When it comes to the gifts of Holy Spirit, we can all agree as Christians if not on much else that every denomination and/or church has a differing paradigm or theology on whether they are still available or not to believers.
Perhaps the most significant or most prominent gift debated is that of healing. Specifically, the argument being is healing God’s will?
Many argue that God can heal, having the capability to heal, but it may not be His desire or will to heal someone who is sick.
Some churches go so far as to teach that sickness is put upon people as punishment for sin.
But what does the bible say about these things? What is the desire of God and what is His heart towards us regarding these matters?
Well, first of all we know that scripture is profitable for doctrine according to II Timothy 3:16-17 so the scriptures are where we will draw from.
II Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So as we examine scripture, we want to look for what is the consistent example and what is the established standard of behavior set by God and demonstrated by Jesus regarding healing?
We know that the scriptures tell us that as a man is in his heart, so is he. Essentially meaning that a man’s speech, behavior, his personality and his actions will reflect what is in his heart. So applying that logic to the man who is Jesus, we can determine what His heart, inherent desire or His “will” (if you please) is from studying His outward behaviors.
There are approximately 31 examples in the scripture of Jesus specifically healing people. This does not even take into account the scriptures that mention Jesus healing people that are general and broad such as “and he healed them all” in Mathew 12:15.
Because of this overwhelming display by Jesus, we can surmise that the heart of Jesus or His will was to see people healed, restored and well in their physical bodies and minds, not just their spirit.
So we have established that God does heal. Even though we have not even examined the scriptures in the Old Testament about God being healer, for the sake of time and length we are focusing on the New Testament church by examining Jesus.
We know that the will of God is demonstrated by Jesus because Jesus Himself told us in John 5:19-20 that what He does is by the Fathers direction:
19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
Jesus lived a life surrendered to the will of the Father. Which means that the will of Jesus, His heart and emotions, His desires towards us are those of the Father.
Jesus then demonstrated the heart of the Father as he healed people. We can conclude by this alone that the inherent desire or will of God is for us to be healed and well.
But let’s not stop there. Jesus was asked point blank by one of the persons if he was willing to heal him. If someone is willing, it shows their ever ready desire to carry out something that is requested of them.
8 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Jesus also makes it very clear what not only His desire is,but what His purpose is when he speaks in the synagogue and reads from the scroll of Isaiah.
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus vindicates the prophecy that was made about Him by the Prophet Isaiah.
Now let’s examine healing from the perspective of the cross.
Jesus told us that He came that we might have life and that more abundant:
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Jesus is making a contrasting example – that whatever the enemy is or does, Jesus is and does the opposite.
Jesus said that it is the enemy who comes to steal. Let’s examine that for a moment. Steal what?
Your health, your prosperity, your joy, your faith. We know that the enemy does not simply come to steal spiritual things. Jesus delivered many people who had demons and gave these things back to them.
The enemy comes to kill. Kill in what way? In any way he can, diseases, cancers, diabetes, you name it. Jesus however restores life. How is life restored? By restoring the body, restoring the mind, not just the spirit.
The enemy comes to destroy. Again, destroy what? Anything he possibly can whether your physical body, your mind, your loved ones or possessions.
To summarize, Jesus is saying that whatever the enemy comes to do, HE is the answer to and not only is He the answer to it, it is His desire and his will for us to be free of these things and the attacks of the enemy.
When we look at healing from what was accomplished on the cross, we can ascertain that Jesus not only was punished and crucified for our salvation but so that we can be well and healed.
1 Peter 2:24
24 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.
If you take note of the tense Peter uses, he says you “were” healed. Looking at the speech, we can make the determination that Jesus’ sacrifice not only healed the listeners in the past but that Jesus is still “presently” the atonement for the present and the future. Peter is reminding them of what Jesus did and will continue to do. That the action Jesus took provides healing both now and in any future event.
The context in Isaiah uses the wording “you are healed” which remains ever-present in the “now” or in the middle of the need for healing.
Some argue that the time for healing and miracles have passed or that yes, Jesus and the apostles healed people and did miracles, but that no longer applies to us since we have the bible.
I can’t think of a more absurd line of thinking.
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.
Paul makes it very clear that Jesus Christ never changes. His character, His heart and His will for us never changes. So then it begs the question, if Jesus exemplified the heart of God while He walked as a man through healing and in addition spoke that we would do the same things He did and more because His spirit live in us, how could we possibly conclude that Jesus has changed His heart and mind about wanting us to live in health and be well?
Jesus made it very clear and simple that what He ordained or exemplified would be carried out until He returned.
His will, His desires and His heart being carried out through us as His spirit lives in us. This is carrying out His work as outlined in Matthew chapter 16 – the Great Commission. The problem is many theologians stop at verse 16.
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So, we have established that the inherent will or desire of God’s heart for us to be well and healed through the actions of Jesus Christ and through scripture.
But what about people who say that sickness is God’s wrath and punishment for our sin?
We have to ask the question first and foremost, how can there be any judgement if there is no guilt?
Paul writes in Romans 4:14-15
14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
How can we be guilty of breaking the law (sin) if the law no longer applies? Our righteousness or seemingly lack of is not built upon our actions, our righteousness is founded on our simple faith in God and through grace, we no longer have sin accounted to us.
Paul writes again in Hebrews 8:12-13
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Let’s take it a step further going back to Romans 8:1-2
8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
The Spirit of LIFE in Jesus Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death! God has made me free from the law, sin and death and has no condemnation for me.
Now, even if we say that God uses sickness sometimes to bring us to repentance, how do we reconcile that to Romans 2:4?
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
The only way to reconcile the two is to understand that while God may allow sickness, it is NEVER His will for us to be sick. Everything He does is because He is good and is longing to lead us into relationship with Him and to restore and bless us. His complete desire has been and always will be that we are full of life and well.