How do you minister healing to a person whose sickness is caused by sin?
For example, what if the person has diabetes because she is a glutton? What if the person has AIDS because he was promiscuous? What if the person has liver disease because of years of drunkenness? Sickness and sin are intertwined, which naturally raises questions for those of us who believe God is just and righteous (which He is).
When sin causes sickness, do we minister healing the same way as when it’s just an ordinary issue?
The answer is yes for several reasons, and I’m going to share five of them with you here. I expect that by the end of this article, you’ll be confident that Jesus wants to heal even when the person deserves to be sick.
Reason 1: All Sickness is Caused by Sin
God told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed Him, they would surely die. As we all know, they did disobey God, but they didn’t die immediately. That’s because God’s mercy grants us time to repent. However, they went from living eternally (as they ate from the tree of life) to living temporarily (as sickness and disease entered the world). Since that time, mankind has been living in a fallen world where demons run amok and human bodies deteriorate. But Jesus came into the world “to destroy the devil’s work.” (See 1 John 3:8.) He came with good news of another Kingdom, and He demonstrated that good news with authority and power.
Acts 10:38 — And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (NLT)
I should clarify that a person’s sickness is not evidence that they have personally sinned. In the case of the man born blind, Jesus was clear that “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…” (See John 9:3.) When I say that all sickness is caused by sin, I’m pointing to what happened in the Garden of Eden.
Reason 2: NOBODY Deserves Healing
Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death,” and Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of us deserve to die immediately, but God is rich in mercy and abounding in love. Even though we deserve death, Jesus died in our place. And even though we deserve to die immediately, God has allowed us to live in this fallen world so that we might come to Him. (See Acts 17:27.)
The fact is, none of us deserve to be healed, and it doesn’t matter what caused our condition — be it sin, injury, wear and tear, demons, diet, or anything else. I don’t minister healing because people deserve to be healed. I minister healing because the Jesus I love deserves to receive everything He paid for.
Romans 5:8 — But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
Reason 3: Jesus Didn’t Only Pay for Sin; He Paid for the Effects of Sin
I enjoy reading the Amplified Bible because it tends to squeeze extra meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew words in the text. Here is the Amplified paraphrase of Isaiah’s prophecy regarding Jesus:
Isaiah 53:4-5 — Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. (AMP)
Jesus’ sacrifice paid for both sin and sickness. He even took our “pains of punishment,” which means that even if a person believes they are being punished for their sin, Jesus already took that at the cross in their place. This leaves no legitimate excuse for suffering from a sickness or disease.
When we participate in Communion, or The Lord’s Supper, we look to two elements: The body and blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus was shed for our forgiveness from sin. (See Matthew 26:28, Ephesians 1:7, and Hebrews 9:22.) But if the blood was enough to pay for our forgiveness, then what’s the point of remembering His body? Simple: The body of Jesus was broken to pay for the effects of sin. As we have seen, the effects of sin include sickness and disease. “By His stripes, we are healed.”
1 Corinthians 11:29-30 — For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. (NIV)
In other words, the Lord’s broken body was meant to keep us from being weak or sick. It was meant to keep us from dying prematurely. If we ignore the purchase made by His body, we neglect the gift that was made available. Praise God for the forgiveness made possible by His blood! But that is not the only thing Jesus purchased… Receive His healing as well!
Reason 4: God Wants the Person to “Taste and See” that He is Good
In speaking about demons, Jesus said this:
Matthew 12:43-45 — “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (NIV)
I used to wonder why Jesus would cast demons out of so many people if He knew that it was so normal for the demons to return and put the person in a worse condition. Then I realized something: Demons make people extremely uncomfortable in their sin. When Jesus would cast out a demon, he was giving the person a taste of freedom so that they could make a clear decision about repenting toward God. They now had experience with both freedom and bondage. Thus, they could make an educated choice for their lives: Leave the “house” in tact by living the same lifestyle, or demolish the “house” by surrendering to God and allowing Him to guard against the enemy.
Considering the eternal reality of hell, this “permission” for demons to influence people is actually an expression of God’s mercy. If one demon wasn’t enough to convince the person to repent, maybe eight demons will be enough to convince them! God does not want anyone to perish. (See 2 Peter 3:9.) So even if a person doesn’t want to repent, God’s will is still that they be set free from their condition so that they can at least experience the love offered by the One they’re rejecting.
Psalm 34:8 — Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (NIV)
When Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, He gave the following instruction: “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (See John 5:14.) Ministering healing is our responsibility. Walking in freedom is the responsibility of the recipient.
Reason 5: Healing is a Promise of God’s Power to Save
Throughout Scripture, we see forgiveness and healing mentioned in tandem. Consider, for instance, the paralytic who was lowered through the roof to the feet of Jesus. The Lord forgave him first and then healed him as evidence of His authority to forgive sins. (See Mark 2:1-12.) Consider also Psalm 103:2-3, which says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…”
…and that was under the OLD covenant!
Of particular interest to this topic is the instruction of James:
James 5:14-16a — Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed… (NIV)
First, James says to pray for healing, and the natural byproduct will be that the person’s sins are forgiven. Then he says to confess sins first so that healing can happen.
Which is it?
I like to say that the blood of Jesus is messy — get a little on you for any reason, and it’s sure to spread! It doesn’t matter which comes first — forgiveness or healing — if you have received one, the other is available as well! What Jesus did to sin, He also did to sickness and disease.
If you’re certain that God has forgiven you, then you can consider your “assurance of salvation” as a guarantee that God also wants to heal you! He paid the same price for both. In the same way, if you have been healed, it is evidence that God has forgiven you of your sins and does not keep a record of wrong. (See John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Corinthians 5:19; and 1 John 2:2.)
You don’t have to confess anything to receive healing — the paralytic who was lowered through the roof did not confess anything at all…neither did the rest of the people Jesus healed. Likewise, you don’t have to be healed in order to be forgiven. Forgiveness and healing function independently; but because they both flow from the same sacrifice, it is expected for them to come hand in hand — one following the other.
So if a person’s sickness is caused by sin, minister healing. The result, according to James, is that the sin will be instantly forgiven! And if a person with a sickness or disease comes to you confessing sin and seeking God’s forgiveness, it’s a great time to minister healing as a way to illustrate God’s goodwill toward him or her.
Sickness and Sin have No Authority
Sin does not have the authority to demand a place in a person’s life. Jesus conquered sin. If sin has no authority, then it has no authority to grant to sickness! Therefore, sin cannot grant sickness the authority to remain in a person’s life. Jesus conquered sin and sickness with the same blow. Neither sin nor sickness has any authority when confronted with the name of Jesus and the faith that comes through Him. The only authority either has is what has been granted by Christians who believe God to be less powerful than a person’s mistakes.
Minister healing to all without concern for why the person is sick. And once the person is healed, proclaim the forgiveness of God to them. If they are willing to accept that forgiveness and repent, then the condition will not return. But if they continue to engage in the sin that caused the sickness or disease, then they have made their own choice. Your responsibility is not to police who is allowed to be healed and who isn’t. Your responsibility is to represent Jesus, and Jesus healed everyone who came to Him.