Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sickness and Sinning...Part 2

Be sure to read part 1 of Sickness and Sinning posted yesterday.

Consider lessons that we can learn from the miracle of healing seen in Acts 3:1-10 involving Peter and John. They came across a man who was lame from birth (over 40 years...Acts 4:22). He was taken daily to the gate of the Temple to beg for alms. It was the 9th hour (3pm) which was the busiest time at the temple as people came to give. He was not part of the early church at this time. As you read the book of Acts you will find that healing in Acts almost always occurs in the crowd, not in the church.

This man is asking for alms with no thought of being healed. This tells me that, contrary to much popular teaching today, healing is not based solely on our faith, but it is always based on the sovereignty of God. The Apostles have no money to give this lame man. Instead, they command him to walk in the name of Jesus. He not only gets strength in his legs, but he receives perfect coordination. This shows us that healing in the Bible was instantaneous and complete. Progressive healing is not seen in Acts.

Let me emphasize again that healing in the book of Acts was not based solely on the power of an individual or the faith of a sick person, but rather on the sovereignty of God. In the story of the lame man in Acts 3, we see the sovereignty of God in two ways. First, Jesus would have without doubt walked past this same lame man numerous times on His way in and out of the temple but He never chose to heal him. Second, though many other people with infirmities would have been present, no other beggar is recorded as also being healed. Divine healing is based on the sovereignty of God.

Back to James 5, James now makes a specific connection between the sickness and sin. He states that if the sick person has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Since we all have sinned, this must refer to a specific sin which has caused the illness. Please understand that all illness is not due to sin, but some can be. In the Jewish mind of that day it was believed, as it is in many circles today, that all sickness was due to sin. You see this in the question of the disciples when they passed the man born blind and asked Jesus who sinned, the blind man or his parents resulting in his being born without vision. Remember Jesus’ answer? He said that neither the blind man nor his parents sinned but rather he was born with this infirmity so that God would be glorified. James is speaking in this passage of sickness that is the result of sin. He says that if the illness is due to sin and prayer and confession takes place, God promises to heal and to forgive.

The bottom line to the whole passage is that of TRUST. When we are seriously ill we should call for the leaders of the church to anoint us and pray for us. When we are seriously ill we should examine our lives and confess any sin that God reveals to us. When we are seriously ill we should trust God’s will. God will do one of three things and whatever it is that is His will can be trusted to be perfect in purpose and timing. He may choose to heal us. However, as in the case with Paul’s thorn in the flesh, He may choose to give us the grace to endure the sickness. He also may use the sickness to take us home to heaven, which after all, is the ultimate healing.

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