WFTW Body: 

Sickness is one of the courses in our spiritual education that we have to graduate in, before we complete our earthly journey. Jesus, our Forerunner, also graduated in this course. Let us look at the Scriptures with an unprejudiced mind:

Isaiah 53:3 says, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was " (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Sickness comes to man, because of the curse upon this earth. As a result, we also perspire and are hurt by thorns, etc., (See Gen.3:17-19). When Jesus came to this sin-cursed earth, His body also perspired and was hurt by thorns - and He also became sick at times. The Bible says that Jesus was "acquainted with sickness" (Isaiah 53:3 - Amplified Bible - Literal translation). (*See Note below)

In order to experience all that we experience physically, Jesus had to experience sickness too. Such suffering was part of His earthly education (Heb.5:8). It is a great comfort for us to know this fact, when we are sick - just as it is a comfort for us when we are tempted severely, to know that Jesus too was tempted in all points as we are (Heb.4:15).

And so, God allows us also to be "acquainted with sickness" as a part of our spiritual education. And when we are sick, our Lord wants us "to overcome as He overcame" - not to have any self-pity, not to seek for sympathy, not to make any demands on anyone, never to murmur or be gloomy, but to be bright and cheerful at all times, praising and thanking the Lord (Rev.3:21). May we live like that all our days on earth. His grace is sufficient for that.

The fact that Jesus also became sick at times proves conclusively that sickness is not always due to sin - because Jesus was sinless. Praise the Lord that we have in Jesus, a wonderful Forerunner, Who can sympathize not only with our temptations but also with our sicknesses!

Paul and his co-workers, Timothy, Epaphroditus and Trophimus also graduated in this "sickness" course in their spiritual education on earth (See 2 Cor.12:7-9; 1 Tim.5:23; Phil.2:27; 2 Tim.4:20).

God stopped Paul in the Galatian region once through sickness, because He wanted Paul to preach the gospel and plant churches there. Paul was initially planning to move through Galatia to Asia Minor, but we read that he was "restrained by the Holy Spirit" from moving away from Galatia (Acts 16:6). This restraint of the Spirit was not through a supernatural vision, but through God allowing Paul to be sick in Galatia, so that he could not travel on. We see this clearly in his letter to the Galatian Christians, where he says that the reason he stopped in Galatia to preach to them was because he was sick (Gal.4:14,15),!

Another reason why God allows us to be sick (at times) is so that we can sympathize better with others in the world who are sick. Otherwise we would know nothing of what many in the world go through.

But God also heals us in His mercy (Phil.2:25-27). As God cared for Jesus, He will care for us too. So we can ask for healing when we are sick.

But we cannot claim total freedom from sickness like we can claim total freedom from sin.

Did Jesus die for the redemption of our total person - spirit, soul and body? Yes, He certainly did.

But we must face reality and not live in a world of illusion and delusion.

The effect of Christ's redemption has begun right now only in the spirit of one who is born again. There, in our spirit, we have been raised from the dead and made a new creation (Eph.2:1-6; 2 Cor.5:17).

But our soul (mind, emotion and will) and body are not made new as yet. We have yet to get the full benefit of Christ's work on the cross in those two areas. Our mind can be renewed slowly and progressively, if we allow the Holy Spirit to change our value system from the world's viewpoint to God's (Rom.12:2).

Our body however will be transformed only when Christ returns ( Phil.3:21 states that very clearly). When Christ returns, our body will enjoy full resurrection life - no sickness and no death. But God allows us even now, in His mercy, to taste a little bit, of "the powers of the age to come" in our body occasionally (Heb.6:5) - a taste of His supernatural healing power. This is how many believers have experienced healing from their sicknesses supernaturally. And this is why God has gifted some in Christ's body with the gifts of healing and miracles.

But healing of the body is totally within God's sovereign will and we cannot dictate to Him as to who should be healed. Nor can we claim it whenever we like, as a right, here and now - just like we can claim total forgiveness of all our sins, through repentance, confession and faith in Christ's death for us.

The clearest proof that we cannot claim healing as a right and that the effect of the curse on our bodies is not taken away when we are saved, is seen in the fact that all believers finally die, no matter how much people pray and claim healing and life for them! Sickness and death are the results of the curse on the earth, just like perspiration, physical tiredness and sleepiness. These will all affect our bodies until Christ returns. While our spirits have already been redeemed from the curse (Gal.3:13,14), our body being of dust, is still affected by the curse on the dust of the earth.

What about Isaiah 53:5 which says: "By His scourging (stripes) we are healed" ? Let us not give our own interpretation to that verse, but look at the interpretation the Holy Spirit Himself gives for this verse in the New Testament:

In 1 Peter 2:24 we read: "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed".

It is crystal clear from this verse that the "healing" referred to here is "healing from sin" and the "health" we receive as a result is "righteousness". This is further proved by the context of the paragraph in which this verse is found, which is talking about following Jesus Who did not sin.

What about Isaiah 53:4 which says, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried" , which is quoted in Matthew 8:16 17 thus: "When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, 'He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.'"

It is again crystal clear from this passage that this prophecy was fulfilled right there and then, at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. It was not something that was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross later, as many claim. This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus healed the sick. It is not a promise that Jesus has taken away all our sicknesses on the cross.

So what shall we do when we are sick? Let us follow Paul's example. He prayed for healing from his "thorn in the flesh". He finally heard God telling him that the thorn would not be removed but He would get God's grace to overcome (2 Cor.12:7-9). In the case of Epaphroditus, Paul kept on praying and God in mercy healed him fully (Phil.2:27). In the case of Trophimus however, despite Paul's prayer, he was not healed (2 Tim.4:20). In the case of Timothy, Paul must have prayed for him numerous times. But Timothy continued to suffer from his stomach's sickness. So Paul finally told him to take some wine as medicine (1 Tim.5:23) .

So we must always pray for healing from every sickness with the prayer that if it is not God's will to heal, then He should give us grace - whichever of the two He decides is better for us.

This is the balanced teaching of Scripture. If we love the truth, we will observe that there are sick believers in every single Christian group - whatever their theology of healing may be. But many shut their eyes to this fact because they are prejudiced.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

*Note: The Hebrew word "choliy" translated in Isaiah 53:3 as "griefs" (in most English translations) actually means "sickness" or "disease". The same word is correctly translated as "sickness" in Deut.7:15; Deut.28:61; and Isaiah 1:5. But most translators probably could not believe that Jesus would ever have been sick and so they did not translate the word accurately in Isaiah 53:3. Instead, they used their own theology to translate this Hebrew word as "griefs"!! Only the Holman Bible and the Amplified Bible (quoted above) have dared to give the correct translation of this Hebrew word as "sickness". The clearest proof that the meaning of the Hebrew word "choliy" is "sickness" is seen when we see how the same word is used in the next verse (Isaiah 53:4). Here in the Hebrew, it is translated again as "griefs". But when this verse is quoted in the New Testament in Matthew 8:17 it is translated there as "astheneia" (Greek) meaning diseases/sicknesses). [ See: ]