This question has sparked an endless debate. There are some who claim that Christ’s death not only bought us forgiveness of our sins and eternal salvation, but also guarantees physical healing in this life. There are some who argue that the reason we suffer pain, sickness, and hardship without God’s healing is lack of faith. What do we make of those claims? Here are five biblical principles on sin, sickness and healing.
- Principle One: There are two classifications of sin—original sin and personal sin. Original is the sinful condition all humans inherit from Adam, who is the head of the human race (cf. Rom 5:12). Personal sins are individual acts of wrong we commit on our own because of our sinful condition (cf. Rom 3:23). Because of original sin, we commit acts of sin.
- Principle Two: Original sin introduced suffering, illness, and death to the human race.If Adam and Eve had not sinned in the Garden of Eden, humans would never have known sickness or death. In the broadest sense, all sickness and suffering today are the result of original sin. After Adam and Eve fell, they began to suffer a death-like existence in a hostile world characterized by suffering. This was caused by their own departure from God’s way (cf. Gen 3).
- Principle Three: Sometimes there is a direct relationship between personal sin and sickness. In Psalms 32:3-5 and 38:3-5 David testifies to the relationship between his own personal acts of disobedience and physical illness. Paul also warned that some of the Corinthian believers were “weak and sick” and a number of them were dead because of their personal sin (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-30).
- Principle Four: Sometimes there is no relationship between personal sin and sickness. “If” in the phrase, “if he has committed sins” in James 5:15 implies that not all sickness is connected to specific sins, though James seems to expect that some sickness is. Some people are born with afflictions, suffering before they ever reach the age of committing personal sin (cf. John 9:1-3; Acts 3:1-2). Others, like Job, are living upright lives when suffering comes (cf. Job 1:1-5). Jesus himself never committed personal sins, yet He suffered; therefore, he can fully sympathize with our plight of suffering in the fallen world (cf. Heb 4:15; 5:8).
- Principle Five: Not every sickness will be healed in this life.Healing, when it does come, is always a gift from God, who is sovereign over all circumstances, including sickness and health. It does not follow, therefore, that lack of faith on the part of the sick person is the reason that the sick person may not be healed. Take another example of Paul’s life. He asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh, but God’s answer was not an immediate healing, but rather the ability for Paul to be content and even boast in his weakness, because even without healing, the Lord proved himself to be sufficient (2 Cor 12:7-10). Physical healing is not guaranteed. We, however, do not doubt God’s power, goodness and wisdom when we suffer or go through sickness. Suffering and sickness is a part and reality of this side of heaven. We shall persevere in faith and we shall pray for healing, but even if we are not healed, we do not lose heart, for our faith does not depend on being healed or not; our faith depends on Christ who died and rose again, who loves us and gave himself up for us.
There will come a day when Christ returns in the fullness of God’s kingdom, when we will indeed be healed of every disease. Until then, we will groan with the whole of creation. We will pray and ask for healing and salvation. We will persevere in our weakness. We will put our faith and hope in Christ who conquered sin and death and brought salvation and eternal life through his death and resurrection.
*Adapted from Charles Swindol’s Commentary on James.
Bible Reading Column by Pastor Charles Changsoo Lee
Mississauga Campus Lead Pastor
This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:
|Monday: Psalm 133-134||☐||Thursday: Psalm 137||☐|
|Tuesday: Psalm 135||☐||Friday: Psalm 138||☐|
|Wednesday: Psalm 136||☐||Saturday: Psalm 139||☐|