|by Lee Underwood
When told their being attacked by a disease or suffering from sickness, many Christians reply, "I refuse to accept that", or something to that effect. The belief is that if they don't acknowledge ("accept") the sickness then they will not be sick. There are literally thousands of Bible-believing Christians who believe and practice this concept. This would give the appearance that it has a Biblical basis, but does it? Do we see anybody in the Scriptures refusing to acknowledge sickness or disease and then being healed from it? Let's examine the Scriptures and see what they say, or do not say, regarding this practice.
The Scriptures are full of testimonies of healings provided by God through Jesus, the apostles, and many others. Through these healings God was glorified in many awesome ways. Generally, it was fairly simple: the person became sick; he acknowledged the attack he was suffering; he called out to the Lord; he believed the Lord would heal him; and he was healed. A few examples are: A leper came to Jesus and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean" (Matthew 8.2); a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years believed she would be healed if she could just touch Jesus' tzit tzits (Mark 5.28); two blind men cried out to be healed (Matthew 9.27-31); "and great multitudes came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them" (Matthew 15.30).
Many of those who were sick didn't even call out to be healed; sometimes their friends or relatives cried out on their behalf. A centurion came to Jesus interceding on behalf of his servant (Matthew 8.6); the friends of a crippled man brought him to Jesus (Mark 2.3); a Gentile woman cried out for her daughter to be healed (Matthew 15.22-28). In one instance some people brought a deaf man to Jesus (Mark 7.32-35) and in another they brought a blind man.
This is only a short list of the many people that were healed by Jesus. The one thing all of these people have in common is that not one of them denied that they, or the person they were interceding for, were suffering from sickness or disease. There's no record of anyone being healed after denying that he was sick when he was, in fact, sick. In fact, there's no record in Scripture of any one denying he was sick, so as to "refuse it".
The Origin of 'Rejecting' Sickness
The teaching that as believers we can "reject" sickness comes mainly from the Charismatic Movement and the Word of Faith ("positive confession") Movement. It comes from teachers such as Benny Hinn, Frederick K.C. Price, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, and Kenneth Copeland. They teach that any sickness or disease that a believer might suffer was removed at the cross along with their sins; in other words, that the healing of their physical bodies is a part of the atonement. The reason believers suffer from sickness, they teach, is because they do not have enough faith: "The Bible declares that the work was done 2,000 years ago. God is not going to heal you now - He healed you 2,000 years ago". (Benny Hinn, Rise and Be Healed, Orlando, FL, Celebration Publishers, 1991). While the spiritual aspect of this is true, our flesh is still subjected to a fallen world. Reality has to be faced even by the Word of Faith leaders: Frederick K.C. Price may proclaim "we don't allow sickness in our home," but his wife suffered from the ravages of cancer; Kenneth Hagin bragged that he didn't have a headache, the flu, or even "one sick day" in nearly 60 years, but he suffered four cardiovascular crises; Paul Crouch may have healed Oral Roberts of chest pains on a TBN broadcast, but it didn't stop Roberts from experiencing a heart attack a few hours later. Word of Faith teachers have a wrong view of faith: instead of trusting in God as its object, it's a metaphysical force in which they trust.(1)
The Atonement of the Soul; not the Flesh
Scripture doesn't teach that Jesus died for the healing of our flesh; rather He died for the healing of our souls, to cleanse us of our sins (Romans 4.7; Colossians 1.13-14; 1 Peter 2.24, 3.18; 1 John 2.2, 4.10). The atonement speaks of the spiritual, i.e., eternal life, the soul. The flesh can never be redeemed (otherwise Paul would not continually speak of crucifying it). A misunderstood concept in Christian teaching is the fact that Jesus died for our souls, not our flesh. Our flesh will never get better. It continues to rot. (If our flesh had indeed also been redeemed, we would then live forever in these fleshly bodies.) We live in a fallen world. There are diseases and plagues all around us; many of them brought on by the judgment of God (i.e., Revelation 16.2), others caused by the downward spiral of sin. Jesus became the sacrifices detailed in Leviticus 1-7. In all of the sacrifices listed, there's not one for sickness or disease. In all of Torah, atonement is made for sin, not sickness or disease. Healing comes from having faith in God and His healing power. The atonement was to pay a debt - our debt - for our transgressions against God. Sickness and disease are a result of our fallen state; they are not, in and of themselves, transgressions against God.
There is Scriptural evidence that shows we may still suffer sickness or disease, even though the atonement was made through Jesus. James wrote, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5.14). Paul wrote of men of faith who had suffered sickness: "Trophimus I left sick at Miletus" (2 Timothy 4.20); "For indeed he was sick to the point of death" (Philippians 2.27); "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (1 Timothy 5.23). One woman, who had become sick and died, was healed through Peter (Acts 9.36-42).
But we must believe that He will heal us. When told that our physical bodies are being attacked by sickness or disease, we're not to deny it or not "accept" it. That's not very logical nor Biblical. (It's interesting to note that those who "refuse" sickness do not "refuse" a broken arm or broken leg.) The reality is that if we're suffering from sickness, denying it will not change that fact. It's our response to the sickness that's important. There's nothing wrong with saying we're being attacked by a disease or suffering from sickness. But we should also trust and believe that God will heal us. If we deny it then how can we be healed from something that we claim we do not have in the first place? God does not get any glory when we deny sickness or disease. He's glorified when we declare that we believe that God will heal us and we allow Him to do it. This opens the door for Him to work. Otherwise we're saying to God, "I have nothing wrong so there is nothing for You to do".
God declared that He is our doctor (Exodus 15.26). One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is 'healing', not 'rejecting'. Peter declared that Jesus went about "healing all who were oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10.38). Let us believe in the healing power of God and let Him be glorified in it.
(1) The Word-Faith Movement, Gary E. Gilley
[ Published: December 2002 :: Written by Lee Underwood :: Permission to reprint is granted with proper credit to author. :: shamar.org]
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