What the Bible Says About... | Divine Healing
"They brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." (Matthew 8:16-17)
The problem of sickness and disease is intertwined with the problems of sin and death, that is, the consequences of man's fall. Science and the medical fields view the causes of disease as physiological or psychosomatic, while the Bible presents two primary spiritual problems as the basic cause:
(a) Sin, which has affected our physical bodies and spiritual condition. James writes, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15)
(b) Satan, which afflicts and tempts humanity. The book of Acts states, "...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil."
God's provision in His redemptive plan for our healing is as extensive as the consequences of the fall. God has provided forgiveness for our sin, eternal life for death, and healing for sickness. During Jesus' earthly life, His threefold ministry was (a) teaching God's Word; (b) preaching repentance; and (c) healing all manner of illnesses and infirmities among the people. Isaiah prophecied of the Messiah, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).
God's desire and will concerning healing is revealed to us in Scripture in four ways:
1. God's own promise. In Exodus, God promised the people health and healing if they would remain faithful to His covenant and keep His laws. God stated, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee." (Exodus 15:26). David said of the Lord in his psalm, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." (Psalm 103:3).
2. The Ministry of Christ. Jesus came to do the Father's will and was "the image of the inivisible God", proving that it is the heart and nature of God to heal all who are sick or oppressed of Satan. He stated, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38; see also Colossians 1:15; 2:9). Matthew stated in his gospel, "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them." (Matthew 4:23-24).
3. Provision in Jesus' Atonement. Everything we need can be found at Calvary. Jesus' death on the Cross was complete for redeeming the whole person, spirit, soul and body. Satan's arsenal of sin and sickness have been countered by forgiveness and healing. Peter wrote in his first epistle concerning Jesus, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24).
4. The Ministry of the Church. Jesus commissioned His twelve disciples to heal the sick (Luke 9:1-6), and later commissioned the Seventy to do the same (Luke 10:1, 8-9, 19). The early church carried on Jesus' command to heal the sick in three ways: (a) the laying on of hands (Mark 16:15-18; Acts 9:17); (b) prayer, confession of sins, and anointing the sick with oil (James 5:14-16); and (c) through the spiritual gift of healing (1 Corinthians 12:9). James exhorts us in his book, "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:14-16).
Some Hindrances to Healing:
(a) Sin that has not been confessed (James 5:16);
(b) Unbelief or lack of faith (Matthew 13:58; Mark 9:19,23-24);
(c) Taking the Lord's Supper unworthily (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).
Sometimes there is no apparent reason that someone is sick and has not been healed. Many times illnesses come through improper decisions we've made throughout our lives; i.e., smoking could lead to lung cancer, drinking alcohol could lead to liver disease, and improper diet could lead to heart disease, etc. Other times we are struck with sicknesses for no apparent reason. In the book of John, the disciples asked Jesus concerning a blind man, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither... but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
If you the reader are suffering from an illness or disease and have been praying for healing, I urge you to not give up, but continue to pray and believe God. Make sure all sin has been confessed, and ask God to increase your faith. And also ask Him to help you learn from your experience so that you may help others who are going through the same trial (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).