MPGC39- FROM SICKNESS TO HEALTH - PART 2
By Colleen Donahue
I have been a healthy person all my life so learning about healing has not been a topic of high priority to me. But during these studies I have come to see that healing is a part of our salvation that Christ died to give us. Just as we take God's forgiveness of sin by faith, we are to take our healing by faith.
In the early church this was readily accepted, and healing became a wonderful way for God to show his mercy and power on behalf of his children. With the passing of time the witness of healing within the church has been more on a rare occasion than a regular basis. But I intend to take by faith what my Father wants to give me and in so doing He will be glorified as His mercy and power is once again manifested.
I pray that the Holy Spirit would be our teacher as we continue with this study. In part 2 I'll focus on questions that I and many other Christians have had.
I am grateful for saints that have gone before me such as Andrew Murray, Derek Prince, Jesse Penn Lewis and Watchman Nee. They also have written about this important topic. Let's begin now .......
From Sickness to Health - Part 2
QUESTION #1 - Is sickness from God or Satan?
Day 1- We find part of our answer in these verses as the curtain is pulled aside in Heaven.
We clearly see in these verses that while sickness comes from Satan it can't exist without God's permission.
Day 2- Satan is an oppressor and the prince of this world. Another part to our answer is found in our free will choices. Any man or woman who yields to Satan in sin comes under his dominion with sickness (and maybe early death) often being the consequence. Satan will always be at work in anyone's heart that walks independent of God -- through either refusing to obey God's word or through ignorance.
Day 3- Judas was such a man. Love of money had taken hold of his heart.
Judas had clearly put himself under Satan's dominion.
In Judas's case his sin against Jesus caused sickness in his soul (extreme remorse) that brought about his early death.
Day 4- Here is another example of a man and his wife that were believers who put themselves back under Satan's authority. It too led to their early deaths.
Acts 5: 1-10
QUESTION #2 - If we are believers and have become sick what should be the result of sickness?
We need to see sickness for what it is --- caused by Satan but allowed by God. And if it is allowed by God then it should get our attention.
Day 5- If we just want to get better to continue to live life as we know it, we may not feel at liberty to ask for healing and instead become imprisoned by the sickness that Satan has caused.
Day 6- The Lord wants us set apart (sanctified) and free to serve Him. If we are under a discipline such as sickness then we should be alert to what God wants to show us through it.
Hebrews 12: 10-12
Day 7- God wants us to be ready for whatever use He might have for us.
2 Timothy 2:21
"Good health is too often only a matter of personal comfort and enjoyment, ..... but God cannot minister to selfishness."
When God gains the victory in a believer's life (through any trial) it will have led that person to renounce himself and any sin lurking in his life -- even one he might not be aware of. If we look again at Job's life we see this illustrated.
Day 8- Job's "helpful" friends had accused him of committing grave sins that had brought on his great suffering. This of course wasn't true. God had proclaimed Job a "blameless and upright man." But Job in defending himself had gone too far. He became self-righteous in defending himself instead of humbling himself before God to see if there were any hidden sins.
Finally God speaks to Job...
And when God was all through saying what needed to be said we have a much altered Job.
God had used the whole ordeal to get Job to really know Him. Prior to Job's tragedies, God was at a distance and his knowledge second-hand. But now, Job had seen God with his own eyes. (Job 42:5)
Job had also seen a side of himself that he didn't know -- a man of pride (a know-it-all), and a man who was self-righteous (an adamant defender of self - Job 42:6)
Day 9- Therefore, the result of Job's tragedies, brought a new humility and a deeper relationship so that God was able to use the newly consecrated Job for his friends.
Day 10- Because Job learned what he needed to learn, God blessed him twice as much as before the ordeal.
Job 42: 10,12a, 17
If a sick person is under Satan's influence they will sink deeper under it. They won't recognize the sickness as something God can use in their lives. Instead they will become more and more preoccupied with themselves and their illness.
But if a believer looks to God during the time of illness, he will no doubt grow close to his Lord even as he becomes enlightened about his sickness. If our illness has brought about a deeper abiding, trust, and rest in the Lord, then it has done a good work.
QUESTION #3 - Is sickness always a result of sin?
Day 11- The answer is "yes" in that sin and sickness only came into being on earth with the sin of our first parents. But the answer might also be "no" or not at least directly by the person.
John 9: 1-3
Note: Some of the prevailing Jewish thought at the time was that an infant might sin before it was born and therefore be punished at the time of their birth (Lightfoot). There was also a doctrine that the sin of a parent might cause deformity in a child (Barnes).
We learn from this story that we are not to judge or blame a person with a natural deformity as the Jews did (at that time) without compassion. This man's blindness was not from his sin or his parents but so that God could show forth his mercy and power.
Jesus makes it clear that "the works of God" were the miraculous powers of God to heal and show mercy. The man had not asked for healing. He just happened to be there as Jesus and his disciples came by. Jesus initiated the healing which was a testimony to all who saw it.
QUESTION #4 - Is sickness a punishment?
Quite often sickness is a judgment on sin.
Day 12- If there is some sin in our life, sickness may be used to call our attention to it so that we'll stop.
We may become entangled with pride, worldliness, or carelessness in our service for God. It may not even be our own sin causing a sickness as we saw in John 9:2-3.
Day 13- Sickness should always get us to turn our attention to God so that He can show us the cause. We can begin by searching our own heart and confessing any known sin. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to cast a light on any failure on our part. Sickness for the believer is more of a discipline from God because God is always seeking to deliver us from sin and self. When His message is received by us, it will be a joy for our Father to take away the symptoms. That's because He knows the work has been done in us.
The ordeal of sickness should result in the Lord revealing Himself as our healer and drawing us closer to Him.
If sickness is allowed to linger in us it may be that God has a "greater work" to do using it not only for our sanctification but for that of others.
A current example comes to mind of Joni Erickson Tada. As a teenager she became a quadriplegic, paralyzed in a diving accident. Although I have never met Joni, I have watched her throughout her life grow in grace and love. She has gone on to have a worldwide ministry among those who are disabled AND those who are not. She has been a living example that "all things are possible with God" and yet she remains a quadriplegic. If Joni had become bitter instead of better would she have brought hope to hundreds of thousands around the world? Would anyone outside of her friends and family have ever known her?
Day 14- The Apostle Paul was one of God's greatest servants and could easily have become proud of his achievements. God allowed what Paul described as "a thorn in the flesh". Scripture does not say that this thorn was sickness. Rather, it was a "messenger from Satan to torment me." His opposition was people under Satan's control blocking and trying to stop him at every turn. That tormented Paul the same way that a sickness might. And so Paul "pleaded with the Lord to take it away."
2 Corinthians 12:7-8
What was God's answer to him?
2 Corinthians 12:9a
Now here is the important thing to notice. What was Paul's response?
2 Corinthians 12: 9b-10
If Paul had not taken this "thorn" from God's hands (even though Satan was the cause) he would have become a bitter man and probably died in obscurity. I believe Joni took the same attitude as Paul and in both cases their "thorns" were used by God to do good around the world and bring glory to His name. It is not that God laid on Joni her paralysis or laid on Paul what he faced. In Joni's case it was an accident and for Paul it was people under Satan's influence that hated him. Satan wanted Joni and Paul stopped but God can use what seems like tragedies to further His Kingdom and defeat Satan's evil purposes.
QUESTION #5 - Should we pray, "Lord heal me IF it be your will."
Day 15- As long as this is an open question to us it will be hard to believe for healing. It's impossible to pray in faith for something we aren't sure about. But scripture promises healing as a part of our salvation in Christ. Reread:
Isaiah 53: 4-5 / Matthew 8:17 / 1 Peter 2:24
Day 16- If sickness has come on us it could be God's means of disciplining us so that we either run back to the Lord or draw close to Him to understand the discipline we are facing. God's will is always that we should be sanctified or made holy through the discipline or trial of sickness.
Also, many believers just accept whatever Satan wants to put on us. For example, the world tells us that as we get older we'll probably develop arthritis. Then, when we feel some pain and stiffness in our hands or knees we just accept it as part of old age. We may even start to refer to it as "my arthritis"! Don't just accept pain and sickness! We can pray as Jessie Penn Lewis (English speaker and author) did. She'd say something like this: "Lord, if these pains and stiffness in my joints are from You then I'll accept them. But if Satan is trying to lay them on me, I reject them completely. Now show me what is what!" Then she would wait to see what the Lord would show her. What a great example this old saint is for us today. We should be doing the same.
QUESTION #6 - What is the connection between our health and obedience?
Day 17- There is a definite relationship between our obedience to God and our health. As you read these verses write down how God wants us to obey Him and how He will respond to it.
Exodus 15:25-26 / Exodus 23:25-26 / Leviticus 26:14-16 / Deuteronomy 7:12-15
Day 18- This section of scripture gives us the longest list of curses we will endure "if you do not obey the Lord your God." As you read these verses write down those that pertain to our physical health and welfare.
Day 19- Obedience is only possible when we learn to listen. Jesus is God's living word and the Holy Spirit is His voice in every believer's heart. This verse tells us two things that we'll be doing if we are listening for the Lord.
Day 20- When we truly listen, we accept God's will in place of our own and then act on it as He directs us.
Matthew 7:21 / Luke 8:21
If we love and obey Jesus what will result?
When God makes his home in us he moves in via the Holy Spirit and in this way we are enabled to abide (or live) with Christ. This close living with our Lord creates a circular process. The Father loves Jesus, Jesus loves us, we love Jesus and live to obey Him. As we obey him he blesses us with the joy of his love and fellowship. Then He and the Father end up giving us whatever we ask in his name. That word "whatever" has to include healing.
John 15: 7-16
QUESTION #7 - What role does the "anointing with oil" have in our healing?
Day 21- When the Bible speaks of anointing with oil it is as a symbol of holiness and consecration -- not as a remedy.
Exodus 30: 22-29
Day 22- In the Old Testament the oil was a symbol for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the New Testament the anointing and receiving the Holy Spirit were also linked together.
Therefore to a sick person the anointing of oil should symbolize the action of the Holy Spirit. Notice in James 5:14 that it is the sick person who initiates calling the elders of the church. Then, when the one praying for a sick person also anoints them with oil as prescribed, it shows that the sick person is ready to submit to the Word of God.
QUESTION #8 - How is it possible to die if we have the promise of healing?
Day 23- In scripture we are told that it is 70-80 years as the usual measure of human life. During these years the Father wants to see his children be able to serve Him in good health. These are promises to those who live under the New Covenant.
Psalm 91:16 / Psalm 92:14 / Ephesians 6:3
Therefore the believer walking with his Lord and under the influence of the Holy Spirit should believe God to set them free of sickness as soon as confession of sin has been made and they have prayed in faith for their healing. It is not necessary when it comes time to die that it be by way of sickness. To fall asleep in Jesus is the ideal way to leave this earth. To a believer death means the entrance into full rest from all their labors.
QUESTION #9 - How can a sick person know if God has chosen this sickness as the way we should die?
If a believer is sick at any age they should act on what scripture says about healing. We are never free to alter God's word when it presents a difficulty to us.
By desiring to be healed we are desiring that the power of God be seen through us so that we might continue to do God's will. It's not that we are obligating God to act. It's rather that we are taking the attitude of a confident child who counts on the love of his father to fulfill his promises OR to communicate if something else is his will.
QUESTION #10 - Can we be sick and not know that we are sick and need healing?
My answer here is a personal one -- it's my story. Since I was a young girl I was overweight. I was not what you would call morbidly obese, but always 20-30 pounds beyond where I should be. Perhaps if I had been morbidly obese it would have been clear that something either physically or mentally was wrong. Being overweight in the West is so common that it's almost always attributed to being "part of our genes" and nothing that we can do about it.
Throughout my years I have counted calories and fat grams. I have kept an exercise regime and gone on diets. Nothing has changed the scale except that it has gotten worse not better despite my efforts.
While writing this study my eyes were opened to see that my overweight body is a symptom of a lust for food and a lack of self control which could also be called greed and gluttony. These two "hidden" sins in my life along with my independent attitude in regards to what I eat and when I eat it have been at the heart of my chronic overweight condition.
My body might be saying, "I'm full, don't eat anymore!" But I'd ignore these signals and finish my plate. Gradually I have overridden my "hunger-full switch" so many times that I ignore it completely. I just eat when it's time or when I see something I want.
Overall I am a healthy person but we all know that when you habitually carry an extra 20-30 pounds around you do not have the energy and vitality of a healthy person at their ideal weight. Therefore, I now see that I don't have all the vitality and energy that the Father would want me to have to do his will.
I have confessed these sins of greed, gluttony, and independence and have received God's forgiveness for them. I wrote the prayer below knowing that as I look to the Holy Spirit He will be guiding me. My body will be restored to full health from obesity and my hunger-full switch will be reset so that I can obey it.
Here is the prayer I wrote for myself:
"I count myself dead to gluttony and alive to God. I refuse to obey its evil desires. This sin will no longer be my master. I choose instead to be a slave of righteousness -- a slave to Christ. (Romans 6: 6-14, 17)
The law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death. Holy Spirit, I submit to you as you put to death this sin in me. You have set me free from this bondage to food so that I can serve you as a sharp instrument in your hand. (Romans 8:2)
I throw greed and gluttony off today so that I can run the race that you have set before me. I am keeping my eyes on you for you have promised to guide me with your eyes. (Hebrews 12:1-2 / Psalm 32:8)
My body is a healthy weight and looks good. It feels good and it's ready for your use today!"
Maybe you have some "hidden sins" that society sanctions as normal but which are not in God's eyes. They are making you sick and you don't even know it. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His light. Then obey what He tells you to do. He knows the way back to full health.
FROM SICKNESS TO HEALTH SUMMARY
1. The entrance of sickness and death came into the world because of man's original sin of wanting to act independent from God. At the same time, the whole creation was subjected to God's curse. Christians are not exempt from this.
2. When Jesus took our sins he took from us the evil consequences of sin. He took on Himself the suffering that we deserved to bear by bearing them in his own person so we could be delivered from them. Jesus personally bore our sins so that we could be healed.
Sin is usually the central issue and when it's dealt with everything else can be taken care of. The cross is the basis for our wholeness. When Jesus took our sins away he also took our pains and diseases away.
3. Healing is part of our salvation along with forgiveness of sin, a new nature, and reconciliation with God. It's been secured for us through the death of Jesus on the cross.
4. For us to receive any part of our salvation we must take it by faith. This means we take God at his word and we acknowledge His truth even before we see the reality of it in our own life. We inherit God's promises through faith and patience. (Hebrews 6:12b)
5. Healing can be received into the human spirit through God's word. It is "supernatural medicine" but like physical medicine it must be applied on a regular basis. This means we need to speak God's Word to our individual situations. No one can do this for us.
6. The principle of calling things that are not.
Genuine faith believes what God says rather than what we see at a particular time. God tells us what is true or what will take place and then we believe what God says even though we can't see it yet. When we are fully persuaded that God is able and wanting to keep his promises then we align our thinking, our actions and especially our speech to reflect His truth.
7. The principle of calling for what you want.
We can keep establishing our present condition by our words OR we can speak what God says is true. We can have what we say in faith. Healing won't happen just because you say it. But saying it is part of causing it to happen because God's Words are spirit and life. (John 6:63b)
8. God often uses others in the body of Christ: such as through laying on of hands, anointing with oil, and the prayer of faith.
9. Sickness comes from Satan but it can't continue to exist without God's permission. When we yield to Satan in sin then we come under his dominion -- with sickness and maybe even early death as the consequences. Satan will always be at work in anyone that walks independent of God -- even if it's just one area of life.
10. If a believer is sick he should see it for what it is: caused by Satan but allowed by God so as to get our attention. We may have a sin (known or hidden) that is causing our condition and the Lord may want to show us something. But -- not all sickness is a result of personal sin. God may want to use our healing or restoration so that He can show forth his mercy and mighty powers. Sickness should always get us to turn our attention to God so that He can show us the cause. The ordeal of sickness should result in the Lord revealing Himself as our healer and drawing us closer to Him.
11. There is a definite relationship between our obedience to God and our health. Obedience is only possible when we learn to listen to Him and then accept His will for our lives.
12. While physical death will be a reality for every person on earth, it is the believer's privilege to believe God for full salvation so that he can serve the Lord well all the days of his life before God calls him home.
Next Study: MPGC#40