Misconceptions Regarding Sickness

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Readers often ask why they themselves or family members have not received their healing.

Before getting into the main part of today’s post, I want to express some basic points regarding the many questions I receive about a lack of healing. Understand that no one could possibly answer all the questions concerning why a person’s healing did not take place. However, I do not take lightly the fear and discouragement that comes to many people over a lack of healing. It is my desire that no one becomes discouraged or loses heart while seeking God for healing; neither should anyone’s faith be destroyed due to a family member who was not healed.

I’ve posted previous articles on what God says in scripture about His desire for us to be healed. It is not possible for anyone to know all the factors involved in why someone did not receiving healing, especially someone other than the person who is suffering. Rather than trying to explain reasons that no one other than God Himself knows, these articles, instead, are to get our focus on what truth is available to us to know and understand about healing based on what God has expressed in scripture. It is of absolute necessity to both your emotional health and spiritual well-being not to base your understanding, belief, or doctrine of healing on what you or someone else experienced. You cannot know all that has taken place to cause sickness or prevent healing in both the natural and spiritual realms. It is essential that your understanding of healing is based on what God says about His desires and involvement in healing as seen in scripture. Second, one also does not want to be harmed and prevented from receiving healing due to holding on to erroneous religious traditions. This post today is to remove from our minds some of the common misconceptions about healing that have been spread through religious traditions for centuries.

The first common misconception in need of attention is that sickness is a necessity for a believer, that since Jesus suffered on earth, we must suffer with sicknesses.

The quote religious tradition uses to support this idea is 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer with Him [Jesus], we will reign with Him.” Two points are important in removing the misconception from this verse. First, yes, Jesus did suffer on this earth but the suffering was from religious persecution, not from illness or disease. Second, the apostle Paul is the person writing this quote in 2 Timothy and he is also referring to religious persecution, not sickness. Here is the context:

2 Tim.2:9-12 I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him.

A second common religious tradition is that God causes someone’s illness or delays/refuses his healing as a form of discipline or to cause personal and spiritual growth.

There is a fine line here in realizing the difference between truth and religious tradition in this statement. It is absolutely true that mankind as a whole usually experiences greater personal and spiritual growth during a time of suffering; suffering causes us to re-evaluate and adapt. The fine line here is that, because a person can learn from suffering or difficulties, it does not mean that God is the one causing them. As the old saying, “Hindsight is 20-20.” In retrospect, if we are honest with ourselves, we can see that most of our troubles in life, and even often our illnesses, were brought into being by poor choices, such as acting on impulse, or being in a harmful relationship, or not taking care of one’s body.

The quote that religious tradition often uses to say that sickness is discipline is from Hebrews 12:6, “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens [disciplines].” Religious tradition will apply this quote to sickness and say that God either caused the sickness or is not healing the sickness so that you will have personal/spiritual growth. There are again two important points to notice in this context. First, the discussion from Heb.12:1-13 uses an illustration comparing an earthly father’s discipline of the child he loves to the loving discipline of Father God to His children. Notice love is involved, not the abuse some people have experienced as children by out-of-control fathers or substance abuse situations. Second, the Greek word used here for “discipline” is “paideuo,” and it literally means to train up a child, educate, instruct, learn, teach.(1) A loving parent disciplines a child in a way that does educate and benefit; no wise, loving parental discipline involves giving one’s child a disease. The thought is ludicrous! It is just as absurd to suggest that the all-wise, perfectly loving Father God would give His child a disease as discipline. Think of the person in your realm of knowledge that you believe to be the most wise, successful parent; then realize that God’s discipline of His children is unfathomably more wise, loving, and successful than that of any human parent. When some family members were in a car accident a few years back, a few well-meaning people kept saying that they hoped my family members had learned what God was trying to teach them. Realize, no wise parent would discipline his child by causing the child to have a critical car accident. Neither would God in all His wisdom. Let’s put this religious tradition to an end. Does that mean we have an explanation for all of life’s tragedies? No, but neither does it mean the blame should be put on God for them.

The apostle Paul’s reference to a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) has often been use in religious tradition to support the idea of God giving His children diseases or other ailments.

The phrase “thorn in the flesh” is a metaphor that has literally been in use for 1000’s of years. It does not refer to a physical or “fleshly” sickness. Around 1400 BC, the book of Numbers records God using this metaphor while speaking to the people of Israel, warning them against the possible “torment” from their ungodly enemies. The Hebrew for “torment” is “tsarar,” meaning “adversary, enemy, besiege, oppress, distress, trouble.”(2) It says,

If you don’t kill the Canaanites when you possess the land, they will become thorns in your side. They will torment you. Num.33:55

The purpose here is not to get involved in a discussion about war, but to point out the fact that this phrase is a metaphor and not referring to a physical sickness. There is also insight to be gained from two of the Greek words in Paul’s quote from 2 Corinthians. The Greek term for “messenger” is actually “angel.”(1) Paul is saying that an “angel from satan,” or an evil spiritual messenger is tormenting him. Anyone studying Paul’s life can see where that is obvious, as he suffered frequently from beatings, riots, and imprisonments. Forces of evil were always causing him some form of religious persecution.

More importantly, God describes good and perfect gifts as having their source in Him, not harm.

In James 1:17, God says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father…who does not change.” The Greek word for “good” means beneficial.(1) The Greek term for “perfect” refers to having completeness in a various aspects of one’s life, such as one’s labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.(1) Good and perfect do not describe physical harm, damage, or disease. It is also significant that the context says God does not change, as people do. He cannot be the source of good and perfect in the past and then change to be the source of harm.

Jesus’ own example of God’s character was one of healing and restoration.

Scripture describes Jesus as being the “image of the invisible God (Col.1:15),” or in other words, a visible representation to us of the unseen God. Jesus Himself said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father (Jn.14:9).” Why is this important to us? Because the pattern of Jesus entire ministry was one of healing and restoration, “Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38).” Numerous scriptures describe this. (You can see a list in the “Does God Want to Heal Me?” post referenced below.) Jesus came to be an illustration of the heart, mind, and character of God and His life was one of healing and restoration. This is probably the most important point of all against the religious traditions of God bringing disease or bodily harm to people.

Providing this information on the erroneous nature of some religious traditions will not give you the answers to all your “why” questions when it comes to a lack of healing, but it will bring you peace and relief — if you allow it — to know that God is not the one fighting against you. He desires His activity in your life to be that of healing and restoration, as Jesus illustrated for us.

Click Here to go to Other Informative Posts on Healing:

Does God Want to Heal Me?

Why Doesn’t God Heal Me?

1. Greek definitions are from Strong’s Dictionary of New Testament words.
2. Hebrew definitions are from Strong’s Dictionary of Old Testament words.
3. List of 3 common religious traditions regarding healing were taken from Faith Food, May 12th article, Kenneth Hagin. Research in the Greek and Hebrew terms as well as post discussion is provided by ReceiveHealing.com

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