Four Biblical Truths About Sickness and Death

 

Why do people get sick? This is one of the most pressing questions when it comes to healing, and it must be answered by using the Scriptures. Opinions and abuses abound, so the only way to address this question is to cement ourselves in the truth of God’s unchanging Word.

I’ve seen it time and time again, and I’m sure you have too. A world-renowned faith healer hits the news after promising to heal people, but only if they pay up first. Some even go so far as to say that God is going to pour down judgment on people if they don’t give a certain amount of money. These “healers” appear to have all the answers for sickness. Years ago I sat through many services in which a faith healer explained to people why they were sick. Some people were told that they weren’t giving enough money, others apparently were not forgiving people, and others had been spending time with negative people. Not only that but some were said to be sick because they just didn’t have enough faith. This sort of guesswork breaks hearts, leads lives astray, and spiritually abuses desperate people.

Thankfully, the Bible breaks such deceptive bondage. If you’ve ever been confused about why people get sick or you know someone who needs answers, the following truths will be a soothing balm to a weary soul.

Truth 1: Sickness and Death Entered the World through Original Sin

On the sixth day of creation, the Bible tells us,

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. — Genesis 1:31

Notice it doesn’t say “some of what He had made was very good.” It says all. There was no sin in the world, sickness did not exist, and Adam and Eve were set to enjoy a flawless life complete with a perfect relationship with God.

Instead they were deceived by the serpent and disobeyed the one command God had given them to follow. This is what is called “original sin,” because it was the first sin the world had ever known, and it resulted in a fractured relationship between God and His creation (Genesis 3:1-19).

Because of sin, fear and shame came upon humanity (Genesis 3:7, Genesis 3:10), marital relationships experience conflict (Genesis 3:16), women experience pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), and work became incredibly difficult (Genesis 3:17-18). Worst of all, death entered the scene and humankind would return to dust (Genesis 3:19). Sickness and death are the result of sin and the fallen world we live in. Because of sin, we need a savior. And while true Christianity looks forward to that day when Jesus will return and restore all things, until then we must realize that sickness and death are part of this temporary life. Thankfully, eternal life knows nothing of such things.

Truth 2: Sickness and Death Can Strike Us Because of Our Own Sin

Using the Bible again, let’s face the truth that sickness and death can strike us through our sin. In 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Paul says that taking communion in an unworthy manner is the reason why some people are weak, sick, or “asleep” (a biblical expression for death). This is a statement made directly to the New Testament church. Taking communion unworthily includes not taking it seriously, not examining oneself as Paul instructs (1 Corinthians 11:28), having impure motives, having unconfessed deliberate sin, and being embittered and unforgiving toward others (the very opposite of what communion represents, since we’ve been forgiven).

Another reason why sickness and death can result from sin is based on the law of consequences, the idea that “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). If you do drugs, drink and drive, act foolishly and belligerently, take poor care of your body, engage in rampant and casual sex outside of marriage, might you not at some point experience sickness or death (often prematurely)? Sin often does lead to these things. Therefore when we examine our lives and the reason for some unfortunate experiences, we must be sure to know the difference between what is self-inflicted sickness or death and what is a genuine trial or tribulation that we did nothing to cause (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5). Should you find yourself convicted by the Holy Spirit concerning sin that is causing your sickness, take hold of Jesus’ beautiful grace. Confess your sin and He will forgive you and cleanse you (1 John 1:9), and then you should go to the elders of your church and ask them to pray for you, as well as confess your sin and be honest with them about your situation (James 5:13-16). God’s Word says that in this context, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power” (James 5:16 ESV).

Truth 3: Sickness and Death Are Not Always the Result of Our Sin

It’s impossible to diagnose the reason for everyone’s sickness, but we could certainly say that most if not all of God-loving, sin-confessing, Jesus-believing Christians who are sick fall into this third category. If original sin isn’t the only culprit, then a certain situation in Jesus’ ministry can shed some light on why some are sick. The Gospel of John recounts the story.

As [Jesus] went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. — John 9:1-7

This story is an incredible lesson to all of us that what we might think is the reason for sickness isn’t always the reason. Our finite human wisdom gets us only so far. Jesus makes it clear that God’s purposes and ways are far above our pay grade and that we do not control His plan and schedule. Sometimes God allows certain things or determines how long a circumstance will last so He can showcase His infinite power and wisdom and reveal more of Himself to us. We wouldn’t praise Him for His mercy if we weren’t aware of His wrath. We wouldn’t appreciate His love for sinners if we didn’t realize His hatred of sin. In the same way, we couldn’t begin to glorify Him for His healing hand if we didn’t experience (or see) sickness.

This leads to the fourth and final truth. Buckle up. You may not like it — at first.

Truth 4: God Can Use Sickness and Death for His Glory and the Good of Others

Just because God is not the cruel originator of sickness does not mean He can’t use it. He is God, and nothing is outside of His scope of authority. Sin may have brought sickness into this world, but

God gets the final word.

You might be thinking I’ve lost my mind to think that God could somehow bring something good out of sickness, but before you give up on me, let’s dig deeper. For starters, nowhere in Scripture do we find God to be a cosmic abuser who gets joy out of striking His children with sickness in the name of growth and glory. That is not what this truth means. However, the Bible does give us a hopeful perspective about sickness, suffering, trials, and even death that helps us sift through the broken pieces these often leave at our feet.

God is strong enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to bring purpose out of our pain, even if He doesn’t take us out of the pain right away.

You and I experience this more often than we realize. Whenever someone we know dies, it can lead either to bitterness toward God or to our appreciation of the gift of relationships and the life we’ve been given. Of course, the grieving process may be arduous, but He never leaves us there alone. Furthermore, our grief often matures us to a place where we are able to encourage and support others when they go through what we have gone through.

Romans 8:28 says,

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

This passage is often thrown around as a broad promise that everything is going to turn out the way we want it to. But God wants us to understand important truths from it before we jump to conclusions. First, “all things” means the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think sometimes we miss that fact and jump right to thinking, “God is going to make everything perfect.” God doesn’t promise that nothing bad will happen to us, but He does promise that all those things “work together for good” (ESV). And remember, whose definition of good are we talking about here? His! Which means that however God chooses to define good is what is ultimately best, even if we don’t always understand it at the time. “All things” includes a cancer diagnosis, and “good” could mean that you are going to pray more than ever before and be closer to Jesus than you’ve ever been. “All things” includes losing a loved one, and “good” could be the opportunity you have to share the hope and saving love of Jesus Christ at the funeral. “All things” includes the loss of a child, and “good” could mean the beginning of a ministry to parents who are grieving the loss of children.

The ability to surrender our lives to Jesus is the mark of spiritual maturity.

The right perspective on who Jesus is will cause us to raise our hands in surrender, saying, “Jesus, this situation hurts and I don’t know all the answers, but I know that You can take pain and turn it into purpose. So have Your way. Thy will be done. You are the potter; I am the clay. Turn this situation around so that it brings blessing to others and glory to Your name. Whatever that looks like is fine with me.”

These four biblical truths are helpful, but they are also extremely humbling. In the end, we won’t always have the answers, but we can certainly have the Answer. Jesus can and will cause anything and everything to work out for good. We must remember what that means.

Adapted from More Than a Healer: Not the Jesus You Want, but the Jesus You Need by Costi W. Hinn.

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Your Turn

Painfully, sickness and death are part of this temporary life because of original sin. Sickness and death can happen because of sin, but not always. No matter what, we can always trust that God is in control and He can use every situation for good and for His glory. Amen! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily

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