Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith


Chapter Twenty Nine


And these signs shall follow them that believe;
In my name they shall ... lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover
(Mark 16:17a,18b)


The problem some Christians have with believing in God's power to heal today is that not all who are prayed for are healed.  We can ask, "Does God always heal?", and the answer is clearly "No."  In the New Testament some were healed while others weren't.  We are told that Jesus healed all who were brought to Him: for example, the man born blind was healed [1], so was the leper restored to health [2], and the woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years [3].  God healed many sick folk through the apostles [4]: Peter and John for example were used mightily by God to restore the legs of a man in his forties who had been crippled from birth [5], to heal a man of the palsy [6], and even to raise a lady named Dorcas from the dead [7].  Yet not all were healed.  The apostle Paul, himself used by God to bring healing to others, was not delivered of his own "thorn in the flesh" [8], and Timothy had a possible chronic stomach weakness [9].

In the 1960s in a church in South London, I was due to participate in a service when I damaged my ribs and was in considerable pain.  The service was to start in two hours time, but I felt I couldn't pray for others when I was myself in pain.  I cried out to the Lord for help, and on that occasion He healed my ribs instantly.  In the following decades I have prayed for many folk to be healed, and though many have been blessed, not all have been healed.  When God does heal, it goes without saying that all the glory must be given to Him alone, not to any man, who at most is only the channel through whom God brings healing.

The subject of God's healing is, therefore, a difficult one, which can cause divisions between those who think God always heals providing the person has faith to believe, and those who feel God only heals from time to time according to His holy will for the sick person.  What we can say is that it is God's will to give us spiritual wholeness and holiness, and it is His plan to prepare all Christians for eternity with Him, and if physical healing is necessary to that preparation, then He will heal us.  If a person wants healing in order to return to a godless or worldly life, then, in most cases, nothing will happen because God can see the wrong motives of that person's heart.  Healing would only lead them away from God, not nearer to Him.  He is the same God today as He was yesterday; He never changes [10], so He does heal today as He did in Biblical times, but we have to accept not always.  God's primary purpose for us, even when we are ill, is to sanctify us and use us to help build His Kingdom.  If we are walking closely with God and know we are being obedient to Him yet He still chooses not to heal us physically in this life we may not fully know the reason why until we go to be with Him.  But we do know that He is always in control and as Paul pointed out in his letter to the Romans, "we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Having said all that, there are things that can cause illness or hinder healing if we become unwell.  Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we should look after them both spiritually and physically.  If we break the laws of normal healthy living then our bodies are bound to suffer sooner or later.  If we have little time to rest and relax then we are probably doing more than God wants us to do.  If we don't get enough sleep our bodies won't 'recharge' sufficiently to function effectively, or if we eat 'junk' food our bodies will weaken for lack of nutrition.  If we smoke, or drink too much, take drugs, or are sexually licentious than we can expect our bodies to rebel as they were not made for these things.  It goes without saying that a weakened body is one that is open to disease.

Sometimes God may allow someone to be laid low for a while in order to free them from a busy lifestyle that they may have time aside with Him.  Perhaps He has been trying for a long time to show them something in their life that needs changing, or He has an important word for them to hear and understand, or perhaps He wants them to deepen their prayer life, or concentrate on some work for His Kingdom which they couldn't do if they were physically active and pursuing their normal concerns.

Wilful sin or disobedience may also result in sickness and even early death.  God loves us, but we are not free to live as we please.  In the Old Testament, King David learnt the hard way that deliberate sin has serious consequences [11], while in the New Testament, some of the Christians who were taking the bread and wine "unworthily" were falling sick and even dying [12], and the deliberate lie told by Ananias and Sapphira resulted in their sudden deaths [13].

Hardness of heart, resentment, bitterness, and hatred have caused many folk down the ages to suffer from physical illness.  Our bodies were not designed to harbour such wrong feelings, and God warns us against such destructive attitudes in His Word [14].  Sometimes healing may come almost unexpectedly, such as when someone who has had an unforgiving heart towards another, learns to forgive the wrong done to them.  We know that if we refuse to forgive someone who sins against us we shut off our beings from God's blessings toward us and He cannot forgive us our sins, but when we do forgive another then God's loving blessings can begin to flow into our lives again, and can overflow into our physical wellbeing too.

The point must be made here that we are never to seek healing from a source other than God.  Many so-called healings from occult or other evil sources - for example, spiritualist meetings - do far more harm than good to a person's physical, emotional, and spiritual health in the long run, as do a lot of New Age therapies and remedies.  Satan isn't called an "angel of light" for nothing; he is more than capable of lifting an illness or disease from someone (especially if it were he who put it upon them in the first place) if it will bind that person's inner being to himself.  Jesus is the only Healer.  He can still heal us physically today as He did when He walked this earth, but the greater miracle is the spiritual healing He offers us if we come to Him for salvation from our sins.

And of course, we need to remember that as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden the whole of creation is subject to "the bondage of corruption" [15], so whether we like it or not our bodies will weaken and deteriorate and eventually die, until the time comes for the Lord to return and change our corruptible bodies into incorruptible [16].  Praise the Lord!



[1]   Mark 8:22-25.          [2]  Matthew 8:2-3.          [3]  Matthew 9:20-22.          [4]  Acts 5:12-16.          [5]  Acts 3:1-10.          [6]  Acts 9:32-34.          [7]  Acts 9:36-41.          [8]  2 Corinthians 12:5-9.          [9]  1 Timothy 5:23.          [10]  Malachi 3:6a;  Hebrews 13:8.          [11]  2 Samuel 12:15-23.          [12]  1 Corinthians 11:27-30.          [13]  Acts 5:1-11.          [14]  Hebrews 12:12-17;  1 John 2:9-11.          [15]  Romans 8:21-23.          [16]  1 Corinthians 15:50-58.




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Michael Smith 2013