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Confessing our sin, receiving forgiveness by the blood of Christ Jesus, and knowing our new true identity in Christ enable us to grow to maturity from glory to glory. Our (already crucified!) sin nature by definition rebels against our Lord and is deceived; we are to put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3) because it is both deceived and deceitful.
No one is good – except God alone. (Luke 18:19b). This is why God’s description of disease as a consequence of sin has been addressed in some detail in the preceding parts of this study before addressing the exceptions other than Job. What remains of our sinful nature will naturally assume that OUR disease is not a consequence of sin, for that nature is deceived (it is self-righteous, not realizing it needs Christ, the only Righteous One). We must be self-controlled and alert (1 Peter 4:8) as we proceed now with the NT exceptions to God’s word that disease is a consequence of sin.
As given in Part 5, James 5:16 is the key verse in the NT regarding healing and the eradication of disease; now we’ll look at verses 14 and 15 as they lead up to verse 16: Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other…. That word “if” in verse 15b indicates the sickness is not necessarily a consequence of the sick person’s sin. Note that Therefore confess your sins to each other is not a conditional statement reserved only for those whose sicknesses are due to their personal sin
The one clear NT case of disease not secondary to sin is the man born blind from Part 1 of our study in the Gospel of John. The story of Jesus healing the man born blind in chapter 9 illustrates Israel’s spiritual blindness and God’s judgment on those who claim to see but don’t (e.g. the Pharisees, who did not recognize the Messiah before them). His disciples asked Jesus what we now, having studied God’s OT word on the cause of disease, see was a logical scripturally-based question: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus responded, Neither… but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life…. I am the light of the world. Jesus healed the man in a most unconventional way, and he, in turn, testified to the spiritually blind Pharisees, I was blind, but now I see. (John 9:1-3, 5b, 25).
Another story told only in the Gospel of John that might be an exception is that of Lazarus in chapter 11. When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick, Jesus said This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. (v. 4). Note that Jesus did not say that Lazarus had not sinned – that would be incongruous with 1John 1:8 and Romans 3:9-10. Regardless of whether or not his sickness was due to his sin, God worked Lazarus’ sickness and death for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28). This is a very important and comforting truth for us (and our believing loved ones) as we suffer and testify of God’s glory in our afflictions as our righteous brother Job did. We recall this principle was also exemplified through the apostle Paul’s sufferings, including his illness in Galatians 4:13-14. Praise God, His glorious promise to us of Romans 8:28 partially quoted above begins, And we know that in ALL things God works for the good (emphasis added).
Back to what God did with Lazarus’ affliction. We note that Jesus waited two more days for Lazarus to die before leaving for Bethany, and then arrived four days after Lazarus had been entombed so that the stench of death would be evident (vv. 6, 17, 39). The Lord then raised Lazarus from the dead in order that (1) his beloved servant Martha would see the glory of God with her eyes of faith, and (2) the other witnesses who did not yet know Him to the extent that Martha did would believe that He had been sent by God (vv. 40, 42).
Now, we are Martha here, about to witness the glory of God. Recall our Father’s promise: If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep His covenant of love with you…. The Lord will keep you free from every disease. (Deuteronomy 7:12,15a). Behold the resurrected Christ: He is not only our Obedience, our Healing, and our Health – He is our Health Insurance!
The Light of the world is lovingly exposing something here: the spiritual condition of the Church has been rather blind and lame, not unlike how Israel was at the time of Christ’s first coming. Thankfully, the Lord who heals us is presently restoring our sight AND our walk. He raises us above our deception, and we find ourselves no longer needing the crutches of health insurance and the worldly healthcare system! No, praise God, for He is transforming us by washing with water through the word (Ephesians 5:26) and we are apprehending the risen Lord Himself within our spirits more fully! He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, and our God will meet all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3b; Philippians 4:19). Hallelujah! May we humbly yield to Him and receive the free gift of grace!
This leads us to the glorious revelation Jesus gave to the seasoned apostle Paul after he prayed three times for the Lord to remove an irritating “thorn” in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness (v. 9). Now, there are some pearls about this situation of Paul’s. First, note that Paul also called the irritant a messenger of Satan (see v. 7, next paragraph); a messenger is a person, not a thing or a sickness, as many commentators have inaccurately assumed. Paul likely was remembering a phrase from King David’s last words, But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns (2 Samuel 23:6). Correspondingly, the Greek words here addressing the “thorn” as “it” apparently involve a male pronoun (forgive me, but I do not recall my source, other that knowing it was from a Greek scholar and through the Lord!). Another pearl is that “flesh” in the Greek here is a word with a wide range of meanings, including these two: “the lower and temporary element in the Christian” or “the outward and seeming,” as contrasted with the spirit, the inward and real [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson, Inc.,1996, p. 242]. Lastly, and importantly, the Greek word used for “weakness” (astheneo) in verse 10 describes “a person who feels weak, distressed” and not “physical ailments” (which would be the word asthenes) [Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Teach All Nations, 2003, p. 856].
With this insight now, let’s behold anew this powerful passage of Scripture: To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
The Lord did not affirmatively answer Paul’s three prayers to remove this person that Paul’s natural self found irritating because his words and actions to Paul were beneficial to the sovereign Lord’s purpose, building up Paul’s new true self in Christ. This so-called messenger of Satan was instrumental in causing Paul to boast in his depravity, and also led him to welcome the repetitive breaking down of the “outward and seeming” part that makes way for Christ’s strength to increase in the “inward and real” spirit. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds… so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2,4b). What we perceive as “messengers of Satan,” conflicts, or trials are designed and brought by God to break down what remains of our sinful nature, just as He did with Job. Sufferings purify us in large part by destroying self-reliance and self-righteousness. …the hardships we suffered… happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2Corinthians 1:8,9b).
This is the breaking down part of the sanctification process, and our “outward and seeming” part, our remaining sinful nature, always finds it irritating, for it is death to self. Let us encourage one another to take heart and rejoice as Paul and James did every time the Lord brings people or circumstances that we find irritating or insulting, for the sovereign Lord is using them as an instrument to remove that which remains in us that is not His Son. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:11). After the suffering of his soul he will see the light of life and be satisfied. (Isaiah 53:11a).
Praise God for enabling us to die to our sinful nature through the hell-shattering death of our Savior! We who deserve punishment and death HAVE been crucified with Christ, and sin and death no longer have dominion over us because we are dead and have been united with Christ in His resurrection (Romans 6)! We have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord right now, and praise God, He enables us to walk it out every moment in accordance with His Spirit (Romans 8:1-17). He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5). Oh, this is so very, very rich! May the Holy Spirit reveal the fullness of these words of reconciliation and healing as we open our Bibles and savor these Scriptures under His tutelage, mining their riches…
Let us not overlook the words “our” and “we” in Isaiah 53:5 – He was crushed for our iniquities… by his wounds we are healed (emphasis added). There is more to Christ’s healing for us than our personal diseases stemming from our personal sins, and this point is of tremendous significance: as we corporately confess our generational sins which have been passed on to us and which we have passed on to the fruit of our womb (Deuteronomy 28:15,18), we should receive healing of our and our children’s genetically-inherited diseases, restoration of our and their chromosomal aberrations and congenital anomalies (“birth defects”), and their pediatric diseases.
Praise God for raising us above our deceit so that we apprehend His truth and walk it out supernaturally by faith in sufficiency of the blood of Jesus. By the grace of God, we shall know no condemnation, yet be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and permit Him to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). We shall rejoice in His forgiveness, and God shall be glorified as unbelievers see Jesus manifested in our flesh as never before, the Body of Christ come to maturity, attaining to the whole measure of His fullness (Ephesians 4:13-14).
Praise God for His word: Jesus Christ IS our Healing, our Health, and our Health Insurance. As we know God’s word, believe it, and apprehend it in accordance with the Spirit, our dis-eases are healed, eradicated, and prevented – not merely managed or treated by modern medicine, but removed as far as the east is from the west! We repent of our sins, receive His forgiveness, thank Him, pick up our mats, and rejoice, just as the paralytics did. The Body of Christ not only hears His word, but we corporately heed His call to stretch out our shriveled hand, and we believe the full restoration will come despite all appearances to the contrary, for He has commanded it!
If we believe, we WILL see the glory of God… and we WILL preach the gospel and heal the sick… and it will be plain to see that what is done is not done by men, but is done through God (John 11:40; Luke 9:2; John 3:21). To Him be all the praise and honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen.
Bless you, and let us BE healed!
With love, proclaiming that Jesus Christ is our Healer, Health, and our Health Insurance, your sister deanna
link to Part VII