April 5, 2009

Should Christians get Sick?

The New Testament is full of verses that say when Jesus died on the cross, it was to take upon Himself the wrath of God for our sins. He died that we might live forever. This is a clear teaching. His death is our substitute. Because of it, God can forgive and cleanse sin in the lives of those who put their faith in Jesus.

Occasionally I meet someone who claims that there is also physical healing in the atonement. They use the following passage to back up their claim, and say if Christians would only believe this, we would never get sick.
(Jesus) who 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. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)
From my own study on this, I’ve asked the following questions. First, if Jesus also bore our sickness, why was He not sick? Why didn’t He die of heart disease or cancer or something that shows this is what He was doing?

Second, if this is what this verse means, why is the entire context around it talking about sin? Also, why are there no other verses that say Christians should never experience sickness? Rather, it seems that God can use sickness. Granted, sometimes it is for chastening His wayward children, but sometimes He uses it to show His sustaining power and even His healing power.

I also wondered how God would take many of us home to heaven if we never became ill. Would we have to experience violence or accidents to get from this life to the next? Depending on how illness is defined, even dying in one’s sleep involves some sort of bodily failure.

As I think about dying and the next life, I know in heaven I will experience perfection. I will not sin ever again, nor will I ever be sick. This is God’s promise. With that, I have come to this conclusion; yes, there is healing in the atonement — I am healed from the penalty of sin because the great work of Christ on the cross secured that for me.

He also gave me the power to overcome sin in this life. I will not succeed totally, but one day I will be sinless as He is. That is the power of His sacrifice for me.

As for sickness, I believe there is a similar thing happening. One day I will be totally free of all ailments, including the aches and pains of aging, but in this life that will not happen. I can take good care of myself and ask for healing when I am sick, but these bodies are not made to last forever. For that, I need a new body and I will not get it until I die, perhaps from sickness.

I’ve wondered why those who claim there is healing in the atonement are often sick. I also wonder why, if is true that complete healing is for this life, why not claim it for sin also? Sickness has the potential to draw me closer to God, but sin always pushes me away. For that reason, being free from sin seems even more desirable than being free from coughs and colds or worse.

The marvel of these verses from 1 Peter is that Jesus bore my sins so that I can die to sin and live for righteousness. I’ve seen amazing miracles in the realm of physical healing, but they do not compare with God healing someone from a life of sin. Physical healing is temporary; everyone eventually dies physically because our bodies are deteriorating, but spiritual healing lasts forever.

This is why death to sin is so fantastic. When someone trusts Jesus Christ and dies to sin, God produces spiritual healing and new life, a new life that is being transformed into the likeness of Christ, a new life that will never die.

In this life, we have trouble. The world is filled with challenges, and because of sin, it is also full of sickness and death. Jesus overcomes the world and offers me perfection someday in a new one. Until then, I must tackle, in faith, whatever comes along. When I pray about my challenges, He might take them away (including sickness), or He might give me grace to face and experience tough times, including sickness. Either way, my goal is to not sin and totally trust Him.


Hobbs said...

Wow interesting posting there..Was just discussing this issue with my Pastor..Can not comment meaningfully yet but would like to research more and pray more and not just give a personal opinion..thanks

Anonymous said...

I was talking with a good friend last night and asked him to pray for me because I have been having a problem with short term memory. He said that because I was saying I had memory problems I was the cause of them.
He then quoted Proverbs 18:21 which says "Death and life are in the hand of the tongue, and those who love it shall eat its fruit." I told him that this is not about physical illnesses but relationships with others as in James. My questions to him and others then is why the Apostles did not teach about the tongue being a creative force and why were some of the sick if they did? I guess they did not have enough "faith". My faith is in God's ability to heal me of my memory problem and not that I have the faith to say it does not exits and "poof" it is gone. (James 5:14-15)

James said " Is any among you sick? Let him call the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save those being sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he may have committed sin, it will be forgiven him."

Philippians 2:25-28 But I thought it needful to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker, and my fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister of my need, 26 since he was longing for you all and has been troubled because you heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick, coming near to death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him, but also me, lest I should have grief on grief. 28 Therefore, I sent him more eagerly, that seeing him again you may rejoice, and I may be less grieved.

2nd Corinthians 12:6-7 For if I desire to boast, I will not be foolish, for I speak the truth. But I spare, lest anyone reckons me to be beyond what he sees me or hears anything of me. 7 And by the superabundance of the revelations, that I not be made arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet me, that I not be made haughty.

1st Timothy 5:23 No longer drink water, but use a little wine on account of your stomach and your frequent infirmities.

2nd Timothy 4:20 Erastus remained in Corinth, but I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.

Brother Rock
Alethes Ministry to the World

LC said...

I've posted the second comment because it adds to today's thoughts in a positive and helpful way. However, I normally will not post comments with links to other sites and do not intend to promote or endorse them.