What is divine healing?
The term “healing” means to “restore, make whole.” God’s will for physical healing is the restoration of the body to a state of wholeness.
Why does God heal?
- So that men may believe in Jesus Christ (John 20:30-31).
- For God’s delight in seeing His children healthy (Matt. 4:23-24).
- For God’s glory and to display His Kingdom (Lk. 9:1-2).
- His love and compassion toward His children (Matt. 14:14).
Is it God’s will (desire) for people to live in perfect health?
- Yes it is God’s will (we will be referring to God’s will throughout this whole article as His desire and not His decree or what He chooses to actually do or ordain) for His people (i.e. Christians) to ultimately and eternally walk and live in perfect health! Of course this is seen clearly in the fact that every believer in Jesus Christ will one day be healed of every sickness and disease and walk in perfect health in heaven. Sickness and death came upon the earth as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve when they chose to sin and rebel against God. However, when a believer in Jesus Christ enters into the new heaven and earth, he or she will receive a renewed body free from any disease or affliction (Rom. 8:23). The curse from the fall of Adam and Eve and all of its effects will be erased for all of eternity!
- It is also God’s will (in the sense of desire, not necessarily decree) to heal people on this earth (in body, soul, and spirit), including both the believer in Jesus Christ and the non-believer, as is clear in several Scripture verses such as Matthew 4:23-24, Matthew 8:2-3, Mark 16:17-18, and John 9:2-3. It is a great mistake to think that a person (especially a Christian) cannot know what the will of the Lord is in regards to healing, for God has made it clear in His Word! We must know God’s attitude toward both sickness and healing for this will give us the faith we need in praying for healing! Biblically it is God’s will (desire) for everyone, especially His obedient and believing children of God, to walk in perfect health, and we must pray in faith according to His will (Mark 16:17-18; James 5:14-17)! God desires His obedient and believing children (i.e. Christians) to walk in perfect health (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), not only when they get to heaven, but also now on this earth. God hates sickness and disease for it is part of the curse of sin and its effects upon this world! God desires whole healing to the whole person including not only soul and spirit, but also the body! We make a grave error and mistake when we make a false and unbiblical dichotomy between God only desiring to heal the soul and spirit, but not the body too. God wills to heal the body, soul, and spirit! It is God’s nature in both the Old and New Testament to heal the sick of their diseases as is clear in Exodus 15:26 when God declares Himself to be the healer (see, also Psalm 103:3). In the New Testament, Jesus healed people all throughout His ministry and every person He prayed for and commanded healing over (no exceptions) was healed! Jesus Christ also provided physical healing in the atonement when He died upon the cross for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 8:16-17). Thus, Jesus did not only die on the cross for people to be saved and thus receive spiritual healing, but also to be physically healed as well! Sickness is never seen as a blessing in the Bible nor is healing ever seen to be a curse! In fact sickness is always seen in a negative light as evil caused by sin and satan that we as Christians are to come against and pray for and command healing from! We must understand that suffering and sickness are two completely different things in the Bible so that we do not get confused (of course sickness will produce suffering, but it is a different kind of suffering than what one would receive from being persecuted for Jesus)! Two different Greek words are used in the New Testament for suffering and sickness and our responses biblically should be different to the both of them. We must and should expect suffering and persecution as a Christian, for Jesus also endured this and declared that His followers would too, and our response should be praise unto God in the midst of the storm and also asking God what He is trying to teach us through it (Matthew 5:11-12; Acts 5:41; 2 Tiimothy 3:12; James 1:2-8; 1 Peter 4:1-2,13; Hebrews 2:10; Philippians 3:10). Thus suffering is often a tool by God to mature us in our faith and is a positive thing (not the suffering in and of itself, but what we learn through it, and of course none of us enjoy going through it)! Sickness, on the other hand, biblically is to be seen as negative and part of the curse of sin, and is something believers in Jesus are to pray against and believe God for healing and deliverence from (James 5:14-16)! Nowhere in the Bible are obedient children of God told to expect sickness or disease as part of their calling in life (some might bring up Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Cor. 12:7-10 as an example against this thinking, but it cannot be proven that this thorn was a sickness for the Scriptures are silent on the issue and a straightforward reading of the passage reveals that the thorn was a demon and probably unrelated to sickness, but rather was refering to the persecution that Paul was experiencing as a result of following Jesus – see, 2 Cor. 11:21-33). Sickness and disease have nothing to do with suffering for the faith (with the exception of bodily and mental conditions and sickness that may arise out of torture, condinement, persecution, and deprivation because of our role as Christians). Although Jesus suffered, there was no mention in the Bible of Jesus ever being sick! Jesus came into this world and died upon the cross not only to heal us spiritually and save us from our sin, but also to heal us physically and save us from diseases (the word for salvation in the Greek not only refers to saving one from sin, but also from the consequences of sin including sickness and disease).
- So we can conclude that it is God’s desire for people to walk in perfect health (soul, spirit, and body) on this earth and not only one day in heaven. However, we must be careful and cautious that we allow room for God’s sovereignty (His reign and governing rule over the universe) and divine mystery. There are times when God chooses not to heal a person of a sickness and allow him, and even His obedient and
believing children, to become and remain sick for whatever sovereign and higher reason and purpose in the larger scheme of His plan (but it must be noted that God is never glorified when His obedient children are sick, nor does He ever make His obedient children sick unless they are in rebellion against Him, in which case He would be disciplining and judging them in order to lead them to repentance and restoration – 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; see below). Most, if not all of us, have all experienced some degree of sickness and disease even if it was only a cold or a flu. This is normal because we live in a sinful and cursed world due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience and rebellion against God. As a result of sin on this earth, there is bacteria, viruses, germs, etc. that can cause even the most righteous person to become sick. This was the case with Job and the man born blind in John 9:2-3, but it must also be noted that God did eventually heal both of them. As in the case of Job, God in His sovereign design, may permit a faithful and righteous servant to suffer ill fortune for a season, but in due time bring total healing (the theme of Job is that inexplicable things do happen to the righteous at times). Everyone will experience death and several great men of God in the Bible were sick at times including Elisha, Trophimus, Epaphroditus, Timothy, and probably Paul (Psalm 90:10; 2 Kings 13:14; 2 Timothy 4:20; Philippians 2:27; 1 Timothy 5:23; and Galatians 4:13). There have also been several men and women of God throughout church history who have experienced early deaths and sicknesses, not to mention all the premature deaths of infants and children (David Brainerd is one such example – it is hard to determine if God just allowed this for some sovereign reason or if it was something David Brainerd failed to do or not to do). God can work all things together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose – including people’s sicknesses (Romans 8:28, not that the sickness is good, but He can even work sickness together for a good purpose). We must be careful, however, when praying for a person who is sick that we are slow to give a reason for why they are sick and continue to remain that way even after we have prayed for them. It can be either due to that person’s sin/disobedience (specific sin), natural causes (general sin), lack of faith on the person praying for healing and/or the person receiving the healing, fallen state of man, demonic attack, the healing can be a process and take time, or there can be a larger scheme in the plan of God (a divine mystery). Just because an obedient and believing Christian is sick, however, does not mean it is God’s will (desire) for them to be sick, as is true in the case of a Christian struggling with sin. Just as it is clearly not God’s will for a Christian to be in sin or struggle with sin, so it is not God’s will for a Christian to be sick (although often a Christian does struggle with sin and get sick)! Nowhere in the Bible does it promise that a Christian will never get sick (nor struggle with sin), but that when he or she does get sick due to living in a sinful and cursed world, it is God’s will for him to be restored and healed. Just because great men of God in the Bible were sick does not mean it is God’s will for people to be sick, just as great men of God in the Bible sinned and surely it was not God’s will for them to sin (Noah, Moses, David, and Peter are just a few examples of men sinning against God). Just as it is not God’s will for anyone to perish or go to hell (2 Peter 3:9), so it is not God’s will for obedient and believing Christians to live in sickness! Yet the reality is, just as there are people going to hell and who struggle with sin, so there are people who are sick. This is the curse of sin in this world! There are conditions that must be met in people to receive healing from God the healer, just as there are conditions on people to receive their salvation (faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of sin) and freedom from their sin (repentance, hating their sin, confession, running from temptation, taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ, making wise choices, etc.). But there are times when God in His sovereignty, allows a person to be sick for some sovereign and mysterious reason and does not heal him, although He hates to see him sick and always desires (or wills) his healing. In that case, the person must continue to persevere in praying the prayer of faith for his healing standing on the Word of God that it is God’s will to see him healthy and not give up until he is restored to health (James 5:14-16). There is no gaurantee that a person will be healed immediately, for at times healing can be a process (notice with King Hezekiah that it was three days before he was strong enough to go up to the house of the Lord – 2 Kings 20:1-6; see also Luke 17:14; John 4:50-52). We must continue to have faith and seek God for the healing! In the end, God knows the future and we must continually surrender to His sovereignty. The kingdom of God is “already, but not yet,” meaning Jesus Christ has already defeated the powers of sin, sickness, and death upon the cross, and thus the kingdom of God is already here on this earth in one sense. Yet in another sense, we are not yet completely free from sin, sickness and death and therefore wait for Christ’s return when He will finally set up the kingdom of God upon the earth (and thus enjoy the new heavens and earth for all of eternity). Therefore, when God heals us on this earth, it is the “already” aspect of the Kingdom of God advancing upon the earth (Luke 10:9) and as a result, we are to rejoice and give God all the praise!
Why do people become sick?
- Due to living in a fallen and sinful world (general sin), we are prone to disease (Gal. 4:13; 1 Tim. 5:23; Phil. 2:26-27; 2 Tim. 4:20).
- Specific sin (There can be sin in our life, sin against us – such as generational sins and curses, or our reaction to sin done to us). Often sickness and death for Israel was a result of the covenant curse and God’s judgment and discipline (Lev. 26; Deut. 28:15-68; 30; 32:39; Nu. 25:8-9,18; 31:16, Ps. 32:3-4, etc.). This connection is also seen in the N.T. (Mk. 2:5; Jn. 5:15; Acts 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 11:29-32; James 5:15-16).
- Demons/Satan (Matt. 8:16-17; Matt. 4:24, Luke 9:37-43; Acts 10:38)
So that the works of God might be displayed (that God would be glorified through healing a person of their sickness) (John 9:2-3, 11:4).
- A lack of faith of either the one praying for healing or the one being prayed for (Matt. 17:14-21; Matt. 9:27- 31; Mark 9:23; Gal. 3:5).
- Not having a healthy and nutritious diet and lifestyle of living (foolish choices in regards to what one eats and drinks or does not eat or drink – 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Prov. 23:20-21). A lack of sleep and exercise could be a reason for sickness and disease as well.
- A larger scheme in the plan of God (a divine mystery in which case, God might teach us some spiritual
lesson, etc.) (Job)
How should we pray for people to be healed?
- A sign of the kingdom advancing is God using His people to heal one another of sickness (Luke 10:9). Therefore, we must pray in fervent faith for the sick, believing and expecting that God desires (or wills) to heal them (Luke 9:1-2; James 5:14-16). We are to speak a definite, straightforward declaration of what is to be. We do not weaken our faith with ifs, and, or buts, but we speak with boldness and take authority over the sickness just as Jesus’ disciples did (see, Matthew 10:1). Some at this point would argue that this authority was only for Jesus’ disciples but not for all believers today. If one believes that line of reasoning, he would also have to logically conclude that the great commission described in Matthew 28:18-20 was only for the disciples too and not the church. But obviously, we know this is not the case, for God calls all believers in Jesus to witness to others and to go into all the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Furthermore, we are to hate the sickness and what it is doing to a person(s) and come against it in Jesus’ name and declare God’s will for that person to live in perfect health and claim it by faith (1 John 5:14-15).
We might not know the immediate plan of the Lord at present (although at times God reveals His plan to people as they pray supernaturally and prophetically), but we must believe and expect for the best and leave the results to God (whether or not He decrees healing and thus heals the person). Whether or not the person gets healed immediately is God’s business, but we must do our part and continue to pray with faith and authority!
- When we pray, we must fervently and boldly, yet humbly, stand in Christ’s authority and command healing in Jesus’ name, much like Peter in Acts 3:6 and 9:32-35 (the book of Acts in not meant to be only a historical book, but also a manual and blueprint for the church today in the 21st century – see our article on the church’s vision). All throughout Jesus’ ministry He commanded lepers to “be clean,” He touched blind eyes saying, “be opened,” and to deaf ears He said the same, “be opened,” and to demons He commanded, “come out.” Jesus gave this same authority and power to Christians as well (Lk. 9:1-2,6; 10:19; Eph. 1:18-23). We want to have the mind of Christ as we pray and boldly speak forth His truth (1 Cor. 2:10-16). God wants us to take His authority and command His power! We have to aggresively take the authority God has already given to us in order to see God bring the healing into manifestation (our authority and prayer of faith does not make a person healed, for only God heals, but it often does move the hand of God to bring about the healing – faith in God brings about powerful results). There are times where God might even reveal to us the reason for one’s sickness and we must be obedient and reveal the “root” issue and command healing! There are times, however, when we might discern the voice of God wrongly, and it is crucial for God’s glory, that we humble ourselves and admit our mistakes.
- We must pray in faith and expectation standing on God’s promise that it is His will that we walk in perfect health, but at the same time leave the results up to Him (for He is the healer and it is His business whether or not He heals a person immediately or not). Sometimes one is healed instantly, at other times it can take praying for the person a couple of times (Lk. 17:14), and at other times one is not healed until heaven for whatever sovereign reason (Rev. 21:1-4). We therefore must extend love and compassion at all times.
- We must also be quick to listen before we pray for healing over a person. We must be sensitive to the Spirit in order to discern if there is a spiritual “root” or reason for the person’s sickness (we must have the mind of Jesus Christ – 1 Cor. 2:16, James 5:14-15).
- In a church service, it is biblical to call the elders (or spiritual leaders) forward to anoint the sick with oil and to pray in faith for healing (this is not just any prayer, but the “prayer of faith”). Although this is recommended by James, all believers have the authority to pray for healing (see James 5:16; some also have the spiritual gift of healing in which God uses them more than others to heal the sick – 1 Cor. 12:9).
- We must be moved with compassion and love for the people we are praying for (Matt. 14:14; 20:34).
What part does medicine play in healing?
- God can use medicine to heal just as He can use prayer to heal. Due to us living in America, we have been blessed with doctors, hospitals, and medicine. Although not all medicine is good for people due to its side effects, God sometimes uses medicine to bring about healing. In fact Paul recommended that Timothy use a little wine for his stomach, and oil was sometimes used as medicine in the Bible (Is. 1:6; 1 Tim. 5:23; Mk. 6:13).
- Although we should be open to using medicine and use it at times, we must also seek God for healing. In fact, when we first get sick, our immediate response should not be to run to the doctors or the hospital, but first pray to God to heal us and for us to take authority over the sickness by the prayer of faith! Only if we are still sick and in pain, should we then proceed further in wisdom to get medical help.
Where does faith play into healing?
- Faith is crucial and often necessary for healing, for God responds to the prayer of faith (James 5:13-17)! We must realize 100% that according to the Word of God, it is clearly God’s will for us to walk in perfect health soul, spirit, and body (Matthew 8:16-17)! We must look to God the healer who heals the sick for His glory and our good! It declares in 1 Peter 2:24 that, “…for by His wounds we WERE healed.” This is in the
past tense in the Greek declaring that Jesus Christ has already done everything necessary when He died on the cross and rose again to purchase all our healing (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically)! Therefore, we can declare it is God’s will (desire) that we live healthy lives and claim it emphatically by faith until we are healed of our diseases (for it is ours to claim as obedient children of God)! If we are truly saved and thus have God the healer living on the inside of us, than we already have the source of our healing living in us, but we must do our part and appropriate experientially what is already ours through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Now we must not deny the reality of our sickness and go around telling people we are healed when in reality we are not yet healed (faith is not presumption nor is it closing our eyes to reality). We must simply declare that in the present we are sick, but by faith we declare boldly that it is God’s will that we be healthy and that we will pray the prayer of faith and not stop until we get our healing that is rightfully ours through our Lord Jesus Christ on this earth or the new heavens and earth to come (see Romans 4:18-22)! God will often not heal due to the lack of faith from either the one praying or the one being prayed for, due to God wanting us to corporate with Him (just as it is God’s will or desire for revival to come, but we must first do our part and prepare for it and seek God’s face). We must partner with God and do our part which is faith, and then God will do His part by His grace. The words “if, then” are all over the Bible and this is the beautiful thing about a relationship. If we will do our part, then God will do His part. But He often waits for us to make the first move (much like a chess game). We must not waver or doubt, but expect and believe for complete healing, for God uses prayer and faith to move His hand and
change circumstances and people (1 Jn. 5:14-15; Matt. 7:7-8; 17:20-21; James 1:5-8)! At times God might also call us to fast for the sick so that they will be made well (Is. 58:3-9; Mk. 9:29). However, there are times where we, or others who we are praying for, do not receive healing for whatever mysterious reason, although we must continue to do our part and pray in faith expecting healing and standing on God’s Word that He desires us to be healthy. There are other times that God will heal despite our lack of faith (Matt. 8:10; 9:1-2; 22; 28-31; 15:28; Mk. 5:34; 9:23; 10:52; Lk. 9:41; Acts 3:4; 10:4; Gal. 3:5).
- We must be careful of what some would call “the health and wealth gospel,” which declares that receiving God’s healing is as simple as just having enough faith (although sometimes it is), and that God always decrees our healing and if we do not get our healing, then there must be something wrong with us (although sometimes this is true). These people also proclaim that it is always God’s will (in both decree and desire) that everyone be rich on this earth (although sometimes it is God’s will for people to be rich). This is way too oversimplistic and extreme, and does not take into account what the whole of Scripture has to say about healing and wealth, but just looks at isolated Scripture verses (often taken out of context). It is not always as simplistic (this is oversimplification at its worst) as just believing (although in some cases faith in Jesus is all that you truly need)! Sometimes, as discussed above, there is sin involved that needs to be repented of or a change in one’s diet, etc. Sometimes people just need to wash their hands more and take better care of their temple of the Holy Spirit and live with more wisdom! Some would twist scripture and interpret the Bible incorrectly to come up with a simple faith formula. They believe that their words always speak forth reality. It can become a tool to manipulate the power of God and to arrogantly demand God to heal if one is not careful. Although we have the authority through Jesus to command and claim healing due to healing being God’s will or desire (see, 1 John 5:14-15), God does not have to do what we command just because we say so! God is all wise and all powerful and sovereign and He will work with our faith, but in the end has final authority (not man). The problem with this view, besides being theologically incorrect, is that it hurts and can even destroy lives and is cruel. In fact the conclusion of this theology is twofold: if one is not healed right away than it is the person’s fault (lack of faith/sin) or it is God’s fault (He is made to be a liar). We must be careful not to twist scripture and interpret the Bible incorrectly by emphasizing some Scripture verses and ignoring other ones. We must look at Scripture in the light of the whole of Scripture and in its proper context. And although what we speak is extremely important when it comes to faith (coupled with belief in our hearts – see Romans 10:10), our tongues cannot manipulate the power of God. We should believe and thus expect God to heal, but leave the results up to Him. One must be sensitive in dealing with people, and if one is not healed, one must be careful not to blame it on his or her sin or lack of faith (although that can sometimes be true), or accuse God of being a liar and not caring about people (which is a lie, for he surely does love and care for us).
What should my response be when I am sick?
- I must believe it is God’s will for me to walk in perfect health and claim it by faith and continue to pray for healing and not give up (Matt. 7:7-8)!
- I must be open to receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ peace by surrendering all my cares to the Lord.
- I must realize that it hurts God to see me in sickness and pain due to His compassion and love toward me, and that He always desires to see me healed.
- I must search my heart to make sure there is no wicked way within me and that there is no sin I need to repent of and renounce in my life.
- I must ask myself if I have a healthy diet and then discipline my body with exercise and nutrition.
- I must pray for others who are sick.
 Michael L. Brown, Israel’s Divine Healer (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 19. This refers to not only physical healing, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual healing as well. However, this paper only deals with physical healing.
 We must be careful of claiming that all sickness is connected to a specific sin. Although this might be the case at times, it is not always the case. Sickness is often a result of the fallen world we live in and it has nothing to do with a person’s specific sin.
 In the case of Job, God did not send the sickness upon Job, but Satan did. God only allowed it to happen and turned everything around in Job’s life for the good – to strengthen and mature Job.
 The emphasis in James 5:14-16 is on the prayer of faith, not on the anointing of oil for healing. The oil is important, however, for it is symbolic of setting one apart or anointing one for God to heal.
 We must be careful of putting too much of an emphasis on formulas for healing. Although what we say is very important, what God looks at and what impresses Him is our hearts. Faith begins in the heart of a person.
 All Bible verses are taken from the NASB 1995 updated version translation of the Bible. For further reading on the subject of divine healing, a great book to read is “Authority to Heal” by Ken Blue and “Israel’s Divine Healer” by Michael L. Brown.