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In our previous lessons we have seen that it is God's will to heal the sick and that He has the power to carry out His will. Why is it then that some sick do not appear to be healed today?
We will explore the answer to that question in this lesson. We will look at some hindrances that may operate, so that people who come for divine healing don't have problems in the receiving of it. Since God is able to heal all forms of disease through the power of the Spirit, why do some people not appear to receive this blessing?
Wrong Teaching Leads To Wrong Believing:
Just as wrong teaching corrupted the early Church, so today many of God's people suffer as a result of wrong teaching (that the Lord wants them to continue being sick). Healing ministry is influenced not to fight sickness! There are three main "thrusts" or arguments given by this wrong teaching:
1. THE APOSTLE PAUL HAD A "THORN IN THE FLESH" (2 COR 12)
This is taken to imply that Christians must suffer sickness at the hand of God. It is even inferred Paul had somehow contracted sickness in his eyes, by linking it with Galatians 6:11 and Gal. 4:15 ("For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.")
There are certain things we need to understand here. First, Paul had exceptional prophetic experiences and this was the reason given for the "thorn" in 2 Cor 12:2-4,7, "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure."
This cannot apply to all Christians for all time irrespective of the depth of their prophetic experience!
Also, note that the thorn is called "the messenger of Satan" not God! All other bible references to "thorns" are to persecution of God's people. Examine Numbers 33:55 and Joshua 23:13. This meaning also seems likely from the context in 2 Cor. 12:23-27. It is confirmed by Acts 20:23 showing that Paul expected persecution not sickness!
Why would God blind Paul in Galatians 6:11 when his eyes had been healed at the time of his baptism in the Spirit in Acts 9:18?! How could a blind Paul inspire faith in others to be healed, after the shipwreck (Acts 28:8-10)?
2. "JOB WAS PERFECT BUT SICK" (JOB CHAPTERS 1 AND 2)
This is taken by some to show that holy men must be sick through the chastening of God to improve their souls! Therefore they should accept this sickness for their own good!
However, this argument is faulty for several reasons. Please note that it was Satan, not God, who was the instigator of Job's sickness (Job 1:9-12). Normally Job was protected by God's hedge round him! God's plan for Job was health!
The result of this sickness was an inclination and a temptation to curse God (not bless Him) and Job's wife actually suggested this (Job 2:9)!! Job was good in spite of his sickness and not because of it!
Job did not end a sick man, but was healed and James exhorts us to concentrate on this fact (James 5:11). Job died a healthy and a wealthy man (Job 42:10-16)! The Living Bible translates Job 42:17 to say: "Then at last he died, an old, old man, after living a long, good life."
3. "TIMOTHY HAD TO TAKE MEDICINE" (1 TIM 5:23)
Timothy is told "Drink no longer water." His "often infirmities" seem to indicate sickness, but this is pressing the meaning beyond the context! This could as well be urged to advocate the extensive use of alcohol as a medicine! Obviously Timothy had been drinking only water (which was not good in that district) and so is advised to take a little wine from time to time, in order to avoid his stomach being weakened!
The word used here for "infirmities" means weakness and not always sickness (Ro 8:26). Naturally he may not have had a strong constitution, and we have already seen God's miracles are supernatural, not unnatural! This Scripture on Timothy does not prove he was ill!
I would go further, because of the prevalence of this type of teaching. Because of the constant use of these special cases and the total neglect of extensive passages of Scripture dealing with healing, it could be suggested that the Church is running away from the authority of God's healing in the majority of ministries. (Without God's power, perhaps the minister is not always sure of his calling or equipment and so uses these special cases to avoid the challenge of a miracle ministry.)
The strange thing is that Christians are taught to believe God wants them sick -- and at the same time, they are told to send for the doctor to heal them.
Failure To Prepare Personally For Healing:
Another main problem however, lies with the sick themselves. There is sometimes a failure, on the sick person's part, to prepare themselves personally for healing.
Many sick people come to the "man with the healing gift" in the hope that he will do the healing work completely -- not realizing that they are dealing with the Holy Spirit. The sick must, on their part prepare themselves for His healing!
The sick person must be sure of God's will. Even under the anointing, Christ could do no mighty work in Nazareth in Luke 4 because of prejudice. We need more positive teaching of God's power like Mark 16:18.
The sick person must confess and repent of known sin (Ps 66:18, James 5:13-16). Healing should be done in the local church with anointed elders who are able to pray in faith, and not be limited to special trans-local ministries and meetings.
Wrong attitudes must be put right. Get rid of sins of speech (James 3:5-8). Even a prophetess like Miriam suffered for this sin! Get rid of lukewarmness and a "lack of expectation" in seeking God (2 Chr 15:12). Healing ministers must have enough compassion to pray their visions of healing visions through.
The sick must believe and set a time to touch God for healing. The woman did this in Mark 5:28. The healing minister must agree with the sick person on the timing of the healing.
Many people believe God can and will touch them some time. That is not enough. A definite point of contact must be made!
William Branham in vision described how his car would round a corner and come across an accident, where one boy was dead and another dying. The woman with him fainted, when they rounded the next corner and saw the accident. The prophet calmly raised the first boy from the dead on the spot. The mother of the second child pleaded with him, but under John 5:19, he refused to go further until he had a clear vision to do so. After prayer, he saw a lighted taper touch a second candle, and he knew the time was right to touch God for the second boy, who was then healed! The prophet is in authority, only when he acts under authority!
The Healing Minister Can Be Out Of Touch With God:
There is not only a great responsibility on the sick person, but also on the person ministering healing.
The minister must be well led of the Holy Ghost to discern the true cause of the sickness, the timing and method of the healing, and possible hindrances. At the Bethesda pool, 5000 sick folk were waiting, but Christ only healed the one whom He saw in vision beforehand from His Father because he was led to do so. John 5:19 tells us, "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.'"
In Australia I was shown God healing people with sickness in their hands. Of the twenty who came forward, only five had hand trouble. I refused to pray for any of the others, but the five were all healed, including the pastor's wife. Multiplied prayer without God's leading, only leads to further problems, as faith generally declines in a meeting where nothing is seen to happen.
It is a foundational fact that the healing minister should be equipped with the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).
John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit and was a prophet, but never healed the sick (John 10:11). The baptism of the Spirit is needed for this ministry and he admitted to Christ that he needed this experience. (John 1:33). The baptism is generally shown by speaking in a prayer language (Acts 10:45) as distinct from an anointing or a filling with the Spirit. John never had this.
Paul found it helpful to pray through in tongues beforehand in private, and then he was able to minister other gifts in public (1 Cor 14:18).
The healing minister needs to maintain personal contact with God and even then, may need to fast in difficult cases. Christ gave the apostles power to heal, but they failed to cast out a difficult demon, and he brought an anointing down from the mountain that met the need. Even then He observed, in Mark 9:29, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
You cannot afford to be in the healing ministry without the power of God in operation, and being in touch with the Holy Spirit, enjoying the maximum anointing of God.
The healing minister must also be positive in his own faith and healing message. The disciples failed to cast out the demon from the boy, because of their lack of faith as much as their lack of fasting, although they had been commissioned to heal (Matt 17:20). It is vital not only to pray with the person, but to act and encourage them to act positively afterwards. One great secret of victory is to encourage the sufferer to experience forgiveness and praise (Prov 17:22).
The healing minister should encourage faith by an accurate and detailed word of knowledge or discernment of spirits of the exact cause of the disease. He should also ask for a renunciation of any other spirit contact for healing (Acts 19). [We normally apply such passages as Ex 22:18 and Deut 18:9.] He must also be careful not to make a careless diagnosis of every sickness as being "demon power" which (if it proves not to be accurate) merely increases the sick person's problems.
The healing minister should invoke the name of Jesus in the power of the Spirit and ensure the glory goes to the Lord! Peter did this in Acts 3:16 and did not encourage any attention to himself!
The minister should warn the healed person that they may be tested by symptoms of sickness appearing again after a genuine physical healing. Only a firm stand on the promises of God will defeat this counterattack.