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Healing for Christians

The situation for believers with respect to healing is totally different. This is the second stream of teaching on healing in the Bible. The healing of a believer is based on the covenant.

Key 1: Revelation

Christians need to get a revelation of the fullness of Godís covenant with us. We must understand the promise of the covenant that God has established. Healing is part of our covenant inheritance.

There was no sickness before the fall. Man was created in the image of God and God does not get sick. He will not die. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of life to protect them from sickness and death. After they sinned, they were cut off from the Tree of Life. There sin placed the whole world under a curse and brought death into world (Gen 3:24). As Paul said, "The wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23)

Sickness is part of the curse of sin. Just as the Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance (Eph 1:13,14), sickness is deposit, guaranteeing death. Sickness is the firstfruits of death and a constant reminder of our frailty.

In the Old Covenant with Israel, sickness, plagues epidemics are part of the curse of sin (Deut 28:21,22,27,28). Full health is promised to those who obey.

Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span (Ex 23:25,26).

This passage is not hard to interpret. God promised that those who serve him will be free from sickness and will live a full life span. This was the experience of Moses. He was one hundred and twenty years old when he went to be with God, but his eyes were not dim and his body was not weak (Deut 34:7). Caleb was a strong at eighty years of age, as had been when he was sent out as a spy (Joshua 14:7,8, 10-12).

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God (Psalm 92:12,13).

The promise of the Old Covenant is clear. The problem was that it was conditional on obedience. Most people found it difficult to achieve the level of righteousness needed to be free of sickness (Heb 11:13,39,40). They never entered into the promised blessing, because they failed to obey God.

New Covenant

The New Covenant is a better covenant, containing better promises (Heb 8:6). The promises of the Old Covenant were not received due to disobedience and lack of righteous. Jesus death on the cross changed that by providing perfect righteousness for all who believe. He paid the penalty for sin and disobedience, providing the benefits of the covenant to those who have faith in him (Heb 9:15). We no longer have to live a perfect life to receive freedom from sickness. This is now part of our inheritance in Christ, through faith.

Jesus died on the cross to deal with all the effects of sin. As sickness is an effect of sin, it was also dealt with on the cross (Gal 3:13). Healing is part of the salvation package that Jesus established for his people. The Greek word for save (sozw) also means "heal". The salvation established on the cross dealt with both sin and sickness. Jesus restored everything that was effected by sin, including sickness.

Matt 27:26-30 records that Jesus was flogged, spat on and struck with a rod. This was not necessary for paying the penalty of sin. It was for our healing.

This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases (Matt 8:17)

1 Peter 2:24 quotes the same verse. These passages are quite clear. Our sickness was dealt with by the cross, in the same way that it dealt with sin Therefore, health is part of our inheritance in Christ. This has two important consequences.

1. New Christian

A new Christian who is sick should be healed when they are saved.  If the evangelist is praying for the sick, most who receive the gospel will be healed. This should be normal practice. The full gospel includes healing.

As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt 10:7,8).

If these words are applied, those who receive the gospel will be healed. Healing is key part of the package. It includes forgiveness, deliverance, release from demons and the gift of the Spirit. If would be odd if part of the package were not received. The situation would have to be remedied.

We need a radical rethink about this. A new Christians is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). The old has gone and the new has come. If a man who is proud and has both a spirit of anger and chronic bronchitis were born again, we would expect him to become humble. We would want him to free of the spirit of anger. Why would we expect his chronic bronchitis to continue? They are all part of the old life that should go.

In practice, it should be easier to deal with sickness than sin. The man might be tempted to sin again, but he would be unlikely to want his chronic bronchitis back again. Jesus said,

Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? (Luke 5:23).

Jesus implied that sickness is easier to death than sin. Sickness just took a word, whereas sin required his death on a cross.

2. Christians should walk in health

The second implication of the New Covenant is that Christians should walk in health. Being healthy should be normal for every believer. The health of the believer is based on the new covenant and what Jesus achieved on the cross. It is part of Godís promise for believers. Healing is part of the salvation package

In Exodus 15:26, God is called Yahweh Rapha, which means God the Healer. Healing is part of Godís name. The people of Yahweh Rapha should be whole and healthy.

Despite these clear teachings, sickness is pervasive in the church. This suggests that there is something wrong in our understanding of salvation or the way that we are functioning. In this article I attempt to crack through this conundrum. The first step is to understand the causes of sickness among Christians.

Causes or Sickness

I have searched the scriptures and can only find two causes of sickness among Christians: Satan and sin. I will explain these more fully in the next sections.

1. Satan

Sickness can be an attack by the evil spiritual powers. The scriptures teach that Satan has the power to attack people with sickness (Acts 10:38). In fact, sickness is his second most powerful weapon. If we are sick, he has a foothold in our life. He can use it, when he chooses, to control us. Once we understand its source, we should hate sickness. Satan comes to steal, destroy and kill (John 10:10). Our health is part of what he tries to steal.

I believe that sickness is the most common attack from Satan that we experience. He is very subtle. We often gradually accept sickness. We get a headache or a sore foot and we accept it. Satan trying us out and testing out limits. Once we accept something from him, he can give us more, when he chooses. He will do this at key times when he wants to disrupt our service of Christ. Sickness will take hold slowly, but we are gradually being robbed of our salvation.

Satan often uses sin as an excuse to attack, but he is also a cheat and attacks even if we have not sinned. Job was a righteous man, yet Satan was able to attack him with terrible sickness. He did not have an evil spirit, but he was struck with boils and sores (Job 2:7). Satan was the direct cause of his sickness.

The devil often attacks when we go all out for God. An example from the New Testament is Epaphroditus (Phil 2:26,27). He was so ill he almost died. This was probably an attack of the devil, to disrupt his service of the Lord. Similarly, Satan attacked Eutychus, to disrupt a key meeting between Paul and the elders of the Church (Acts 20:9-11). Tabitha was a key leader in the church at Joppa. Satan tried to halt this work by attacking her with sickness. God answered with a miracle (Acts 9:36-41).

Christians blame Satan for too much sin. Most sin is really caused by our own flesh. On the other hand, we do not blame enough sickness on Satan. He is responsible for a lot of sickness. He is able to get away with this, because he has deceived us into believing that he is not the cause. He is quite happy being wrongly blamed for our sin, if it stops us from seeing that he is the cause of most of our sickness.

2. Sin

We must face the fact that according to the Bible a lot of sickness is caused by sin. This truth is unpalatable, but it is inescapable. However, even this truth is misunderstood. Although sin causes a lot sickness, much of the sin is not personal (John 9:1-3). We need an understanding of all the different ways that sin can cause sickness.

Personal

Some sickness is caused by personal sin. Jesus spoke very directly to the man who had been paralysed.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." (John 5:14).

Numbers 12:1,2 records that Miriam became leprous, because she was critical of Moses. David records that he became sick after he sinned (Psalm 38:5-11). Jacob had a limp, because he did not trust God, but was a master manipulator (Gen 32:30,31). He was left a reminder of his dealings to keep him humble. Asthma is sometimes caused by fear, and arthritis is sometimes caused by bitterness (see also Luke 1:20; 62-66, Prov 17:22; 16:34; 14:30).

Sometimes the sin is not caring for bodies adequately. Lack of sleep and stress can make us sick. Prayer is not the solution to this sickness. We must do something about the cause to be healed. Sometimes the lack of care can simply be poor nutrition or bad diet. The scriptures contain considerable advice on diet (Lev 11, Deut 14). Godís people were warned against eating fat, long before heart disease became a concern (Lev 7:22). Ignoring this advice is a sin. Christians should not expect God to heal them, if their sickness is caused by bad diet.

Timothy had frequent sickness because he was drinking bad water and fasting excessively (1 Tim 5:23). He was sinning by not caring for his body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul suggested a change of diet rather than prayer to resolve this problem.

Sometimes sickness is the result of personal sin, but this is not always the case.

Family

The cause of sickness may be a sin in the family. Often it will be an early predecessor, who has sinned, placing the family under a curse (Lev 20:20; Prov 26:2). (Derek Prince has good teaching on dealing with family curses.)

Church

Sin in a church may be the cause of sickness. The church of Thyratira tolerated the spirit of Jezebel (Rev 2:20-23). The result of this sin in the church was that many people in the church were sick and depressed. The sin of church leaders can affect the church as a whole. The church in Corinth had organised its meetings incorrectly and their was disunity in the body (1 Cor 11:29,30). This resulted in much sickness and some people had died.

City or Nation

The sin of a political leader can affect the whole nation. All Israel suffered a terrible plague, because David counted his fighting man in disobedience to God (Sam 24:15). The sin of one man in a position of authority affected an entire nation (see also Gen 20:3,7,9,17).

Sometimes an entire city or nation may engage in the sin (Exodus 32:35). If a city or nation has a common sin, this can result in a common sickness among its people.

However there is no common curse of sickness (Psalm 91:5-13). We do not have to share in our city or nationís curse. In Exodus 9:5,6; 12:29,30, the Israelites were kept safe when the people of Egypt were cursed for sinning against God. God can keep his people safe in a sinful city or nation.

No Third Cause

Sin and Satan are the only two causes of sickness for Christians. The good news is that there are no other causes of sickness in the Scriptures. Some Christians identify a third cause of sickness. They suggest that sickness is something that just happens in a fallen world. In this view sickness has a physical cause. It is the result of contact with someone with an infection. However, this is not a Christian view. It is rooted in the modern philosophy of naturalism or materialism, which assumes that everything that actually exists is material, or physical. Materialism seeks to explain every event in the universe as resulting from biological, social, genetic, environmental or physical interactions. All events are determined by cause and effect, with no spiritual or external influence.

The Bible teaches something quite different. In Godís economy, nothing happens by chance. Random events happen do not happen to Christians. Everything in our lives has a spiritual dimension. Everything that happens on earth is an interaction between the workings of God and the machinations of the enemy.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:10).

This means that although events may appear to have physical causes, there are spiritual implications behind them. For example, Eli the high priest was blind and could not see (1 Sam 4:15). A physical examination of Eli would have shown that he had cataracts. However the scripture teach that he was blind because he refused to do anything about his sons sins, but "turned a blind eye" as the common saying goes (1 Sam 2:29). Similarly, an inspection of Jobís boils would be identify the staphylococcus causing problem, but the scriptures explain that they were actually caused by an attack of Satan (Job 2:7). King Asa sought help from the King of Damascus. He died aged thirty-nine from an infection in his feet, but the real reason was that "even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord" (2 Chron 16:13).

Jesus healed numerous sick people. In each case it would have been possible to diagnose the infection causing the disease, but from God point of view, they were "under the power of the devil" (Acts 10:38). Jesus healed a woman who had been bent over for eighteen years and could not straighten up at all. A physical examination would have shown the destruction of her spine, but Jesus said that "Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years" (Luke 10:13-16). Christians must look beyond the medical facts and into the spiritual dimension to understand the causes of sickness. If we do not do this, we will not get victory over sickness.

Identify the Cause

The good news is that there are only two causes of sickness and that Jesus dealt with both of these on the cross. What we do not understand is that laying on of hands for healing is not the solution for either cause. This gift of healing is for unbelievers. Many in the church are going forward for prayer at meetings, but are not healed. The reason is that they are in the wrong stream of teaching. The church is using a method of healing for Christians that should be used in evangelism to the lost.

For Christians, they key issue for healing is to identify the cause. Is the sickness caused by sin or Satan? The Holy Spirit should be able to reveal the answer to this question. The church elders will be able to help, if the Christian cannot get an answer. Once the cause is known, it can be dealt with.

1. Sin

I am a sinner, so the cause of my sickness will often be sin.  If the cause of the sickness is identified as sin, the next step is to determine who sinned. This is really important. We should not just assume that person who is sick is the one who has sinned. Once we identify the sin and the sinner, we know how to deal with it.

If the sin is personal, the solution is simple: repentance. If the sin has been persistent, the sick Christian may need to confess the sin to friends or to elders to get free.

If the cause of the sickness is the sin of the city or nation, the Christian will need to get separate from that sin. They will need to ensure that they are not participating in the sin of the nation, but identifying with those who are resisting it. For example, if their city is resisting the Holy Spirit, they should make sure that they are always moving in the Spirit. They should also pray for the city and nation.

If the cause of the sickness is family curse, it should be broken.

Besetting Sin

Sometimes, the sickness may be caused by a besetting sin. Many of us have particular weak point in our character that we battle with for much of our Christian life. (I suspect that Paulís "thorn in the flesh" was a besetting sin and not weak eyesight as if often suggested.) A good example of a besetting sin can be seen in the life of Jacob. A weak point in his character was that whenever he got into trouble, he would try to manipulate events rather than trust in God. He even tried to wrestle with God. God touched his hip and gave him a limp, to remind him of his weakness (Gen 32:31). Jacob could not be healed of this sickness, until he got victory over his besetting sin that caused it.

If our sickness is caused by a besetting sin, we may not be healed until we get victory over it. This may take time. Strong spiritual support from Christian friends and elders may speed the process.

2. Satan

Most sickness is the result of spiritual attack by Satan. The Bible teaches that if Satan attacks, we must resist him

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:8,9).

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Must resist the devil when he attacks with sickness.

This means that if I get a sore foot, I should not accept it, but resist it. I can command it to leave. We have authority over our bodies, so we can decide what enters.

We say no to sin, but do not say no to sickness (Benny Hinn)

Key 2: Resisting

Jesus resisted the devil by quoting the scriptures; he did not argue or shout. He resisted with words, calmly stating the scriptures that were relevant to his situation and claiming them for himself (Luke 4:1-12). He commanded Satan to "get behind him", which is similar to telling him "get lost". We should resist sickness in the same way.

An attack of sickness can be resisted with words, when we feel it beginning. Jesus has given us authority over sickness and God has given us authority over our bodies, so we can speak to sickness and command it to leave our body. We can tell it that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit so sickness does not belong in it. We can declare that Jesus dealt with sickness on the cross.

Key 3: Prophesying Health

We should prophesy health to sickness.

He sent forth his word and healed them (Ps 107:20)

The Word of God heals. Part of the battle is to speak out prophetic words of peace and health and sickness.  A Christian may prophesy that a sick person will be healed, if the Holy Spirit leads (Mark 10:52).

The Letter of James

This sets out the pattern for dealing with sickness, whether through sin or spiritual attack. James outlines a two-level defence against sickness.

 

Sin

Sickness

 

 

 

 

Christian Friends

Therefore confess your sins to each other. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:16,19)

Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:16-18)

 

 

Elders

If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (James 5:15)

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.(James 5:14,15)

At the first level we have Christian friends. If we sin, they will challenge us. We can confess our sins to one another to get free of the sickness brought by sin. If we are attacked by sickness, our friends will pray together with us to get victory. Victory of sickness comes through being in strong relationships with other strong Christians.

At the second level we have elders. If our friends cannot get victory, we bring in the big guns to deal with serious sickness. Elders can deal with sickness, whether it comes by sin or by spiritual attack. If there is a problem with sin, the elders will have the discernment to get to the bottom of it and get the sick person forgiven. If the cause is a spiritual attack, the elders will have the strength to get victory against the enemy. Victory over sickness comes from being submitted to elders who have the faith to heal.

James 5:14-16 is very simple and not hard to interpret. It says that the sick person will be healed. There are no ifs, no buts and no exceptions. The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. It is hard to argue with that.

Key 4: Resisting Together

Sickness is tough to deal with. We often cannot resist it standing alone. It is hard to have faith, when burdened with sickness. Resisting is hard when we are weak or unwell. We need others to stand with us and do battle. If we are under attack by sickness, we cannot stand alone. This is the reason that he modern church does not have victory over sickness. Christians are isolated, so Satan is able to pick off one at a time. Christians have compassion for friends who are sick, but they do not usually go into battle for them.

The support of Christian friends who can resist with us by speaking against the sickness will also be important in getting victory over sickness.  Christians should together in twos or threes to deal with attacks of sickness. They will be able to stand against sickness together. They should commit to praying through to victory every time one is attacked.

Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim 4:20). This is the only case of sickness in New Testament that was not healed. There is no explanation, but Paul complains that his colleagues have deserted him and left him alone. Because he was isolated an under pressure, he did not have the strength to overcome the attack on Trophimus.

Victory over sickness comes from being in relationship with Christian friends, who will go into battle against a sickness attack and push through to victory.

    • The paralytic had friends with faith for him to be healed (Luke 5:18).
    • The man by the pool had no friends to stand with him (John 5:5-7).

As Christians we need to be with people who have victory over sickness.

Sickness is an issue of confrontation and control. It is a key part of the confrontation between the kingdom of darkness and Kingdom of God. Healing and deliverance is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

Resisting and Submission

If we understand that dealing with sickness is spiritual warfare, we will approach it in a different way. The key to healing is resistance to sickness. We must stand against the powers that would rob us. In Ephesians 6:10-18 the word stand is used three times. The Greek word translated as stand is "histemi". It means to stand, stand firm, make a stand or hold one's ground. It is from the same root as "resist". When attacked by sickness, we should stand against it. We stand against powers that would rob us. We stand in what we have received.

James says that before we start to resist Satan, we should submit to God.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

The word translated as "resist" is the Greek word "ant-histemi", which literally means to "stand against". Resisting is the same as standing. The meaning of the word "submit" is to "place ourselves under". Therefore we must stand under Gods authority before we stand against the devil.

Peter said something very similar:

Submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God...... Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith... (1 Pet 5:5,6,8,9)

There is a clear pattern in this passage.

  • Submit to one another (cf Eph 5:21)
  • Submit to your elders
  • Submit to God
  • Be vigilant
  • Resist the devil
  • Stand in the faith

When we submit to each other, we are giving others the authority to speak into our life and to act on our behalf against evil. Another Christian cannot stand with me against the evil attacking me, unless I have given them authority in my life. I give other Christians, authority in my life by submitting to them. Resisting evil and submission go together.

When Paul said that elders would watch over and care for us (1 Tim 5:17), he used the Greek word "pro-histemi, which means "stand before". When we submit to elders, they are standing before us and with us. The word "stand" is plural in the Greek New Testament. Standing is not something that we do on our own. We must stand together with others to achieve victory. This is something that Christians need to do better. A soldier who stands alone is easily defeated. To many Christians are defeated because they stand alone (even while being part of a church).

The Armour of God

We put on the armour of God so that we can stand against the devil's schemes (Eph 6). One way of approaching the armour of God is to see it as protection against these two forms of attack: sin and sickness. The first three pieces of armour protect against sin. The second three protect against sickness. To understand the nature of the "flaming arrows", we must examine the way the expression is used in scripture. In Psalm 38, the flaming arrows represent sickness.

O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sinÖ.
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful follyÖÖ
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body (Psalm 38:1-8)

David described his sickness as arrows that destroyed his flesh. They came from God because David had sinned. Job also described his sickness as arrows in his flesh (Job 6:4). Therefore, the flaming arrows of the evil one can also be interpreted as attacks of sickness and disease.  We must understand that the expression Helmet of Salvation could also be translated as the Helmet of Healing.

When seen in this light three of the weapons deal with sin and three deal with sickness. 

Spiritual Armour

 

Sin

Sickness

Belt of Truth

Walking in the truth of the word of God is the best protection against the sin.

Shield Of Faith

Faith is essential for defeating sickness. The promises of God are received by faith

Breastplate of Righteousness

Understanding our righteousness in Christ protects from sin and condemnation.

Helmet of Healing

In Greek, salvation = healing). We need a revelation in our minds that the cross bought salvation from sickness

Gospel of Peace

Meditating on the cross and the gospel is the best antidote to the sin of pride

Sword of the Spirit

We can use the word of God to fight sickness by claiming its promises

Holy Spirit can teach us how to fight together with these weapons. We should understand that the Shield of Faith in Ephesians is oblong. It is like the shields used by riot police. Roman soldiers could form a line and lock their shields together in a continuous barrier. If one was attacked, the others did not watch and criticise (as often happens when a Christian gets sick), they joined together to protect him against the attack. When they stood shoulder to shoulder with shields in place, they could withstand a powerful attack. Christians should attempt to copy this model. This level of solidarity does not come automatically from being part of a church, but by being in strong relationships with other Christians, who can know us well enough to see how we are being attacked and love us enough to stand with us.

Spiritual protection is not taken seriously enough by the twentieth century church. We tend to forget that there is a spiritual battle going on all the time. Spiritual warfare is not something that we are free to do when we choose; we are engaged in it all the time. While we know we are on the winning side because Jesus has won the victory, we must never become complacent. Our enemy is like a prowling lion, looking for someone vulnerable to devour, so we can never let down our guard (1 Peter 5:8).

In the contemporary church, there are far too many Christians (some quite mature) wandering around on their own. There is too much independence and too little submission. Submission has become a dirty word, but without submission we cannot be part of the army of God. The chapter in Ephesians on spiritual armour (6) is preceded by a chapter on submission (5). We cannot use the spiritual armour on our own. Even the shield of faith cannot cover our backs. The spiritual armour is only effective when we are standing together in submission to each other.

The Healing Process must Change

In the modern Western church most of the healing ministry is done by the pastor at the front of the church. The process is quick and dramatic, but it often fails because it is done under the wrong paradigm. Understanding the cause and solution for sickness will dramatically change the way that the Church ministers to Christians. The process will be much slower, but more thorough.

  1. Ministry to sick Christians should happen in private, often in someoneís living room. The sick person will ask some friends or the elders to come to him to pray for him (James 5:14). A lot of personal stuff may need to be dealt with, and this should be done in private. The sick person will not be prayed for at the front of the Church, in view of the entire congregation. Doing this is a distortion of the other healing stream. Publicity is fine, when using the healing gifts in evangelism, because the people will be just be healed. However, praying about the cause of sickness should be done away from the public gaze.
  2. Several people will pray with the sick person. James talks about elders (plural). There might be a team of elders and a couple of friends present. Having a healing team will be important to get all the gifts needed. This is very different from the way healing is usually done in the modern Church, where one person (usually the pastor) does all the ministry. For many situations, one person will not have sufficient faith or the necessary discernment.

Four gifts are needed for a sick person to be healed: word of knowledge, discernment, faith, healing. The Holy Spirit can give all these gifts to one person, but he prefers to give to different people so they will need to work together. This strengthens the body.

If someone gets a word of knowledge about sickness, we just assume that they should pray for the sick person. In reality, the Spirit may have given the faith to someone else in the body. For example, it may have been Johnís faith that healed the man at the beautiful gate (Acts 3:4).

  1. The gifts of discernment and word of knowledge will be more important than the gift of healing. The latter gift is more important for the evangelism. Discernment will be more powerful in a team. This is the reason why a solo minister is not appropriate when praying for Christians.
  2. The first step will be to find out the cause of the sickness. This is really important. Nothing can be done until the cause has been identified. The healing team will wait on God (for several days if necessary) until they know whether the sickness is caused by sin or by Satan. The gift of discernment and word of knowledge will be important for answering this question. Again, this is very different from the modern ministry of healing, where the first step is to pray for he person to be healed. This is really pointless if the cause is not known and is the reason why many Christians are not healed.
  3. Once the cause is known, the team can deal with it. If the cause is sin, they may need to give the person time to work through the issue. The solution to sin is repentance. However, only the Holy Spirit can produce repentance (John 16:8). The healing team will give the Holy Spirit time (often several days) to do this work. Praying for healing before repentance is complete will lead to lack of victory. Once person has repented, they may need to confess the sin to their friends or to the elders. Those who confess their sins will be healed (James 5 16).
  4. Once the person repents, the symptoms of the disease should just disappear as they lose their right to be there. However, sometimes prayer by friends or elders may be needed to shift them. When praying, the healing team will ask the Holy Spirit to restore the parts of the body that are damaged. They will command the sickness to leave, as it no longer has any authority to remain with the person. Faith will be important. The prayer of faith will make the sick person well (James 5:15).
  5. If the cause is Satanic, the process will be quite different. The emphasis will be on resisting. The healing team will join with the sick person to do battle and resist the evil attack. Faith will be really important. The key thing that the friends or elders will be able to add will be extra faith. They will exercise their authority and resist the sickness. They will speak to it by name and command it to leave in Jesus name. There will be a battle of the wills, but if the Christians know their authority, they will win.
  6. Getting complete victory may take several months. We must understand the long-term nature of warfare. Sometimes the initial attack may fail and the army may have to retreat and regroup before attacking again. Even when the army has a quick initial victory, the battle is not won. The enemy may counterattack again and again over several months, before giving up. Getting victory over sickness may take several weeks or months. Satan does not give, just because he gets one hiding. He always tries to come back. The healing team must be ready for these counter attacks. One of the healing team will keep in regular contact with the person was sick. When the sickness attacks again, they will contact the rest of the team immediately and pray against the attack. If it is a serious attack, they may all need to come together again to get victory.

    The healing team will pray continually for the person who was sick for their faith to be strengthened. They will stand against the sickness, in prayer and in Jesus name. They will speak to the sickness directly and command it to stay away. Just as earthquake tremors gradually subside, the attacks will gradually get weaker, as Satan gets tired and goes off to work somewhere else. This is very different from the process in the modern church. If a sickness returns, we just say that the person has lost their healing. The implication is usually that the person does not have enough faith and there is no solution.

Key 5: Elders who are Pastors must rediscover their Role in Healing

Since elders have such an important role in protecting the church from sickness, they should have gifts of healing in their midst. They should demonstrate this by resisting sickness in their household/family before being appointed to the position of elder. The passage on qualifications of an elder in 1 Tim 3:5 says that an elder will "care for the church". The Greek word translated as "care" is only used in one other place in the New Testament. The Good Samaritan used the same word when he asked the innkeeper to "care" for the wounded man until he was well (Luke 10:34,35). This suggests that a person should not be appointed as an elder if they do not have victory over the sickness in their family.

This is a serious challenge for elders and pastors who have sick people in churches. In Godís eyes, healing the sick is more important than preaching sermons. Ezekiel 34:1-4 contains a serious warning for pastors who allow their flock to continue in sickness. Ezekiel says that God is angry with the pastors who do not heal the sick in their flock. They should be helping those who are being attacked by enemy and setting them free.

This is a serious challenge for elders and pastors who have sick people in churches. The primary task of a pastor is not to preach, but to heal the sick. Ezekiel 34:1-4 contains a serious warning for pastors who allow their flock to continue in sickness. God is angry with the pastors who do not heal the sick in their flock. They should be helping those who are being attacked by enemy and setting them free.

When Jesus saw the people suffering from sickness and disease, he was filled with compassion for them (Matthew 9:35,36). He sawed them being harassed by Satan and said they were like sheep without a shepherd (pastor). I suspect he looks upon many sick Christians today and sees them as harassed and without a pastor. He wants to send them shepherds, who will not preach at them, but see they are healed. The key task of pastors and elders is not to preach in the pulpit, but to set people free from sickness. Pastors should be embarrassed that Satan has been able to continue to harass so many of their sheep.

False Ideas

If the church is to get victory over sickness, we need to give up some common ideas that are not true.

  1. Sickness is normal
  2. Christians have accepted sickness as normal. We believe salvation is for all, but we believe that healing is for some. We just accept colds in winter and we accept infirmity and weakness in old age. However, this is not true. There are no permanently sick Christians in the New Testament. Sickness is never something that just happens. It is caused by sin or Satan, and neither of these should be accepted as normal. Sickness is ways something to deal with. We need to get stirred up about sickness, because it is weakens the body of Christ. It cannot be normal for the body of Jesus to have sick members.

  3. Sickness is Suffering
  4. A common view is that God gives us sickness to make us holy. This is not true (sickness usually brings out the worst in me). God does allow us his people to suffer, but they should suffer for doing right or for the name of Jesus, not through sickness (1 Peter 4:12-17). In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul listed all the ways he had suffered for Jesus, but he never counted sickness as part of his suffering for the gospel.

    James 5:13,14 distinguishes very clearly between suffering and sickness. If anyone is in trouble, he should pray, but if he is sick, he should could call the elders. Trouble and sickness have different causes and different responses. They are not the same.

  5. Sickness is a Friend
  6. Many Christians welcome sickness as a friend. We have all used sickness as an excuse to avoid doing something we do not want to do, like work or meeting someone we do not like. When we do this, we are giving sickness authority in our lives. Sickness is a curse, so we should never welcome it. We should hate sickness as an enemy. Sickness is the Kingdom of Darkness intruding into our lives, so we should hate it with passion.

    We should be very careful about how we talk about sickness.

    No one living in Zion will say, "I am ill" (Isaiah 33:24).

    I should not say, "I have the flu". This is submitting to it and giving it authority in my life. I would be claiming something from the devil for myself. It would be more correct to say, "I am being attacked by the flu". I should not say, "I am getting a cold", as this is prophesying something I should hate. I should say "I am being attacked by a cold, but I am resisting it.

  7. Sickness causes Death
  8. Most Christians assume that they will live until they get a sickness that cannot be cured. Death comes when serious sickness strikes. This view is incorrect. There is a time to die for everyone, but the death of a Christian should occur, when their work on earth is complete, not when sickness gets the better of them. Moses is a good example of this. He died when he had led the people to the Promised Land and his work was complete. Christians should die in glory like Moses, when their service to God is finished.

    Isaiah prophesied a time when everyone would live a full lifespan.

    Never again will there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not live out his years;
    he who dies at a hundred
    will be thought a mere youth;
    he who fails to reach a hundred
    will be considered accursed (Isaiah 65:20,21).

    This passage is not speaking about heaven, because people still die. The difference will be that one hundred years will normal and anyone who does not reach one hundred will be  considered accursed. For Isaiah, this promise was still in the future, but the ministry of Jesus has made it possible for us. Now that Jesus has dealt with sickness, we should be claiming this promise in him. There is nothing more that he can do in the future, so we should expect this passage to be fulfilled now. Some people may still die young, but it should only be because their work on earth is finished and God wants them to be with him.

    This also means that we should be careful not to hold people back when their lives are complete. We can do this by praying for healing. This prayer is not appropriate if Godís purpose for them on earth is complete.

  9. God causes sickness
  10. The Greek words translated as sickness are all negative.

    asthenia   weak

    kakos       evil

    malakia    soft

    arrosem    feeble

    God does not want Christians to be weak, soft or feeble. Therefore, I should never say,
         It is not Godís will for me to be healed, or
          God sent me this sickness.

    I can say,
         I donít have enough faith to resist this attack of sickness.
         I cannot deal with this sickness on my own.
         My pastor does not have enough faith
         I still have sin that I need to deal with.
         My church does not have victory over sickness

    The most that can be said is that God turns sickness for good, but then he even uses evil for good. However, the fact that God uses evil for good, does not stop it from being evil. Paulís visit to Galatia was the result of sickness (Galatians 4:13,14). He described it as weakness of the flesh and was embarrassed about being sick. He would not have been surprised if the Galations has despised him. However, he did not say that the sickness was Godís will, although God used it to accomplish his purposes.

    Some Christians when explaining why they have not been healed say, "God is sovereign". The irony is that they never say, "Jesus is sovereign" in this same context. The reason is that these words just do not fit with the New Testament description of Jesus. He never refused to heal anyone who came in faith. We cannot imagine him saying, "God is sovereign, so I cannot be sure if you will be healed". He never said, "It is not Godís will for you to be healed.

    When the leper asked to be healed, Jesus said, "I am willing" (Mark 1:40-42). This settles the argument. Many Christians believe in principle that Jesus defeated sickness on the cross, but they are not sure if God will do it for them. The record of leper is there to teach us a principle: God is willing to heal. If he is unable to heal, the reasons will be in the church.

  11. Covering

Inadequate spiritual protection is one of greatest causes of sickness in the church. Part of the problem is the many Christians have been deceived by a false doctrine of "covering". This doctrine states that we are covered and protected from evil and sickness by submitting to a pastor or being part of a church. However, there are several problems with this doctrine.

  • The doctrine of covering is not taught explicitly in the scriptures, it is based on an allegorical interpretation of Boazí garment in the book of Ruth and the cloud in Exodus. Trusting in a vague and ambiguous doctrine of spiritual protection is dangerous.
  • The covering doctrine makes spiritual protection into something magical. Belonging to a church does not automatically guarantee a person is protected from attack. In reality, protection comes from being in relationship with Christians who recognise an attack and will battle through to victory with us.
  • A pastor can only provide protection that is as good as his own. Modern Christians do not realise that the pastors/leaders they trust are extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack themselves, so they cannot provide strong protection. Pastors and elder who donít have victory over sickness cannot provide protection to their people.

Christians everywhere are being decimated by evil because they do not understand the real nature of spiritual protection. Spiritual protection is critical for protection against sickness.

  1. Putting our Experience before Godís Word
  2. Sickness among Christians is not proof that God does not heal. God dealt with my sin on the cross. The fact that I still sin does not imply that God does not save us from sin. It just shows that I am a bit slow to take up the salvation that Jesus had earned for me. The problem is with me, not with the cross. In the same way the fact that I am sick does not imply that God does not heal. The problem is with me (or more likely the church).

  3. God will heal us if we pray enough

Many Christians have been praying earnestly for healing but their prayer not been answered. Many pastors have been praying for people who go forward at their meetings to be healed, without getting victory. The problem is that we have our spiritual wires crossed. The correct pattern is as follows.

Non-Christian

Christian

Healing is based on Grace

Needs a Gift of Healing

Healing is Gift from God

Healing part of the covenant

Needs a spiritual victory

Getting what is already ours.

Most Christians are using the wrong method when they deal with sickness. We are trying to use the gifts of healing for Christians, when we should be using them for the lost in evangelism. Christians are asking God to heal them, when he has already done everything that is necessary for salvation (healing). Christians should not be asking God or to heal them. They do not need to plead with Jesus for healing. He has already provided healing for us when he was whipped and beaten. We do not have to ask for it, but we do need to appropriate what he has already been given to us. We receive what is our by faith. We also need learn to resist Satan, standing in faith.

God has given us authority over sickness, and Satan (Matt 10:1). We need to understand that authority:

  • Christians have authority over sickness in their bodies
  • Fathers have authority over sickness in their family
  • Christians have authority to heal unbelievers
  • Elders have authority against sickness in believers.
  • If we resist the devil together, he will flee.

Instead of asking God to heal us, we should be using our authority to get rid of sickness.

Key 6: Faith

Faith is the key to claiming our inheritance. The scriptures teach that we receive everything that Jesus established by faith (Eph 2:8). Faith receives the promise of God (Heb 11:11,12). Lack of faith is a serious problem for the modern church and the reason we receive so little. Jesus called his generation an unbelieving generation (Matt 17:17,19-20). In many ways the same description applies to the modern church. We are also an unbelieving generation.

There is a certain perversity in our lack of faith. Christians have faith in a lot of odd things:

  • Copper bracelets,
  • Bee venom,
  • Oils
  • Magnetic blankets

It is common to hear Christian talk of their favourite cure, but we seldom hear them saying what God can do. Some of the things we trust do work for a time. Satan is quite happy to take away the symptoms for a while, to get us to trust in something other than God. However, in the end, the only way to deal with a satanic attack is to stand against him holding the shield of faith. Like the man beside the pool, Christians are looking to other things, when they should be looking to Jesus (John 5:7).

Faith is not belief in the truth of healing. We can believe in healing, and not have faith to receive healing. Faith is not desire to be healed. Faith is a certainty deep in our being that God will do what he has promised. It is an inner certainty that is a gift from God (Eph 2:8).

According to Romans 10:9, faith has two aspects. It begins with belief in the heart. What is in the heart is then manifested in some word or action.

Faith = {Believe in heart

            {Confess with lips

The Greek word for confess is "homologesis". It literally means "same word". When confessing we agree with Godís word.

Faith is certainty in the heart, but faith also require some action to make it real. Faith without action is just a rattling gong (James 2:17,18). This can be seen in the healings described in Matthew 8,9. The person being healed always said something or took some action to demonstrate the faith in their heart. Usually the action was a declaration of faith.

  • The leper said to Jesus, "You can make me clean!"
  • The centurion told Jesus not to come, but just say a word.
  • The ruler with a dead daughter said, "Put your hand on her and she will live."
  • The bleeding woman touched Jesus garment.
  • The blind men said, "Yes!", when he asked if he was able to heal them.

Each person made a public confession or took an action that demonstrated their faith.

Believing in the heart must come first. If we have faith, action will follow; but action will not produce faith. Confessing or acting without faith is presumption. Faith comes from God. We must receive faith from him before we can do anything. Faith overcomes fear.

Fear of sickness is something that we have to deal with. The word cancer really strikes fear in peopleís hearts. The trouble is that fear kills faith (Luke 8:50). As faith grows, fear will be squeezed out.

Symptoms

Abraham showed the correct way to deal with symptoms.

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God (Rom 4:19,20).

Abraham faced his symptoms squarely. He did not pretend they were not there. He faced the facts, but did not waver through unbelief. He was not weakened, but was strengthened in his faith in the promise of God, despite his symptoms declaring the opposite to be true.

Increasing Faith

The first step is for the church is to be honest about its lack of faith. We should not pretend, or go into condemnation, but should look to God for a solution. There are several we can do.

  1. We can pray for faith (Mark 9:21-24). The Holy Spirit will increase our faith if we ask.
  2. We should immerse ourselves in the biblical accounts of Jesusí healing. Faith comes from hearing the Word (Rom 10:17). As we feed on the promises of God, our faith will grow.
  3. We should seek to be filled with the Spirit. Faith is a gift from the Spirit (1 Cor 12:9), so the Holy Spirit is the source of faith. Stephen and Barnabas were men who were full of the Spirit and Faith (Acts 6:5,8; 11:24). People who are full of the Spirit will also be full of faith.
  4. We should start on easy things. As we rejoice in small victories, our faith will increase. Seeing miracles increases faith (John 2:23).
  5. We should get with other Christians to pray. Christians should work in a group. There are several reasons for this.
    • There is power in agreement. Jesus promised that when two or three people work together, he would be with them (Matt 18:19,20, Acts 3:4,5).
    • Faith is strongest when we function with other Christians we trust. Peter and John had faith to heal the lame man, because they were operating together (Acts 3:4).
    • Working in a group releases the gifts of Spirit. Four gifts are needed for a sick person to be healed: word of knowledge, discernment, faith, healing. The Holy Spirit can give all these gifts to one person, but he prefers to give to different people so they will need to work together. This strengthens the body.

Disappointed Christians

Many Christians have sought healing for a long time. Most have had prayer that did not heal. In some churches the same disappointed people are being for over and over again, with nothing happening. These people often have a deep sense of disappointment and some have been hurt by an accusation of lack of faith. Some have given up all hope of being healed. The result is an enormous backlog of disappointment and hurt that needs to be dealt with.

When praying with sick Christians, we must deal with the consequences. If nothing happens, we must find out why and deal with it. We must not dump the responsibility on the sick person. Elders have a particular responsibility in dealing with this problem. If we just leave the person unhealed, they will feel that they do not enough faith or that God does not love them. They will end up feeling condemned. This leaves them vulnerable and undermines the faith of the church.

Sickness can be hard to handle. We must not pretend it is easy. If we cannot get victory over sickness, the church and especially the elders should accept responsibility. We must stop dumping failure on people who are sick. There are many Christians who long to be healed. They have prayed and tried to believe. They should not be condemned. The failure lies with a Church that has been robbed of its inheritance.

The time has come for this burden to be lifted off the sick and put back where it belongs. The first step is for the church as a whole to take responsibility for its lack of faith and failure to get victory over sickness. We can then seek God for his solutions. Godís people should get together and battle through to victory, until we receive the wholeness that Jesus established on the cross.

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