will forgive you in his time?” Psalm 103 tells us not to forget God’s benefits because we must apply them. As we saw last week, the first two benefits Psalm 103 names are that God forgives all our sins and heals our diseases. Communion reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice and reminds us of what we have because of Jesus’ blood.
Most Christians I know do not have the same assurance of God’s will for them to be free of disease as they do of God’s will for them to be free from sin. It’s no wonder they haven’t experienced much healing! But what about Christians who believe in God’s will to heal and yet have physical issues? Some people might mock me because I believe healing is always God’s will yet I wear contact lenses.
The fact is, I’ve been healed multiple times by God. I regularly see people healed as I minister to them. I have as much (or more) fruit to show for applying Christ’s redemption to the body as the fruit other Christians can show for applying God’s redemption to the spirit.
Do you know somebody who God delivered from an ugly past? What do you do if you hear them gossiping or you see them screw up? I’d hope that you’d remind them of the work that the Holy Spirit has already done in their life, and remind them that God started a good work in them and will be faithful to complete it! I hope that if you blow it in some way you remind yourself of what the Holy Spirit has done in your life. None of this negates the power of Christ’s sacrifice to set people free from sin, or causes us to question it. If we don’t apply that logic to deliverance from sin, why do we apply it to the deliverance of the body?
Don’t misunderstand me. By no means am I implying that all sickness is a result of a person’s personal sin. Jesus himself made it clear that’s not the case. I’m pointing out that we are growing in Christ and we must apply God’s redemption to our lives. If we don’t doubt Christ’s sacrifice for sin because there’s sin in the church, neither should we doubt his sacrifice for our healing.
This Isn’t About Condemnation! It’s Good News!
Unfortunately, some people have taking the doctrine of healing and used it to condemn and blame people for their sicknesses. Satan has used this to twist truth so that people perceive the good news of Christ’s redemption as something painful. Jesus never did that! He never said “I can’t heal you because you don’t have enough faith.” I will never do that, because I have no right to tell someone they couldn’t get healed because of their unbelief if I myself didn’t believe and get them healed regardless of their faith. In fact, I know it’s initially much easier for most people to minister healing to others than to have faith for themselves.
By the way, the “faith” I’m talking about is much more than a mental thing. It comes out of experience with Jesus, and we grow in it like everything else. I started to grow in this faith when I read the gospels and wept because I’d read them a hundred times before and missed the revelation of Jesus’ compassion. I started to grow in it when I saw others minister healing. This faith is seeing Jesus and having our attention fully captured by him. And I’m growing in faith, just as I’m growing in love and in every aspect of Christ’s nature.
When we get used to guilt and condemnation being heaped on us, they become like colored glasses through which we see everything. Our perception of what faith is gets twisted so it looks like another work that we must try to do but are never going to measure up anyways.
Teaching that healing is absolutely God’s will is no more condemnation than teaching that living a life without sin is God’s will. It’s the goal! Although we may not have experienced that 100% percent yet, what we have experienced is amazing! And we are going forward as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus and continue to apply his redemptive work to our lives.
I’ve encountered people who get really upset when I share about God’s will to heal, because they assume I will condemn them and blame them for not having enough faith. Yet I don’t even ask people to have faith when I minister to them. I take the responsibility of having faith for them.
Believing that healing is always God’s will doesn’t amount to bashing Joni Eareckson Tada for not being healed. It doesn’t amount to bashing anybody! I admire Joni’s joy, overcoming spirit, and ministry of compassion. Yet my standard of truth is Jesus, not Joni Eareckson Tada.
The idea that God’s will for some people is sickness or disability is harmful, not helpful. I particularly remember a lady I met who was suffering from severe Fibromyalgia pain. I didn’t know her condition, but she heard me talking to her friends about what God had done in my life. She had been riddled with guilt and condemnation, felt that her suffering was somehow her fault, but was convinced the pain was her “thorn in the flesh.”
As she heard me talking with her friends, she became convinced that her pain really wasn’t from God. She asked me to pray.
She felt nothing happening as I put my hand on her shoulder and rebuked the pain. But a month later I heard the news. She had been pain-free ever since! I have encountered too many others, like this lady, who were sick and suffering until they became convinced that their pain wasn’t from God. Can I compromise the truth that set these people free at the risk of offending someone?
I have some friends who are dealing with pain and physical issues. I never blame them. I minister to them, and if they are still dealing with issues, I will minister again. I have seen people totally healed of issues after ministering to them the first few times with no results. I persevere because I know who Jesus is. I know that if I ever started doubting God’s will to heal by looking at God through experience and circumstances instead of through Jesus, the miracles happening all around me would stop.
If anybody is still offended at me saying God’s will is always healing, I ask “Isn’t it much worse to tell people that pain and disease are God’s will for them?”