An understanding of divine healing requires knowledge of what the Bible teaches about man. What is man? The Bible reveals that man is a physical being, made of flesh and blood, created from the dust of the ground (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:5-7; 5:1-2). He is a living “soul” dependent for life on the air he breathes and the food he eats. The word “soul” comes from the Hebrew nephesh. This word carries no connotation of immortality. Man is a soul; he does not have a soul. Within himself he has no immortality, nor of and by himself does he have any supernatural capacity. His entire existence is dependent upon God who created him. See, for example, Jeremiah 32:27, Acts 17:24-25, Colossians 1:16, Leviticus 17:11, 14, Job 4:17-21; 12:9-10, Isaiah 2:22.
The physical body of man is a wonder of Creation. David wrote: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works . . . ” (Ps. 139:14 AV). (Scriptures quoted in this article are from both the Authorized Version and the New King James Version. Those from the Authorized Version are noted as such). And Job said that he was clothed with “skin and flesh,” fenced with “bones and sinews” (Job 10:11). At the time of death, man goes back to the dust of the earth (Job 34:15). His appointed length of life is approximately 70 years (Ps. 90:10), and when he dies, even his thoughts perish (Ps. 146:4). Man’s only hope of life after death is the Resurrection (Job 14:14-15).
Man’s nature is such that men normally have little interest in the things of God and His Law. Man’s mind is hostile to the Truth and the Way of life God revealed (Rom. 8:7). It is hostile to God’s health laws. Men generally regard the spiritual things of God as foolish (1 Cor. 2:4). Consequently, they fail to realize that suffering is the result of that neglect. Most of man’s problems, whether done ignorantly or willingly, are self-generated-problems that include sickness and disease. Men do not understand that rebellion against the Way of God-a Way designed for man’s good-has produced the myriad of diseases now extant in the world. Today, fully one-half of the world’s diseases are incurable. Like Israel of old, men have forgotten their Maker (Hos. 8:14), yet they seek to sustain and preserve their lives while in a state of rebellion against the One who created them.
What is the Purpose of Disease?
Doctors are willing to admit that, in some people, disease serves a purpose. For example, psychosomatic diseases are sometimes actually desired at the onset as a preventative to avoid frightening situations. Evolutionists believe that disease is nature’s way of natural selection, thereby preserving the balance of the species. From the Bible viewpoint, however, disease serves a much more important purpose. The fact is: Man is born to trouble (Job 5:7). The sorrow of the human race has been largely created by the foolish ways of men. The result of turning “every one to his own way” is the affliction men suffer (Isa. 53:6, Ps. 107:17).
While it may not be fashionable to believe that God could deliberately cause disease, the Bible shows this is a very real thing. Unless one understands God’s purpose for man, this is a hard fact to accept. What is the purpose of disease? Among other things, disease impresses upon men their true status, their total physical limitations, and the inability to attain to an optimum state of health while in a state of defiance against God. Only when men are in deep trouble do they tend to seek God (1 Kings 8:35-36, Hos. 5:15). Rebellion and disobedience to God was the cause of a number of plagues that befell Israel (Deut. 28:45, 59). The Bible actually states there is a time to be afflicted, a time to weep and mourn (Eccl. 3:4, Jas. 4:9). David understood this purpose when he wrote: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word . . . . It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes” (Ps. 119:67, 71 ). If a disease is serious, it can certainly bring on affliction, a sobering time indeed.
The fact is: Man has been assigned travail. This, in order to discover the vital lessons God wants him to learn-the fiery trial we must all experience if we expect to gain eternal life (Eccl. 3:10, 1 Pet. 4:12-13). Peter tells us: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ . . . . Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1: 6-7, 9 AV). Job was an example of a man who was afflicted with the kind of trial needed for salvation. At such a time, we pray to God earnestly (Jas. 5:13). ” . . . The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (v. 16). Trials are a necessary part of the human experience. Because of man’s present state of mind, God has appointed these tests for man’s best interests. Diseases are often a part of that experience.
Does Man’s Nature Contribute to Disease?
In most things, men generally believe they are right. But the Bible warns: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12 ). This is witnessed by the unhappy fruits reflected in the quality of life and level of health experienced by the majority of mankind. We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:8). Man’s nature is his own worst enemy. Medical science has absolutely proven that man’s frame of mind and emotional state can have a decisive effect on his health. The Bible says the same thing (Prov. 11:17). Man’s nature often causes him to seethe with negative emotions, feelings that lead to hatred, contentions, jealousy, dissention, and outbursts of anger (Gal. 5:19-21). Dr. S. I. McMillen, in a book entitled, None of These Diseases, refers to these feelings as destructive, disease-producing emotions. These reactions exacerbate bitterness, evil speaking, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication (Eph. 4:31, Col. 3:8). Much of the sorrow and pain men experience today result from the physical orientation and way of thinking so prevalent. The rejection of God’s Way of life is the root cause behind much of what we experience in life, whether caused by others or by ourselves (Ps. 31:10, Eccl. 8:6).
In the Authorized Version, the Bible instructs:
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (Prov. 14:30).
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov. 17:22).
“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Prov.16:24).
“The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat” (Prov. 15:30).
So, having a godly mental orientation means good health. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Prov. 3:5-8).
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20-22). For those who desire good health, here is a rule: “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Ps. 73:26).
Disease From Numerous Causes
In times past God afflicted His people with sickness, but we should not assume there are no other causes. The world is a physical creation, full of bacteria, germs, viruses, and microorganisms of one kind or another. Ignorance of cleanliness and sanitation was a major cause of the Black Death that killed vast numbers during the middle Ages, and continues to be a problem in some countries even today. God made known to Israel the general things relevant to good health, among them the many laws about washing and cleansing, as well as the necessity to quarantine. Yet, for the most part, these laws have been ignored in many parts of the world. It is only in recent times that many of the bacterial and viral diseases have been conquered. But medical scientists are beginning to recognize that in developed countries these diseases have been replaced by health problems that are associated with lifestyles and stress, so that the specific causes of these are as elusive as ever.
Fossil remains prove that sickness and disease have been a part of the human experience since the beginning. As noted, the Bible shows that one cause of disease is punishment from God in the form of affliction, brought on because of sin. In the Bible, sin is defined as the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4 AV). The Bible reveals that sickness and disease are the inescapable curses for disobedience (Lev. 26:21). God closed the wombs of the women of the house of Abimelech because the king had taken Abraham’s wife as a concubine (Gen. 20:18). For those who hate God, the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children to the third and fourth generations (Ex. 20:5). Exactly as the Bible says, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Ezek. 18:2).
Consider what Deuteronomy 28:20-28 states in the Authorized Version:
The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed. The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.
In a number of instances God directly punished individuals with sickness or disease, and even in some instances, killed them (2 Chr. 21:15, 1 Chr. 13:10). To repeat, incurable afflictions, while a curse from God, are not the only cause of disease. The physical violation of the health laws God set in motion is certainly a factor. Take a look at the abuse of alcohol, a cause of many physical problems. “In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners” (Hos. 7:5 AV). Ignoring the laws of cleanliness often leads to infections of various types. Some diseases are brought on by the violation of both physical and spiritual laws at the same time. Take for example AIDS and genital herpes-often the result of promiscuity. The Bible strongly condemns fornication and adultery, violations of the Ten Commandments. Even cancer of the cervix, often found in the sexually active, has been linked to warts that have been sexually transmitted. Evidence now indicates that cancer of the cervix is often a venereal disease. Virgins almost never suffer from these diseases. Also, a cause of sickness and disease not generally mentioned is iatrogenic disease-doctor-caused disease. It is no joke when it is said that doctors bury their mistakes. The side effects of many drugs can be as dangerous or more so, than the disease itself.
King Ahaziah fell from an upper lattice and died from the injuries (2 Kings 1:2). Violating the laws of inertia and gravity, often the result of accidents, can have devastating consequences. Chiropractors would be quick to point out that the body can suffer many kinds of disorders and sicknesses from the trauma of accidents. Another reason for bad health is war wounds. King Joram was wounded in battle and went back to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds (2 Kings 8:28-29 AV). The Bible states that he was “sick,” that is wounded (v. 29). The book of Job illustrates how Satan can also cause disease. God allow Satan to smite Job. We read: “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:7 AV). There are a number of New Testament examples of demonic possession that caused disease and mental disabilities. Today, modern science and medicine scoff at such a postulation, but in the New Testament the maladies inflicted by demons included dumbness, blindness, lunacy, and various infirmities. During the middle Ages, the Church regarded demon possession as the sole cause of disease, but this was from a lack of knowledge as to the cause of many diseases.
The failure to control emotions, or to direct them in a positive way, has clearly been proven to cause disease. Medical science now recognizes the importance of the mind in health care, a fact that was overlooked for many years. Yet the Bible illustrated this centuries ago.
Consider the following, again in the Authorized Version:
“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Prov. 12:25).
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12).
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (Prov. 14:30).
“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Prov.15:17).
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov. 17:22).
“Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 4:6).
“Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love” (Sol. 2:5).
“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame” (Sol. 8:6).
“And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her” (2 Sam. 13:2).
“And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man . . . . And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it” (Dan. 8:15, 27).
Regardless of the cause of disease and sickness, God is ultimately responsible. Why? As the Ruler of the Universe, He has set laws in motion that regulate man’s health and well-being. Long ago men rejected these laws, so that today, the violation of these laws usually results from indifference or ignorance. Since that time God has kept men in a state of ignorance of His true way (Rom. 1:18-32). The Bible tells us: “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed” (Isa.6:10). Since God created in man a wayward nature, God has allowed men to bring these diseases and curses upon themselves. Many are caused from industrial pollution and vitiated foods that have the real food value removed in the refining process. The vast majority of people in developed countries live on junk food, and in other regions of the world people are in poor health or die of famine because of food shortages. Centuries ago God warned, as recorded in the Authorized Version: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (Deut. 28:15). God says: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand” (Deut. 32:39). When God sets His hand to punish, there is little man can do.
God has already made known the purpose of affliction, often in the form of disease and sickness. Disease and sickness can have a very positive effect in bringing us close to God.
Notice these texts. These are as follows in the Authorized Version:
“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (Ps. 119:50).
“Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law” (Ps. 119:153).
“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hos. 5:15).
“. . . I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (Jonah 2:2).
Does God Heal?
A number of Scriptures clearly point out that God is the Healer, and according to His purpose, heals those who earnestly seek Him. These are from the Authorized Version.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Ps. 103:2-3).
“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
“Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 20:5).
“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matt 8:2-3).
Some may argue that the above texts should not be construed as a promise. Nevertheless, it is clear that God does claim to have the power to heal, and often does so for those who earnestly seek Him. Jesus healed many during His ministry, and gave the same power and authority to His Apostles. “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt. 10:1 AV). We see in the book of Acts that after Christ’s resurrection, the Apostles performed many acts of healing. The commission that Christ gave His Apostles included healing the sick (Mark 16:15-18). Since this commission is to continue until Christ’s Second Coming, we can expect God’s true servants to be healing the sick today. Compare Mark 16:15-18 with Matthew 28:18-20.
What is Healing?
In the Old Testament, healing meant, “to mend by stitching,” “cure,” “to cause to heal,” “repair,” or “make whole.” Even the word “physician” comes from the same root word. Healing by the use of natural means was a part of the Old Testament process. “If men contend with each other, and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but is confined to his bed, if he rises again and walks about outside with his staff, then he who struck him shall be acquitted. He shall only pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for him to be thoroughly healed” (Ex. 21:18-19). It has been said that the most significant discovery in the field of medical science was the concept of a “life force,” that is, a natural healing or recuperative power residing within the body that restores balance. Yet, as we see in the above text, God revealed this principle to Moses. Not until the time of Hippocrates was this concept understood by the world in general.
From the Bible viewpoint, healing involves the recovery of physical health, the removal of the cause of sickness. Strictly speaking, healing is the forgiveness of sin. In some cases sickness is caused by the one who became ill, in some people it is brought on by the sins of others. A case in point would be an innocent child born with the effects of venereal disease, or AIDS. A New Testament example is the man who was born blind. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him who had sinned, the man or his parents, Jesus gave this reply: ” . . . Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3 AV). This example is an exception to the rule, however. Regardless of the cause, when one looks to God for healing, faith is required. Jesus healed the centurion’s servant because of the faith of the centurion. He said: “. . . Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel” (Matt. 8:10). The book of Acts also reveals that faith is required for healing (Acts 14:9). Those who desire to be healed must have faith in the stripes of Christ. What does that mean?
The Apostle Peter states:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 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 Pet. 2:21-24 AV)
Christ was beaten terribly before His crucifixion (Matt. 27:26). Isaiah tells us: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But 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” (Isa. 53:4-5 AV). “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isa. 52:14 AV).
For our violations of God’s Law, Christ died in our stead. For our violations of God’s health law, Christ was beaten in our stead. By repenting and accepting what Christ did for us, we need not suffer either eternal death, or disease. In both cases, Christ paid the penalty for sin in our stead. To be saved, we must have faith in Christ’s blood for the payment for our spiritual sins. To be healed, we must have faith in Christ’s stripes for the payment of our physical sins.
What is faith?
Paul tells us: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (v. 6). In brief, faith is absolute confidence in both God’s existence, and the veracity of His word. In other words, the belief that He is an Eternal Living Being and that He will fulfill what He has promised. This is what is required for salvation, and this is what is required for healing.
Though we may not know the specific reason why we suffer from sickness, we should come to a general acknowledgment that in some way we have fallen short of God’s perfect way, and that, more than likely, out of ignorance of God’s health law, we are the one most responsible for our condition. If we become aware of what we are doing that is wrong, we must repent, that is, we must stop doing what brought on the disease in the first place. When Jesus healed a man who had been crippled for a long time, He told him: ” . . . See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14).
When it comes to faith for healing, can faith be legislated, that is, can a standard be set that all must meet in order to be healed? Jesus told the two blind men, ” . . . According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29 AV). By this example Jesus illustrated what kind of faith was required for healing. The two blind men were immediately healed (v. 30). Jesus described faith to His disciples: ” . . . I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt. 17:20). Mark’s account states: “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:23-24).
There is a difference, however, in “believing” and “thinking we believe.” They are not the same. Notice this example: “Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24). Jesus did not censure the man for his lack of faith. Rather, He cast out the demon that possessed the lad. What needs to be understood is that different levels of understanding lead to different levels of faith. Those called of God do not all possess the same level of faith. Often Jesus healed spiritual babes, so to speak, yet later on in Paul’s epistles we find some were not immediately healed (2 Tim. 4:20). It appears those older in the faith are required to undergo more trials.
Who Can Forgive Sins?
Since divine healing is the forgiveness of sin, who is it that can forgive the violations of the laws that brought on the disease? The answer: God alone. The Bible clearly reveals this in the New Testament:
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. (Matt. 9:2-7 AV)
Another example is found in Luke 7, where Jesus forgave the woman who had washed His feet.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:44-50 AV)
One of God’s benefits to man is found in Psalm 103:2-3. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” Divine healing is associated with this forgiveness because it is the forgiveness of sin. This is why the Apostle James wrote: “Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (Jas. 5:14-15).
The elders pray for the man and anoint him with oil, but it is God who forgives and heals.
When Does God Hear?
The man who said, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth” (John 9:31 AV) spoke the truth. This statement certainly applies to divine healing. God told the people of Israel: ” . . . If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex. 15:26).
Notice these admonitions from the Authorized Version:
“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Prov. 4:10).
“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Prov. 10:27).
“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Prov. 14:27).
“The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil” (Prov. 19:23).
“Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deut. 5:33).
The Bible continually emphasizes the importance of God’s Law in the matter of health.
“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee” (Prov. 3:1-2).
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased” (Prov. 9:10-11).
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. (Deut. 30:19-20)
One important health law often overlooked is the law of clean and unclean meats. In the light of modern discoveries concerning the harmful effects of fatty meats, it would be well to see what God says about flesh (Lev. 11, Deut. 14).
The above texts demonstrate the importance of obedience to God’s Laws and Commandments. Those who practice these can rely on God for deliverance in times of trouble.
What Can We Do for Ourselves?
The question is: Can our efforts to affect healing hinder God’s purpose? For example, does reliance upon medical science thwart the purpose of trials that befall us? Satan was certainly aware that the strongest drive in the human race is self-preservation. “So Satan answered the LORD and said, Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life” (Job 2:4). While medical science has accomplished much, there are diseases that are incurable. What do we do then? The efforts of men are futile in such cases. Perhaps this applies to what Jeremiah wrote: “Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD” (Jer. 17:5). The implication here is that one who once knew God chose to depart from Him. The end result is bound to be disappointment. The primary problem today is the tendency of modern medical science to deal with the problem, not the cause. However, there are fields of medicine available that work on the prevention of disease. The Bible tells us: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8). If one can find the cause of his illness and then take measures to correct it, in many cases, if given half a chance, the disease will go away. So, the recuperative powers of nature very much exist.
God alone knows the purpose in life for each individual. The Bible indicates that those called of God are required to endure trials. But those trials can manifest themselves in many different ways. Disease or sickness may be only one of many. The reader should keep in mind that one might become sick through no fault of his own. Satan struck Job. Or, one may be injured in an accident when someone else was entirely to blame. Stress and emotional problems may be forced upon us by world conditions or by the actions of others. Improper diet or a lack of proper food in situations often beyond our control can make us ill.
So, when it comes to healing, what can we do for ourselves? The Old Testament approach to health required obedience to God, the use of preventative measures, and the utilization of the recuperative powers of nature. Since God does not change, these are good guidelines for us today. There are Bible examples of specific things done for disease. See, for example, 2 Kings 20:7, Isaiah 1:6, Luke10:34, 1 Timothy 5:23, Revelation 22:2. Christ went about healing the sick. It is God’s desire that we be in good health. Divine healing extends beyond the recuperative powers of nature. Though they had a fatal disease, some have experienced the benefit of healing. Most people today know little about God’s power to heal and have opted to trust medical science. For many diseases, medical science can affect a cure. or others there is no cure. But a cure is not divine healing. Divine healing is the forgiveness of sin, most often forgiveness for breaking one or many of the health laws God has set in motion. This is why Jesus often told the sick, “Go and sin no more.” God is not limited in power. He says: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). But what should be done for one’s illness depends on the faith of the individual. So what we do for ourselves is a matter of personal choice. To a large extent this depends upon one’s spiritual relationship with God. It is a decision each of us must make. The man who trusts God for healing must always keep in mind, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
Does God Not Heal Today?
Compared to the earth’s population and the amount of sickness and disease in the world today, the number of people who really trust God for healing is minuscule. At the present time, belief in God has diminished to the point that even those who consider themselves believers do not normally think God intervenes directly to heal the sick. Some of the most ardent churchgoers are the most vocal in their opposition to those who advocate faith healing. The idea that God could cause disease and that He can heal is repugnant to many. Yet, one of God’s names is Yahweh ropheka-“God Healer.” The Bible states: “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Sam. 2:6 AV). See also Job 5:18 and Hosea 6:1.
Most doctors believe faith healing has a natural explanation; the most logical is that the cause of the illness was merely hysteria or stress. They regard the gospels as largely hearsay, and that the healings Christ performed were the result of suggestion or autosuggestion. Medical doctors do not deny that “healers” are able to help patients, and that the recoveries cannot be explained by medical science, but from a practical viewpoint these recoveries are from functional or hysterical disorders. In the long run, doctors feel more harm than good is done because patients fail to seek sound medical help. What doctors often fail to mention, however, is that the reason many people turn to God for healing is because the medical profession has been unable to help them. Most churchmen have so little regard for God’s power that they feel anyone who employs divine healing without the supervision of a medical doctor is risking his life.
In both instances, trusting in God or trusting in medical science involves faith. In one, the sick put their trust in God, in the other, in men. We have already seen what the Bible says about trusting in man. Is there a place for the medical profession? Of course there is. See Matthew 9:12 and Colossians 4:14. There are many things doctors can do to help or even cure people. But a medical cure is not divine healing. Two important factors must always be considered: (1) What are the side effects of a drug or medicine? That is, is the cure worse than the disease? And, (2) while one can gain relief or prevent a condition from becoming worse by the use of a medicine, does he trust the doctor and medicine to heal him? If not, he is merely using the medicine as a crutch in much the same way he may wear eyeglasses or false teeth. But this is not divine healing.
In the matter of divine healing, God is not competing with physicians. When it comes to health, the reason the Bible says what it does regarding man is because half of all diseases are incurable. Compare 2 Chronicles 16:12-13 and Mark 5:25-26. Outside of perhaps giving relief, the medical profession can do nothing about fatal diseases. Only God can. God is the Healer, yet the majority of mankind has never been made aware of this. In addition, the health laws found in the Old Testament have been completely overlooked.
Whether we like it or not, disease is an integral part of the human experience. But so is divine healing. Jesus healed often. He has not changed. He is the Living God in heaven (Heb. 4:14-16). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). God does heal today, and has done so many times. The refusal, inability, or failure to understand the Bible revelation regarding the cause of disease, and the lack of faith to trust God for healing, has led to much grief. Faith is a requirement for divine healing, and while some Bible examples do not specifically say each person healed had active faith, it does show that there can be no healing if there is active disbelief. God often hears the prayers of those who come to Him for help, as well as the prayers of those who intercede in behalf of others.
Men must come to realize the importance of obeying the spiritual laws of God, as well as the health laws God has set in motion. Health and healing should be viewed in the light of obedience to God’s physical and spiritual laws. Spiritual laws include the Ten Commandments. Physical laws include a wholesome, balanced diet; getting plenty of exercise; plenty of sunshine and fresh air; cleanliness in the home and body; obtaining sufficient sleep; maintaining a tranquil mind; and avoiding bodily injury. Beginning with the Bible, men need to educate themselves regarding health, and to keep a balanced mind in all areas of well-being. They should rid themselves of the diet and bad habits that may be causing illness. God made us all free moral agents. While we should be allowed to do what we can for ourselves in the matter of health, we should keep in mind that trusting men may not entirely be in our best interests.
The matter of trusting God for healing is a matter of faith. God does heal today. But faith cannot be legislated. When we become God’s children, we start out as babes in Christ. Then we grow spiritually. Growing in faith and trusting God for healing is a part of this process. God allows each of us time to grown in grace and knowledge. Jesus did not condemn the man who cried out, ” . . . Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Not all have the same level of faith and understanding. Regardless, God desires that all come to know Him, to believe, and to trust Him for healing. The Bible tells us, ” . . . The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17).