Getting the Paradigm Right

The modern Western church has got its wires crossed. Most healing prayer for Christians is done by the pastor at the front of the church or by an evangelist at a healing meeting. The process is quick and dramatic, but it usually fails because the wrong paradigm is being applied in the wrong place.

Slam bam, "Be healed in Jesus name" works for unbelievers, because all they need to be healed is a burst of God's power. It does not work for Christians, because the underlying cause of the sickness is not resolved. Finding out why the person is not able to receive what Jesus has freely given may take time, words of knowledge, talking about issues or confession of sins. This is unlikely to happen under television cameras at the front of a meeting.

If their problem is lack of faith, a Christian may get inspired at a healing meeting and have a rise of faith to the point where they are healed. That is great, if it happens. However, lack of faith is only one possible reason for the sickness. Many other issues that can rob people of the healing that Jesus has earned for them cannot be dealt with on the stage at the front of a church. Peace and quiet will be needed to hear the Lord and sort out the problem.

The big-man, healing-meeting model does not work, because it is using the right method in the wrong place. The healing-meeting methods that should be used in the world for people who have not received the gospel, but we are using it for sick Christians. The proof that this does not work is the fact that most churches are full of sick people. Many have gone forward at healing meetings again and again, but they are still sick. The fact that so many Christians are sick after fifty years of healing meetings shows that this model is faulty. We have ignored God's clear teaching and it is costing us.

Elders are the Key

James 5 is very clear. Sick Christians should go to the elders. It does not say they should go to the doctor. It does not say to go to a healing meeting, the next time an anointed evangelist is at a church in town. It does not say they should go to the church meeting next Sunday. It says that they should go to the elders.

Elders have avoided this issue for a long time. Christians have let them off the hook by ignoring the command and going to doctors and healing meetings. However if we deliberately ignore God's command, we should not be surprised that numerous Christians are sick.

Paul did not see a church full of sick and dying Christians as something normal. He saw it as a sign that something is wrong.

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (1 Cor 11:30).

The word "why" refers to a cause or reason. Paul saw excessive sickness as a sign that something wrong was seriously wrong. One reason that sickness is so pervasive in the modern church is the unbiblical model that we have adopted for the healing ministry.

Healing for Christians is totally different than from the healing of unbelievers. This is the second stream of teaching on healing in the Bible. The healing of believers is based on the covenant.

Key 3: Revelation

Christians need a revelation of the fullness of God's covenant with us. We must understand the promise of the covenant that God has established and understand that healing is part of our covenant inheritance.

There was no sickness before the fall. Humans were created in the image of God and he is not affected by sickness and death. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of life to protect them from sickness and death. After they sinned, they were cut off from the Tree of Life. Their sin placed the whole world under a curse and brought death into the world (Gen 3:24). As Paul said, "The wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23).

Sickness is part of the curse of sin. Just as the Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance (Eph 1:13,14), sickness is a deposit, guaranteeing death. Sickness is the firstfruits of death and a constant reminder of our frailty.

Old Covenant

Under the Old Covenant, sickness, plagues and epidemics were part of the curse of sin (Deut 28:21,22,27,28). Full health was promised to those who obey.

Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span (Ex 23:25,26).

This passage is not hard to interpret. God promised that those who serve him will be free from sickness and will live a full life span.

The experience of Moses confirmed this promise. He was one hundred and twenty years old when he went to be with God, but his eyes were not dim and his body was not weak (Deut 34:7). Caleb was as strong at eighty years of age, as had been when he was sent out as a spy (Joshua 14:7,8,10-12).

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God (Psalm 92:12,13).

The promise of the Old Covenant is clear. The problem was that it was conditional on obedience. Most people found it difficult to achieve the level of righteousness needed to be free of sickness (Heb 11:13,39,40). They never entered into the promised blessing, because they failed to obey God.

New Covenant

The New Covenant is a better covenant, containing better promises (Heb 8:6). The promises of the Old Covenant were not received due to disobedience and lack of righteousness. Jesus death on the cross changed that by providing perfect righteousness for all who believe. He paid the penalty for sin and disobedience, providing the benefits of the covenant to those who have faith in him (Heb 9:15). We no longer have to live a perfect life to receive freedom from sickness. That is now part of our inheritance in Jesus, through faith in him.

Jesus died on the cross to deal with all the effects of sin. As sickness is an effect of sin, it was also dealt with on the cross (Gal 3:13). Healing is part of the salvation package that Jesus established for his people. The Greek word for save (sozw sozo) also means "heal". The salvation established on the cross dealt with both sin and sickness. Jesus restored everything that was affected by sin, including sickness.

Matt 27:26-30 records that Jesus was flogged, spat on and struck with a rod. This was not needed to pay the penalty of sin. His death was all that the law required for sin. The additional beatings were for our healing.

This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases (Matt 8:17)

1 Peter 2:24 quotes the same verse. Our health was bought by Jesus flogging, in the same way that the cross dealt with sin.

Health is part of our inheritance in Christ, but although millions of people have claimed forgiveness of sin through the cross, very few have received the healing that was bought by his flogging. If he bore our sickness, we should not still be bearing it. We need an understanding of his salvation that includes healing, so his pain and agony are not wasted.

Disease is Dead

Jesus carried our sicknesses and carried our diseases when he died on the cross. They died with him when he died (Rom 6:5,8). They did not rise again when he rose from the dead, so they are still dead, and must stay dead.

When Jesus rose from the dead, we rose with him (Rom 6:4), but our sicknesses and diseases did not. We are alive, but they are dead.

We can declare that our bodies were raised and restored with Jesus in the spiritual realms, so they must be healed and whole in us on earth. When we command a sick person to "be healed", we are declaring them to be on earth, as they are in Jesus in heaven.

Real Pain

The spiritual powers of evil use the curses of the old covenant to demand the right to inflict sickness and disease on those who forget God. Jesus accepted a physical beating to nullify their right to inflict pain on us (1 Pet 2:23). He could not just take our sickness and diseases away. He had to experience real physical pain and weakness to free us from sickness and disease.

Everyone wanted to have a go at him, so he was beaten several times.

  • The Jewish guards beat him (Luke 22:63).

  • The members of the Sanhedrin struck him with their fists or slapped him (Matt 26:67).

  • Pilate had Jesus flogged (John 19:1-2)

  • Roman soldiers struck his head with a wooden staff again and again (Matt 27:30).

After these beatings, Jesus' entire body would be in agony.

The spiritual powers of evil cannot claim that his pain was not real, because he experienced pain equivalent to our sicknesses and diseases. It was sufficient to provide us with health and healing.

New Christians

Most Christians should be healed when they are saved. If the evangelist is praying for the sick, most who receive the gospel will be healed. This should be normal practice, because the full gospel includes healing.

As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt 10:7,8).

If these words are applied, those who receive the gospel will be healed. Healing is a key part of the package. It includes forgiveness, deliverance, release from demons and the gift of the Spirit. It is part of the package we received.

We need a radical rethink about this. A new Christian is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). The old has gone and the new has come. If a man proud who has both a spirit of anger and chronic bronchitis were born again, we would expect him to become humble. We would want him to free of the spirit of anger. Why should we expect his chronic bronchitis to continue? They are all part of the old life that should go.

In practice, it should be easier to deal with sickness than sin. The man might be tempted to be angry again, but he would be unlikely to want his chronic bronchitis back again. Jesus said,

Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? (Luke 5:23).

Jesus implied that sickness is easier to deal with than sin. Sickness took a word, whereas sin required his death on a cross.

Walking in Health

Jesus is the model we copy. He is the standard against which we measure our lives. There is no evidence that Jesus was ever sick. He never failed to turn up at a meeting because he had a cold. He never took time off his ministry, because he was in bed with the flu. The thought of Jesus being sick just not make sense. If Jesus was full of health, we should expect the same.

Jesus victory over sickness means that health is normal for God's people. Full health is part of salvation that we have received. Despite these facts, sickness is pervasive in the church. This suggests that there is something wrong in our understanding of salvation or the way that we are functioning. In this study, I attempt to crack through this conundrum. I believe that the problem is with us and not with God. The first step to a solution is to understand the cause of sickness among Christians.

Satan is the Cause of Sickness

The clear message of the scriptures is that Satan is the cause of sickness. Sickness is an attack by the evil spiritual powers. Peter attributed all sickness to the devil.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).

Most observers see sick people; Peter saw people under the power of the devil.

Jesus made an interesting comment when he healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath.

Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her (Luke 13:16).

The people saw a woman so crippled that she could not straighten up. Jesus saw a woman bound by Satan. We must learn to see what Jesus sees. Satan is the cause of sickness.

Satan comes to steal, destroy and kill (John 10:10). Our health is part of what he tries to steal. Job had severe boils and sores. Satan was the direct cause of this sickness (Job 2:7).

I believe that sickness is the most common attack of Satan that we experience. Sickness is Satan's second most powerful weapon. If we are sick, he has a foothold in our life. He can use it, when he chooses, to control us.

Christians blame Satan for too much sin. Most sin is really caused by our flesh. On the other hand, we do not blame enough sickness on Satan. He is responsible for most sickness among Christians. He is able to get away with this, because he has deceived us into believing that he is not the cause. He is quite happy being wrongly blamed for our sin, if it stops us from seeing that he is the cause of most of our sickness.

In Jesus, we are able to repel all the attacks of the enemy.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).

The key word is all. All sickness is caused by the power of the devil. The Good News is that Jesus was able to heal all those afflicted by him. He was able to do this because he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power.

The Physical is Irrelevant

We need discernment to deal with sickness. Too many modern Christians only see the physical cause of sickness. The cause is contact with someone with an infection. This is not a Christian view, but is rooted in the modern philosophy of naturalism or materialism, which assumes that everything that actually exists is material, or physical. Materialism seeks to explain every event in the universe as resulting from biological, social, genetic, environmental or physical interactions. All events are determined by cause and effect, with no spiritual or external influence.

The Bible teaches something quite different. In God's economy, nothing happens by chance. Random events do not stride Christians. Everything in our lives has a spiritual dimension. Everything that happens on earth is an interaction between the workings of God and the machinations of the enemy.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:10).

Although events may appear to have physical causes, the real cause is spiritual. For example, Eli the high priest was blind and could not see (1 Sam 4:15). A physical examination would have shown that Eli had cataracts. However, the scriptures teach that he was blind because he refused to do anything about his son's sins, but "turned a blind eye" (1 Sam 2:29).

An inspection of Job's boils would identify the staphylococcus causing problem, but the scriptures explain that they were actually caused by an attack of Satan (Job 2:7). King Asa sought help from the King of Damascus. He died aged thirty-nine from an infection in his feet, but the real reason was that "even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord" (2 Chron 16:13).

Jesus healed numerous sick people. In each case, it would have been possible to diagnose the infection causing the disease, but from God's point of view, they were "under the power of the devil" (Acts 10:38). Jesus healed a woman who had been bent over for eighteen years and could not straighten up at all. A physical examination would have shown osteoporosis of her spine, but Jesus said, "Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years" (Luke 10:13-16). Christians must look beyond the medical facts and into the spiritual dimension to understand the real cause of sickness.

Minimum Effort Evil

Despite the advance of medical knowledge, cancer still strikes fear. Cancer is a favourite method of attack for the spiritual powers of evil (John 10:10).

They tend to attack the best people. They love cancer, because it enables them to kill and destroy good people who are making a difference in his Kingdom

Cancer is a minimum effort evil for the powers of evil. All they need to do is to corrupt a few cells somewhere in a human body, so that they divide and grow rapidly. For a long time, the tumour will be too small to be noticed, but it is a ticking time bomb. When the time is right, the disrupted cells become a large growth that makes the body sick. If left alone, the afflicted person will die.

The spiritual powers of evil have the skill to produce cancer cells, because they were around at the creation. They helped God create the plants and the animals, so they understood the structure of cells, better than we do.

After the fall, they had plenty of practice corrupting cells and species, during the millennium of evil. Causing a couple of cells to divide and grow rapidly is child's play for them.

The spiritual powers of evil like to work with reproductive organs, because they love to destroy life. Their favourite place is the bowel, because they are comfortable working amongst the excrement of life.

Starting a cancer takes minimum effort, because once a couple of evil spirits have corrupted the cells and set them growing and dividing, they do not need to do anything more. They just wait, and send a spirit of fear to cripple the person further when the time bomb is discovered.

Stolen Strategy

The spiritual powers of evil never do anything creative. They are just doing what they learned to do at the creation, but with a destructive twist.

The idea of rapidly growing and dividing cells was God's plan for the body of Christ. When a group of believers has grown, he wants the best leaders sent out as apostles to start a new group. This process can be repeated numerous times. This strategy was successful for the early church, but for most of history, God's people have rejected his plan.

The devil has stolen the "divide and grow" method and used it to attack the physical bodies of Christians. The sick person becomes anaemic as the growth in their body accumulates and amasses. In contrast, most churches have rejected the divide and grow method and chosen instead to amass and accumulate. They build bigger buildings and try to draw more people in, but this makes them anaemic.

Permission to Attack

Satan is the cause of all sickness, but his powers are limited. In principle, he cannot attack a Christian. He has free reign over those who are not Christians, because they are part of the Kingdom of darkness. He can inflict whatever sickness he likes on them, but Christians are different. We have been rescued us from his dominion and brought into the kingdom of God (Col 1:13). We are covered by the blood of Jesus, so he cannot touch us.

Satan can generally only inflict sickness on a Christian, if he gets permission. Before he could touch Job with boils, he had to get permission from God (Job 2:6). If God has refused, Satan would have been powerless over him. Likewise, Satan cannot strike a Christian without getting permission from someone with authority over our lives. God is not going to give that permission, so he has to get from us. (Christian leaders should be careful that they do not give the Satan authority to attack people who submit to them).

Key 4: One Cause Three ways

Satan is the cause of all sickness. He inflicts sickness in three ways.

  1. Sin gives Satan permission to attack us with sickness. When we sin, we lose God's protection and leave our bodies vulnerable to Satan's junk.
  2. Deception is the other way that Satan gets permission to hit us with sickness. He puts confusing words or thoughts into our minds. If we accept his deceptions, he gains some control.
  3. Direct Attack. Satan is a cheat and will sometimes attack without permission, especially when a person is moving forward for God.

The method for dealing with sickness depends on how we have been attacked.

  1. Repentance heals sin.
  2. Revelation repels deceptions that lead to control.
  3. Resistance repels a direct attack

The cure must fit the cause. The Holy Spirit is able to reveal what we are facing. If the Christian cannot discern it, the elders of the church should be able to help. Once we understand the cause, defeating it is straightforward.

1. Sickness through Sin

We must face the fact that we are sometimes sick because our sin has given the devil access to our lives. This truth is unpalatable, but inescapable. Sin can give sickness right of entry into our lives.

We must be careful about this truth. Some sickness is the result of sin, but some is not. The blind man healed by Jesus in John 9:1-3 is the exception that proves this rule. Like Jesus, we must discern the difference when confronting sickness. We cannot just assume that sickness is caused by sin, but we must be aware that it could be. Here is the truth.

  • All sickness is caused by Satan.
  • Only some sickness is the consequence of sin.

Types of Sin

I am a sinner, so the cause of my sickness will often be sin. This can happen in various ways. Christians should be aware of them all.

a) Personal Sin

Some sickness is the consequence of personal sin. Jesus spoke very directly to the man who had been paralysed when he found him in the temple again.

See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you (John 5:14).

If he continued in sin, he would experience more sickness.

Numbers 12:1,2 records that Miriam became leprous, because she was critical of Moses. David records that he became sick after he sinned (Psalm 38:5-11). Asthma is sometimes caused by fear, and arthritis is sometimes caused by bitterness (see also Luke 1:20; 62-66, Prov 17:22; 16:34; 14:30).

Job said,

If I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
knowing that I had influence in court,
then let my arm fall from the shoulder,
let it be broken off at the joint (Job 31:22).

He is suggesting that a painful shoulder can be caused failure to help the poor.

b) Diet and Hygiene

Sometimes the sin is not caring for our bodies. Lack of sleep and stress can make us sick. Prayer is not the solution to this sickness. We must do something about the stress to be healed.

The Bible has clear guidance on hygienic latrines and washing (Deut 23:11-14); quarantining infections, mildews and dead bodies (Num 5:1-4, 19; Lev 17). Ignoring this teaching is a sin that can cause sickness.

Sometimes the lack of care will be poor nutrition or bad diet. The scriptures provide good advice on diet (Lev 11, 17, Deut 14). God's people were warned against eating fat, long before heart disease became a concern (Lev 7:22). Leviticus warns that we should not eat blood (Lev 19:26). This advice is often ignored, because we don't like Leviticus.

Christians should not expect God to heal them, if their sickness is caused by inadequate diet or hygiene. Timothy had frequent sickness because he was drinking bad water and fasting excessively.

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses (1 Tim 5:23).
Timothy was sinning by not caring for his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul suggested a change of diet rather than offering prayer to resolve this problem.

c) Lack of Rest

A day of rest is a creation principle, so lack of rest can be a cause of sickness. God created our minds and bodies with a need for a day of rest each week to recharge. He gave Israel the sabbath to ensure that they got the rest they needed. Jesus is now our rest, so keeping a sabbath is not necessary for holiness, but a day of rest each week is still necessary for good health.

Individuals are free to decide which day of the week will be their rest day. The day chosen can vary from week to week, if their employment requires. Rest is not the same as worship. For some Christians, Sunday is such a busy day, that they need a different day for rest.

The modern lifestyle is to work eight days a week and take a holiday once a year. Those who live that way will often get sick. The remedy for this sickness is a day of rest each week to reduce stress.

d) Family Sin

The cause of sickness may be a sin in the family. Children can be affected by the sin of their parents. Children who do not honour their parents can shorten their lives (Eph 6:3). Sometimes the sin will have been committed by an ancestor, who has placed the family under a curse (Lev 20:20; Prov 26:2).

e) Church Sin

Sin in a church may be the cause of sickness. The church of Thyatira tolerated the spirit of Jezebel (Rev 2:20-23). This sin allowed many in the church to be sick and depressed. The sin of church leaders can affect the church as a whole. The church in Corinth had meetings that manifested the disunity in the body. Things that seem quite trivial to us resulted in much sickness and some people had died (1 Cor 11:29,30).

f) City or Nation

The sin of a political leader can affect the whole nation. All Israel suffered a terrible plague, because David counted his fighting men in disobedience to God (Sam 24:15). The sin of one man in a position of authority affected an entire nation (Gen 20:3,7,9,17).

Sometimes an entire city or nation may sin (Exodus 32:35). If a city or nation has a common sin, this can result in a common sickness among its people.

However, there is no common curse of sickness (Psalm 91:5-13). Christians do not have to share in the curse on their city or nation. In Exodus 9:5,6; 12:29,30, the Israelites were kept safe when the people of Egypt were cursed for sinning against God, so he can keep us safe in a sinful city or nation.

g) Corporate Stronghold

A corporate stronghold gets control of a city when the religious and political leaders all participate in a sin, such as pride, intimidation or manipulation to enhance their leadership. This corporate sin allows the evil spiritual power behind it to gain control of the city.

If Christian leaders have given the evil spirit permission to be there, it may claim that they have surrendered their authority to it on behalf of Jesus. Christians in the city may be sick, because this stronghold is able to block prayers for healing. It may refuse to surrender to the name of Jesus, because it claims authority given "in the name of Jesus".

A corporate stronghold is put in place by civic and religious leaders unwittingly submitting to a powerful evil spirit, so it has to be broken by the current corporate leaders repenting. If they renounce the stronghold that is controlling their city, it will lose its power. They would also have to commit to forgoing the sin that has enhanced their power.

Key 5: Repentance Heals Sin

If the sickness is the result of sin, the first step is to determine who sinned. This is really important. We should not assume that the person who is sick is the one who sinned. Once we identify the sin and the sinner, we know what to do.

If the sin is personal, the solution is simple: repentance. If the sin has been persistent, the sick Christian may need to confess the sin to friends or to elders to get free. Discipline may also be helpful for getting victory over the sickness.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed (Heb 12:12,13).

If sickness is the consequence of sin in the city or nation, the Christian will need to stand apart from that sin. They must ensure that they are not participating in the community sin, but are standing with those who are resisting it. For example, if their city is resisting the Holy Spirit, they should make sure that they are always moving in the Spirit. They should pray for the city or nation.

If sin in the church is the problem, the person should pray for a prophetic voice to expose the sickness. If the leaders refuse to change, the sick person may need to look for a different church.

If the cause of the sickness is a family curse, it should be broken. Good teaching is available on this topic.

Laying on of hands for healing is pointless if the sickness is the consequence of sin. Many in the church are going forward again and again for prayer, but are not being healed. One reason might be unrepented sin. Prayer for sickness is pointless, if sin is the problem.

Besetting Sin

Sometimes, the sickness may be the result of besetting sin. Many of us have a particular weak point in our character that we battle with for much of our Christian life. (I suspect that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was a besetting sin and not weak eyesight as is often suggested.)

A good example of a besetting sin causing sickness can be seen in the life of Jacob. A weakness in his character was that whenever he got into trouble, he would try to manipulate events, rather than trust in God. He even wrestled with God, rather than trusting him. God touched his hip and gave him a limp, to remind him of his weakness (Gen 32:31). Jacob could not be healed of his limp, until he got victory over his besetting sin that caused it.

If our sickness is caused by a besetting sin, we may not be healed until we get victory over it. This may take time. Strong spiritual support from Christian friends and elders may be needed to speed the process.

Reminder

Some sickness is caused by sin; but most is not. I have explained how to deal with sickness that is the consequence of sin for completeness, but we must remember that this is a dangerous weapon. It can do terrible harm, if it is not used with wisdom and compassion. Saying that a sickness is caused by sin, if this is not true, just dumps a load of guilt and condemnation on the victim. We should never tell any sick person that their sickness was caused by sin, without a clear leading from the Holy Spirit. Even when the Spirit leads in this way, we must challenge the person with gentleness and compassion.

2. Deceptions and Control

Sin sometimes gives Satan access to our lives, but most sickness is the result of spiritual deception. Our minds are a battleground. Deception is a very effective weapon against us, because when once entrenched it leads to control. If the enemy can get us to believe lies about our health, he has control over us. If we agree with his suggestions, we have given him permission to do them.

Evil Schemes

Paul warns us to be careful about our enemy's schemes.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes Eph 6:10-11).

Most Christians think we need the armour of God is to protect us from the power of the enemy. We should get rid of this idea. Paul does not warn about the devil's physical power. As far as Paul is concerned, his powers are feeble, because he was totally destroyed by the cross.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work (1 John 3:8).

We do not need spiritual armour to protect us from his power, because he is powerless. We need the spiritual armour to protect us from thoughts and suggestions that would give him control and allow him to harm us. We should stop worrying about his physical power, and learn to deal with his schemes.

If we are living in obedience to Jesus, Satan can only get permission to attack us by scheming. He must convince us to give him permission to attack us. He gains control by influencing us to agree with his deceptions. This is why we must be aware of his schemes.

His suggestions are the flaming darts described Paul (Eph 6:16). In biblical times, soldiers would attach some tar to an arrow and set it alight before it was released from the bow. These darts were fairly harmless, but became dangerous if they were not quickly extinguished. They could not damage a building, but if they were allowed to burn, the entire building could be destroyed. If they hit a person, their clothes might catch fire. Fiery darts must be extinguished quickly to prevent serious damage.

Key 6: Understand his Cunning Schemes

Satan uses a variety of schemes. He will rarely try to persuade to enjoy sinning, because that would be a waste of time. His schemes are more subtle. When tempting Jesus, he made suggestions about how to complete his ministry. If Jesus had accepted these thoughts, he would have been defeated. Here are some of the schemes that Satan uses to rob us of our health.

  1. An attack of sickness often begins with the acceptance of a false thought.

    God sends sickness
    Sickness is normal

    By accepting these false thoughts, we allow Satan to make us sick. Once we are shaped this way of thought, sickness has a stronghold in our lives.

    Some of these thoughts come directly from the enemy. Other come from what people say to us. Many are the product of our distorted imaginations, but become less frequent as we grow into the mind of Christ. Where these thoughts come from does not really matter, if not dealt with quickly.

  2. Negative thoughts can develop, built up layer by layer over many years, to become a stronghold. It starts with a single thought, then another is added, then more and more. When the enemy has shaped my entire way of thinking about sickness he has a stronghold. It may start with the thought that "God does not like me" when a parent makes a negative comment about me. That may build into "God does not care about me", after rejection by someone I love. The next building block may be "God will not heal my sickness". The final thought might be, "God wants me to be sick".

    The first deception opens the door a chink that leaves me vulnerable to another. The second one pushes it further open. If I allow these thoughts to multiply over many years, they can grow into a stronghold of sickness

  3. Anxiety and worry increase control. Advertisers know that thoughts attached to an emotion are more powerful. This is confirmed by Peter.

  4. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Pet 5:7-9).

    Anxiety can lead to being devoured by the devil. When he suggests that something evil might happen, we can start to ponder it. If we brood over it for too long, we can become anxious. Once we become anxious, we have effectively agreed with his deception. If we do not deal with the anxiety, we are giving the devil permission to have a go.

    Job made an interesting comment about his situation.

    What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me (Job 3:25).
    Maybe Satan was able to afflict Job with boils, because he had feared this happening. Getting anxious about something gives it permission to come.

    Peter reminds us of self-control and faith. We have the power to accept or reject the thoughts that come into our minds. We can reject a bad thought from the enemy by countering it with a thought that expresses faith.

  5. Satan can use people from the kingdom of darkness to attack us. These attacks will usually be verbal. He hopes that malicious gospel or insults will cause to respond in an unchristian way. Christians can be attacked physically. Paul was flogged or beaten by the enemies of the gospel.

Ten Controlling Deceptions

The enemy uses various thoughts and suggestions to get authority in our lives. He does not use that permission immediately, but stores it up for a rainy day.

Strongholds can come in many forms. Our grumbling indicates where we are most vulnerable.

Here are some examples of the deceptions that give sickness control over us. They can build into a stronghold of sickness (2 Cor 10:4).

1. Satan rules

Satan's most successful deception has been to persuade Christians that he was not defeated by the cross. Many now believe that Satan is control of life on earth and will rule until Jesus returns. This evil scheme has gained him a lot of power to mess up the lives of Christians.

2. Sickness is normal

Many Christians have accepted the idea that sickness is normal. We believe salvation is for all, but we believe that healing is only for some. We just accept colds in winter, and we accept infirmity and weakness in old age. However, this is not true. There were no permanently sick Christians in the New Testament.

Sickness is normal for those who have rejected the gospel, because they are still under the dominion of darkness, but is not normal for Christians. Sickness weakens the body of Christ so it should never be acceptable to us

The belief that sickness is normal is the most serious "flaming arrow" that the enemy can insert into our minds. Once we accept this thought, he has permission to make us sick.

3. God causes sickness

The idea that God causes sickness is one of Satan's cleverest lies, but it is still a lie. God is good, so he cannot cause sickness. There is no sickness in heaven, so it cannot come from there. The appearance of someone dying of cancer is enough to prove that it is not from God. It is obviously the work of someone evil.

One of the names of God is Yahweh Rapha (Exodus 15:26). This name means God Heals. God is called "The Healer", because healing is at the core of his being. God the Healer could not cause sickness. The suggestion that he causes sickness is an awful insult to his character. We should never say,

God sent me this sickness.

Sickness was brought into the world by Satan. He created viruses and bacterial diseases. We should never allow him to blame his success on God. Sickness and disease are the work of the evil one.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. He never saw his Father making people sick, so he did not make people sick. God is the Healer. Blaming for his for sickness is a terrible blasphemy.

Persuading Christians to believe that God caused their sickness has been another very successful scheme. If God is responsible for the sickness, then resistance is pointless. Unfortunately, many Christians now believe that their sickness was sent by God.

Those who understand that Satan is the source of sickness will hate it vehemently.

4. Sickness is good

This is a related idea, but sickness is not good. The Greek words translated as sickness are all negative.

asqeneia                    weak
kakws                          evil
malakia              soft
arrwtosnm           feeble

If I say that God has made me sick, I am really saying that God has made me feeble. That is nonsense, because he does not want his people to be weak. The most that can be ever said is that God uses sickness for good, but that does not mean much, because he can use any evil for good.

Paul's visit to Galatia was the result of sickness (Galatians 4:13,14). He described it as a weakness of the flesh. He was embarrassed at being sick. He and expected the Galatians to despise him. However, he did not say that the sickness was God's will, although God used it to accomplish his purposes.

5. God is Sovereign

This is a true statement, but the enemy twists it to mean that God does not always heal. Christians will sometimes explain why they have not been healed by saying, "God is sovereign". No one ever says, "Jesus is sovereign", because it does not fit with our picture of Jesus. We do not say it out loud, but deep down, we think that God is meaner than Jesus.

The truth is that Jesus never refused to heal anyone who came. We cannot imagine him saying, "God is sovereign, so I cannot be sure if you will be healed". He never said to anyone, "It is not God's will for you to be healed. When a leper asked to be healed, Jesus said, "I am willing" (Mark 1:40-42). This settles the argument. Many Christians believe that Jesus defeated sickness on the cross, but they are unsure if God will do it for them. The record of the leper is there to teach us a principle: God is willing to heal. If he is unable to heal, the reason will be in the church. Therefore, we should never say,

It is not God's will for me to be healed

I can say,

I don't have enough faith to resist this attack of sickness.

I cannot deal with this sickness on my own.

My pastor does not have enough faith

I still have sin that I need to deal with.

My church does not have victory over sickness

6. Sickness is Suffering

A common scheme is that God gives us sickness to make us holy. This is not true (sickness usually brings out the worst in me). God does allow his people to suffer, but they should suffer for doing right or for the name of Jesus, not through sickness (1 Peter 4:12-17). In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul listed all the ways he had suffered for Jesus, but he never counted sickness as part of his suffering for the gospel. Jesus never refused to heal someone because God had made them sick to improve their character.

James 5:13-14 distinguishes clearly between suffering and sickness and gives different responses. If anyone is in trouble, he should pray, but if he is sick, he should call the elders. Trouble and sickness have different causes, so they require different responses. Biblical suffering does not include sickness.

7. Sickness is a Friend

Many Christians welcome sickness as a friend. Most of us have used sickness as an excuse to avoid doing something we do not want to do, like work or meeting someone we do not like. When we do this, we are giving sickness authority in our lives. Sickness is a curse, so we should never use it or welcome it. Illness is the kingdom of darkness intruding into our lives, so we should hate it with passion.

The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them (Luke (9:56).

Sickness destroys lives, so it is opposed to what Jesus is doing. He came to save and heal lives.

8. Loose Words

One evil scheme is to send sickness and see if we will give it permission to stay. Some people just accept with casual words. We should be very careful when speaking about sickness, because we receive what we speak (Mark 11:23).

No one living in Zion will say, "I am ill" (Isaiah 33:24).

I should not say, "I have the flu". This is submitting to it and giving it control in my life. I would be claiming something from the devil for myself. It would be more correct to say, "I am being attacked by the flu". I should not say, "I am getting a cold", as this is prophesying something I should hate. I should say "I am being attacked by a cold, but I do not want it.

9. Pleading

Many Christians have been misled into thinking that they must plead earnestly to God for healing. Of course, nothing happens. The reason is that God has already done everything that he can do for salvation (healing). There is nothing more that he can do except increase our faith and knowledge of his love.

Christians should not be begging God to heal them. Pleading only makes sense, if we could change his mind. We often pray like as if he is stingy, but might heal us if enough people ask him. This is nonsense. God is good. He wants us whole. He is not holding back his healing, waiting to see if we are desperate enough. We do not have to change his mind.

Some are pleading with Jesus, because they think he is kinder than God. We do not need to plead with Jesus for our healing, because he bought when he was whipped and beaten. We were healed by his stripes. Pleading with him implies that what he did at the cross was not enough for us. Pleading with someone who died on the cross to do more is absurd.

We do not need to persuade God to change his mind and heal us. We can ask God to give us a revelation of his goodness and love. We can ask God to stir up his elders. We can ask God to increase their faith, but there is no point in asking God for what he has already given us. That sounds like ingratitude.

There is no example in the New Testament of anyone praying in this way.

Dear God, please heal my sick brother.

The reason is simple. From God's perspective, the sick brother was healed when Jesus died on the cross. God has already what has to be done. Jesus work is finished. Everything that he can do has already been done. There is nothing more to ask for. The church should not be asking for healing, but it should be appropriating the health that Jesus has bought for us.

10. Perseverance changes God's Mind

A related deception is that perseverance will change God's mind. This odd idea is based on a false interpretation of the parable of the unjust judge recorded in Luke 18:1-7. Most Christians assume that unjust judge represents God and that if we persist in prayer, he will eventually give in and let us have what we want. This interpretation is a terrible insult to God's character. The unjust judge actually represents the devil. He does not respect justice or care about people. He is a lazy adversary. He does not want to surrender to Gods will, but he is worn down by persistence and gives up, because he has no stamina.

11. Sickness causes Death

Most Christians assume that they will live until they get a sickness that cannot be cured. Death comes when fatal sickness strikes. This view is incorrect. There is a time for everyone to die, but the death of a Christian should occur when their work on earth is complete, not when sickness gets the better of them. Moses is a good example. He died when he had led the people to the Promised Land and his work was complete. Christians should die like Moses when their service to God is finished.

Isaiah prophesied a time when everyone would live a full lifespan.

Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
he who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere youth;
he who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed (Isaiah 65:20,21).

This passage is not speaking about heaven, because people still die. The difference will be that one hundred years will normal and anyone who does not reach one hundred is considered accursed. For Isaiah, this promise was still in the future, but the ministry of Jesus has made it possible for us.

Now that Jesus has dealt with sickness, we should be claiming this promise in him. There is nothing more that he can do in the future, so we should expect this passage to be fulfilled now. Some people may still die young, but only because their work on earth is finished and God wants them to be with him.

Christians do not live until they get a fatal sickness. They should live until their work on earth is complete. Our lives should not end until we have finished all that God has given us to do. The Bible indicates that some people who ought to be living had died needlessly (1 Cor 11:30). That should not be happening.

On the other hand, we should also be careful about holding people back when their lives are complete. By praying for healing, we can stop people from dying. This prayer is not appropriate if their work on earth is finished. In some situations, we may need to give God permission to take home someone we love. This may be important if Satan is trying to stop them from dying (Jude 9).

Key 7: Revelation defeats Deception

The devil uses deception and control to inflict God's people with sickness. Because he was defeated by Jesus on the cross, the solution is relatively simple. God's revelation is stronger than the enemy's lies. We must resist his lies with declarations of the truth.

Paul advised Christians to take control of their thoughts.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:4-5).

Negative thoughts about sickness are "pretensions" that are opposed to God. If we agree with these pretensions, they can give sickness a stronghold in our lives. The solution is to destroy them a revelation of the true knowledge of God.

Resist Dangerous Thoughts

We must resist all thoughts that allow sickness to get a hold in our lives. The permissions that allow sickness to strike were often given many years before the sickness actually came. We must learn to resist all thoughts that give Satan permission to inflict sickness on us. Here are some examples of the types of thought that we should resist.

I catch everything that is going around

Someone has work has a cold, so I am sure to get it.

My mother and grandmother both died of breast cancer,

so I will probably die the same way.

I have a weak chest. A cold always goes to my chest.

I get a headache if I do not have enough sleep.

I feel a cold coming on.

My child gets lots of ear infections.

None of these thoughts is necessarily true. However, agreement with them can give sickness permission to harass us. We resist them with revelation of the truth.

We must extinguish these fiery darts quickly, using the shield of faith

Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph 6:16).

When a bad thought from the evil one comes into our mind, they are best dealt with by words of faith. Simply thinking about a relevant promise of God's will extinguish the thought, rendering it harmless. Dangerous thoughts can be destroyed with a declaration of faith based on the revelation in God's word.

God does not make people sick

Sickness is not normal for Christians

Yahweh Rapha hates sickness

Statements of faith about our knowledge of God destroy the arguments and pretensions that impose him. Anointed songs of praise and worship are a great way to declare our faith.

Jesus resisted the devil's words by quoting the scriptures; he did not argue or shout. He resisted with words, calmly stating the scriptures that were relevant to his situation and claiming them for himself (Luke 4:1-12). He commanded Satan to "get behind him", which is similar to telling sickness to "get lost". This is how to use the Shield of Faith against the fiery darts of the enemy.

Withdrawing Permission

The first step to getting free from existing sickness is to withdraw permission for its presence in our body. This is what the blind man did when he met Jesus.

The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see" (Mark 10:51).

He had probably accepted the thought that he would be blind for life. When he heard about Jesus ministry, he rejected that scheme. He declared his change of mind, by saying that he wanted to see.

Christians who have been sick for a long time can begin the process by declaring that the sickness has no right to be in their body. The best way to is to say,

I want to be healed.

This sickness does belong in my body.

Withdrawal of permission may not be sufficient to get healing. This is a spiritual battle and our enemy is a cheat. If I withdraw permission from sickness, its legal right to remain in our bodies is gone. However, the sickness may try to remain as a squatter or trespasser. Jesus warned that an evil spirit whose lease agreement is terminated will often return with some strong companions and live in the house as a squatter. They do not respect a court order, so they can only be forced out by superior physical power.

When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean . Then it goes and takes seven other spirits and they go in and live there (Luke 11:25-26).

Jesus was talking about evil spirits, but the same principle applies to sickness. If given a chance, it makes a home in our lives.

Destroying Strongholds

Sometimes a stronghold of sickness may need to be demolished one layer at a time. The deceptions may have become so entwined with their thinking, that the sick person has difficulty in recognising them. They may need help from friends with works of knowledge and insights from their experience.

Strongholds are destroyed by the knowledge of God. If the sick person has a gap in their understanding of God's character, they may need Christian friends to teach them the truth.

The LORD is my light and my salvation
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1).
Love of God should be the only stronghold in our life.

3. Direct Attack

Sin and deception can give Satan access to our lives, but sometimes he just attacks directly without permission. He a cheat and will do anything to win. Satan's objective is to steal, rob and destroy (John 10:10). Sickness is his best method for crippling Christians, because most are not aware of where the attack came from. We assume that we just got sick and do not realise that he is attacking us.

We often gradually accept sickness without wondering where it came from. We often get a headache or a sore foot and just accept it, without realising that Satan is trying us out and testing out limits. If we accept insignificant sicknesses from him, he can give us more, when he chooses. He will do this at key times when he wants to disrupt our Christian service. Sickness will usually take hold slowly, but we are gradually being robbed of our ability to serve Jesus.

Our bodies are a battleground and sickness is Satan's weapon against us. The Holy Spirit is our weapon against him. Sickness is a confrontation between the powers of darkness and the power of God. Healing and deliverance manifest the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:2).

The devil often attacks when we go "all out for God". An example from the New Testament is Epaphroditus (Phil 2:26,27). He was so ill he almost died. This was probably an attack of the devil, to disrupt his service of the Lord. Similarly, Satan attacked Eutychus, to disrupt a key meeting between Paul and the elders of the Church (Acts 20:9-11). Tabitha was a key leader in the church at Joppa. Satan tried to halt this work by attacking her with sickness (Acts 9:36-41).

Key 8: Resist Every Attack

The Bible urges us to resist Satan when he attacks.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:8,9).

Submit yourselves, then, to God.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

These verses also apply to sickness. When sickness intrudes in our lives without cause, we should command it to leave.

Sickness can be resisted with words of faith when it attacks. If I feel my foot is getting sore, I should not accept the pain but resist it. God has given me authority over sickness and over my body, so I can speak to sickness and command it to leave my body.

Jesus bought my life on the cross. My body belongs to him. He has not given permission for it to be sick

My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so sickness does not belong in it.

Jesus dealt with sickness on the cross.

Sickness is an intruder that has no right to be in our life. Our immediate response to an attack should be to command it leave.

If we do not resist sickness, we are implicitly giving it permission to be there. We are accepting the lie that Christians can be sick. This is one of the fiery darts described in the previous section. We must resist it with words of faith.

We say no to sin, but do not say no to sickness (Benny Hinn).

Authority and Power

Authority and power are different, and both are needed to destroy sickness. A judge has legal authority, but the police have physical power. A judge can declare that the owner of a property should have access and that a squatter must leave. However, the squatter can ignore the judge. The police have the physical power to remove the squatter from the property according to the judge's decision.

Christian has authority over their lives, but as humans, we have limited very power. The Holy Spirit has enormous power, but no authority over our lives unless we give it to him. Christians have authority over sickness, but we have very little power. The Holy Spirit has power over sickness, but can only act, if he is given authority.

Authority and power are both needed to defeat sickness. I can withdraw the authority of a sickness to be in my body, but I do not have the physical power to force it to leave. Christians must learn to exercise our authority and release the Holy Spirit's power. We sometimes make a lot of noise as a substitute for power, but sickness is not fooled. Only the Holy Spirit has the physical power to force sickness to leave our bodies. I must give the Holy Spirit authority to use his power to force it out of his body.

When I resist sickness, by commanding it to leave, this is like a court order removing its authority to be there. Sometimes the sickness will just ignore the court order. The Holy Spirit authority has the police power to evict the sickness from my body. I must invite him to come and force it out.

Willing and Able

The Holy Spirit is willing and able to deal with sickness.

  • The Holy Spirit has infinite power. The powers of evil are no match for him. When they come up against him, it is no contest.
  • The Holy Spirit loves to heal the sick. He is willing to evict sickness from our bodies.
  • He lacks authority unless we give it to him.

The Holy Spirit is willing and he has the power, but he is respectful when dealing with Christians. He will not force us to do anything. He respects our freedom (authority over our lives) so he will not push in if he is not invited. He will only deal with sickness when the issues of authority and control are settled.

If nothing happens when we invite him to evict a sickness, it is never because he is unwilling or too weak. The only that could prevent him would be that the issue of authority has not been sorted. If something we have said or done is still giving the sickness permission to be in our lives, he will not act against our will (authority). Therefore, if the sickness does not go when we give the Holy Spirit authority to remove it, we must be hanging onto thoughts or pretensions that overrule his authority. These need to be broken before he can go to work. The Holy Spirit cannot destroy these agreements for me. I have to take back the permission from sickness, because I gave it authority in the first place.

Deal with the Mess

When evil spirits leave, they do not clean up the mess they have made before they go. They leave a lot of junk behind. They do not kill their viruses and take their arthritis with them. They do not destroy the cancer cells that they have inserted. They often leave genetic damage that affects subsequent generations. We need the angels to come in and remove the junk. We need the Holy Spirit to recreate the body or restore DNA back to what God created it to be.

Angels support the Holy Spirit. He is holy and good, so he cannot touch evil. The angels do the dirty work that he cannot do. They destroy the viruses, bacteria and bad DNA that the spiritual powers of evil use to create sickness.

The Holy Spirit is creative, so he does not destroy stuff. He undertakes creative miracles. He can restore limbs and organs. In contrast, the angels destroy the junk that evil spirits leave behind when they are pushed out.

They work together. When God is healing cancer, the angels destroy the cancerous cells that the spiritual powers of evil have created, while the Holy Spirit creates new cells to replace them.

In many situations, the command "Be healed in Jesus name" will be sufficient to complete the healing. Sometimes we will need to specifically invite the Holy Spirit and the angels to come and do a complete cleanup.

Key 9: Resist Together

If we are unable to resist sickness on our own, we should invite other Christians to resist with us. Sickness is tough to deal with. Resisting Satan while standing alone is difficult. It is hard to have faith when burdened with sickness. Resisting is hard when we are weak or unwell. We need others to stand with us and do battle on our behalf. If we are under attack by sickness, it is hard to stand alone. This is the main reason that the modern church does not have victory over sickness. Christians are often isolated, so Satan is able to pick them off one at a time. Christians have compassion for friends who are sick, and often ask God to heal them, but they rarely go into battle with them.

Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim 4:20). This is the only case of sickness in the New Testament that was not healed. There is no explanation, but Paul complains that his colleagues had deserted him and left him alone. I presume that he was isolated and under pressure, so he did not have the strength to overcome the attack on Trophimus. No one was standing with him.

Victory over sickness comes from being in relationship with Christian friends, who will go into battle against a sickness attack and push through to victory.

Christians need to be with people who have victory over sickness.

Two or three people have more authority than one standing on their own. The sick person might not be that confident in resisting sickness. If some friends join in declaring that the sickness has no legal right to be in his body, the sick person will be more resolute.

The faith of friends can be really important.

  • The paralytic had friends with faith for him to be healed (Luke 5:18).
  • The man by the pool had no friends to stand with him (John 5:5-7).

A sick person may be so overwhelmed that they struggle to have faith and speak with authority. The key thing that the friends can add is extra faith.

Key 10: Resisting in Rest

All Christians should abide in Jesus. We must avoid a false understanding of spiritual warfare that confuses resisting with striving. A flurry of activity and noise will not gain victory over to spiritual attack. We do not need to "babble on like the pagans" (Matt 6:7). Victory does not come from many words or noisy commands. These activities are reliance on human strength, which is a sin.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (Is 35:10).

We must be careful not to get into striving against the enemy, because that makes us weak. Satan was defeated by Jesus on the cross, so all the "heavy lifting" is done. We resist the enemy by "standing" in what Jesus has finished. We will need to learn much more about resisting while resting in Jesus.

This becomes easier, if we understand the usually works by bluffing us into accepting his authority and power. We can resist his ideas by thinking or speaking the promises of God. This does not require a noisy activity. We resist sickness by declaring words of faith and inviting the Holy Spirit to force it out. The Holy Spirit does the physical work, so we do not need to strive or make a noise.

Elders

If the attack is really tough, we should call in the big guns. This is why James urged the sick person to go to their elders.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14).

If Christian is unable to deal with the attack with the help of friends, their elders should be able to do the job. The elders of the church should have experience in dealing with serious attacks of sickness. They will join with the friends of the sick person to get victory.

Peter and Dorcas

Peter showed what how elders should deal with sickness when Dorcas died in Joppa. He went to Joppa as an elder, because something was wrong in the Church. The devil had scored a home run in this infant church, so Peter sent and tipped the battle back the other way.

I am not sure why there were no elders in Joppa to deal with this problem. It may be that no elders had been raised up at this early stage of the gospel advance, or maybe the elders were inexperienced and just accepted that Docas's death was inevitable. Anyway, some of the disciples knew they should call on an elder to deal with the attack.

Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!" (Acts 9:38).

Peter came to Joppa and took the battle to the enemy.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up (Acts 9:40).

Peter prayed and got assurance from God that her life on earth was not complete. Once he knew that this was an attempt by the devil to take out a key leader in a fledgling church, he resisted the devil by commanding her to sit up. She was healed immediately. Peter restored the church in Joppa to the way God wanted it to be. Sickness and death had intruded where they do not belong, so Peter got rid of them.

Another example is Paul speaking to the Church in Troas. A young man called Eutychus fell out the window and died. Paul went down and laid on him to bring the man back to life. Paul was acted as an elder to correct something that had gone wrong in a church. The devil had killed a key young man whose role on earth was not finished. Paul restored him so that the church would be complete. If he had let the devil win, the church would be weaker in two ways. It would lose a valuable member, but more importantly, its level of faith would be weakened. A good elder could not let that happen.

The Armour of God

We put on the armour of God so that we can stand against the devil's schemes (Eph 6). Some of the flaming arrows of the evil are attacks of sickness and disease. In Psalm 38, flaming arrows represent sickness.

For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body (Psalm 38:1-8)

David described his sickness as arrows that destroyed his flesh. Job also described his sickness as arrows in his flesh (Job 6:4).

The armour of God can be seen as protection against the two ways that sickness attacks: sin and deception. Three pieces of armour protect against sin. The other three protect against deception and control.

Spiritual Armour

Sin

Sickness

Breastplate of Righteousness

Righteousness in Christ protects us from sin and condemnation

Shield Of Faith

Faith resists the lies of the enemy. The promises of God are received by faith

Helmet of Healing

Jesus' salvation has dealt with all sickness

Belt of Truth

Truth about God is the best protection against deception and control

Gospel of Peace

Meditating on the cross and the gospel is the best antidote to the sin of pride

Sword of the Spirit

We can use the word of God to fight sickness and destroy spiritual strongholds

The Holy Spirit can teach us how to defend together with these weapons. The Shield of Faith in Ephesians is oblong like the shields used by riot police. Roman soldiers could form a line and lock their shields together in a continuous barrier. If one was attacked, the others did not watch and criticise (as often happens when a Christian gets sick), they joined together to protect him against the attack. When they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with shields in place, they could withstand a powerful attack. Christians should copy this model. This level of solidarity does not come automatically from being part of a church, but by being in strong relationships with other Christians, who can know us well enough to see how we are being attacked and love us enough to stand with us.

The spiritual armour verses are preceded by a chapter on submission. We cannot use the spiritual armour in isolation. Even the shield of faith cannot cover our backs. The spiritual armour is only effective, if we are standing together in submission to each other.

Key 11: Resisting means Submission

In Ephesians 6:10-18 the word "stand" is used three times. The Greek word translated as "stand" is "histemi". It means to stand, stand firm, make a stand or hold one's ground. It is from the same root as "resist". When attacked by sickness, we should stand against it. We stand against it, and we stand in what we have received.

Peter said something very similar. There is a clear pattern in 1 Pet 5:5-9:

  • Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
  • Submit to your elders
  • Submit to God
  • Be vigilant
  • Resist the devil
  • Stand in the faith

Too many modern Christians (some quite mature) are wandering around on their own. We have too much independence and too little submission. Submission has become a dirty word, but without submission, we cannot be part of the army of God.

Submission and Spiritual Authority

When we submit to each other, we are giving others the authority to speak into our lives and to act on our behalf against evil. This is a key to getting victory. God has made me free, so another person can only have authority in my life, if I give it to them. I give another person authority in my life by submitting to them. If I submit to the elders in my church, they have authority to resist evil on my behalf. The more I submit to them, the greater spiritual authority they will have to resist any evil that is attacking me.

This relationship between spiritual authority and submission is not well understood. We often ask other Christians to pray for us, but without much effect. The reason is that they have very little authority in our lives. They cannot have authority, if we have not given it to them.

We tend to assume that a large number of people praying for us will be more effective against the attacks of the enemy. This is not correct. When resisting evil, two or three Christians who have real authority in our lives, because we have submitted to them, will be much more effective. Asking a lot of people to do battle with us is pointless, if we are unable, or unwilling to submit to them.

Submission and authority go together. The word translated as "resist" is the Greek word "ant-histemi", which literally means to "stand against". Therefore, resisting is the same as standing. The meaning of the word "submit" is to "place ourselves under". Therefore we must stand under Gods authority before we stand against the devil.

When Paul said that elders would watch over and care for us (1 Tim 5:17), he used the Greek word "pro-histemi, which means "stand before". When we submit to elders, they are standing before us and with us. The word "stand" is plural in the Greek New Testament. Standing is not something that we do on our own. We must stand together with others to achieve victory. A soldier who stands alone is easily defeated.

The Letter of James

This sets out the pattern for dealing with sickness, whether through sin or spiritual attack. James outlines a two-level defence against sickness.

 

Sin

Sickness

 

 

Christian Friends

Therefore confess your sins to each other. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:16,19)

Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:16-18)

 

Elders

If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (James 5:15)

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.(James 5:14,15)

At the first level, we have Christian friends. If we sin, they will challenge us. We can confess our sins to one another to get free of the sickness brought by sin. If we have accepted wrong ideas about sickness, the will help us to see the truth. If we have been attacked by sickness, our friends can pray together with us, once permission has been withdrawn, and force it to leave. Victory over sickness comes through strong relationships with other Christians.

At the second level, we have elders. If our friends cannot get victory over serious sickness, we bring in the big guns. Elders should be able to deal with sickness, whether it comes by sin or by deception or direct attack. If there is a problem with sin, the elders will have the discernment to get to the bottom of it and get the sick person forgiven. If the sickness remains as a squatter, the elders will have the faith needed to force illegal sickness to leave. Victory over sickness comes from being submitted to elders who have the faith to heal.

The text of James 5:14-15 is interesting. It says that the elders should pray "over" him, or more literally "upon". This gives the sense that the elders will pray about the person's situation. They will do this to find the cause of the sickness, before deciding what to do.

The remedy is interesting too. James does not tell the elders to pray in the feeble pleading way that we often pray. He actually does not use the usual word for prayer. He uses the Greek word euch ,which can also be a vow, so a "prayer of faith" is not a request to God, but a strong declaration of faith. The elder's words should have a prophetic edge. Elijah is quoted aas n example. He did not ask God to send a drought, he simply declared that there would be no rain or dew for three years (James 5:17; 1 Kings 17:1). This is the earnest prayer or declaration of faith that heals the sick Christian.

The word used for "sick person" is kamnw, which comes from the word for toil and primarily means to be tired or weakened. The verb used in the expression "the Lord will raise him up" is egeirw, which means awaken from sleep, or figuratively to raise from the sleep of sickness. This gives a picture of a person who has been overcome in the struggle against the enemy's attack being stirred up and strengthened by the faith and declarations of the elders.

The message of James 5:14-16 is very simple and not hard to interpret. It says that the sick person will be healed. There are no ifs, no buts and no exceptions. The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. It is hard to argue with that.

Key 12: Faith is Essential

Faith is the key to claiming our inheritance. The scriptures teach that we receive everything earned by Jesus through faith. If we remember that salvation and healing are the same word, Eph 2:8 can be translated as,

By grace you have been healed, through faith (Eph 2:8).
Without faith we cannot receive the healing that God has promised (Heb 11:6)

Faith is not a desire to be healed. Nor is faith a belief in the truth of Christian healing. We can believe that Jesus wounds earned healing for Christians, but not have faith to receive healing. Demons believe that God exists, but they do not have faith to receive salvation. Faith is a certainty deep in our being that God will do what he has promised. It is acting on what is believed.

Faith and Action

According to Romans 10:9, faith has two aspects. It begins with belief in the heart. What is in the heart is then manifested in some word or action.

Faith = {Believe in heart
                {Confess with lips

The Greek word for confess is "homologesis". It literally means "same word". When confessing the truth, we agree with God's word.

Faith is certainty in the heart, but it also requires some action to make it real. Faith without action is just a rattling gong (James 2:17,18). This can be seen in the healings described in Matthew 8,9. The person being healed always took some action or made a declaration that demonstrated the faith in their heart.

  • The leper said to Jesus, "You can make me clean!"
  • The centurion told Jesus not to come, but just say a word.
  • The ruler said, "Put your hand on her and she will live."
  • The bleeding woman touched Jesus garment.
  • The blind men said, "Yes!", when asked if he was able to heal them.

Each person made a statement or took an action that demonstrated their faith.

Faith is Evidence of the Unseen

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says that,

Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1 NKJV).

Faith is not the same as hope. Hope is uncertain, whereas faith is certain. Many Christians hope that God will heal them, but that is not the same as faith. Faith gives substance to hope. The word substance can mean title deed, so faith gives me ownership of what I hope for. (The Greek word translated as substance (hupostasis) is linked to the Greek word for submit.)

Faith is evidence or proof of things that we cannot see. The Bible tells us that there are two types of "things" in this life: seen and unseen.

We do not look at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (1 Cor 4:18)

The things that we can see are temporary. The unseen things come from God and are eternal. Faith is being certain of things that are not seen. God may have promised them to us, but we need faith because we cannot see yet seem them. When we receive them, we no longer need faith, because we can see them. Faith is only required for things that are unseen.

Living by Faith

Paul told us how Christians should live.

We live by faith, not by sight (1 Cor 5:7).

We should not live according to the things that we can see. We live by faith, which is certain about the things see we cannot see. God has promised,

By his wounds you have been healed (1 Pet 2:24).

The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well (James 5:15).

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

These verses are the eternal promises of God. They promise things now that we do not yet see. We cannot see Jesus wounds or the healing they have earned. We cannot see the demons and sickness fleeing. Faith is being certain of these things and living as if they have happened.

If I have money in my bank account, I cannot see a heap of notes and coins with my name attached to them. I will have a bank statement that is evidence of what I have in my account. My wallet may be empty, but I can go into a shop and buy something using EFTPOS with full confidence that I can pay for it. I have faith to make purchases, based on the evidence of my statement. I do not act on the basis of the empty wallet that I can see, but on the basis of the money in my bank account that I cannot see. I will only run into problems if the bank does not keep its promises, or if I spend more than is in my account.

Christians know that God will keep his promises. His word states that Jesus has earned healing for us. If Jesus has put healing "in the bank" for us, we can start living as if we have got it. In this context, faith is acting as if I have received the healing that Jesus earned for me. My symptoms may say that I am sick, but the Word of God says that I am healed. This is the conflict between what is seen and what is unseen. Faith is certain of what is unseen.

If I continue to walk everywhere, after someone has bought me a car, most people would say that I am a fool. This suggests that there is something wrong with a Church that continues to be sick after Jesus has purchased healing for it. We urgently need the faith to appropriate the health that Jesus bought for us.

On the other hand, faith is not presumption. Belief in the heart must come first. If we have faith, action will follow; but action will not produce faith. Confessing or acting without faith is presumption. Faith is a gift from God. We must receive faith from him before we can do anything.

Symptoms

Abraham showed the correct way to deal with symptoms.

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith (Rom 4:19,20).

Abraham faced his symptoms squarely. He did not pretend they were not there. He faced the facts, but did not waver through unbelief. His faith was not weakened, but was strengthened by the promise of God. Despite the symptoms declaring his age, he continued to prepare for the birth of a son.

The problem for modern Christians is that we can see the "things that are seen" very clearly. We have scans and X-rays that help us to see tumours and fractures much better than was possible in the past. We have tremendous evidence of the things that are seen and tend to focus on them. We have become accustomed to living in accordance with what we can see. We must learn to live in the certainty of the promises of God that are not seen.

Sickness among Christians is not proof that God does not heal. God dealt with my sin on the cross. The fact that I still sin does not imply that God does not save us from sin. It just shows that I am a bit slow to take up the salvation that Jesus had earned for me. The problem is with me, not with the cross. In the same way, the fact that I am sick does not imply that God does not heal. The problem is with me (or more likely the church). We should never let our experience determine our theology. Our theology and our beliefs about healing must be based on what God has said and done.

Increasing Faith

The first step is for the church to be honest about its lack of faith. We should not pretend, or go into condemnation, but should look to God for a solution.

  1. We can pray for faith (Mark 9:21-24). The Holy Spirit will increase our faith if we ask for it.

  2. We should immerse ourselves in the biblical accounts of Jesus' healing. Faith comes from hearing the Word (Rom 10:17). As we feed on the promises of God, our faith will grow.

  3. We should seek to be filled with the Spirit. Faith is a gift from the Spirit (1 Cor 12:9), so the Holy Spirit is the source of faith. Stephen and Barnabas were men who were full of the Spirit and Faith (Acts 6:5,8; 11:24). People who are full of the Spirit will also be full of faith.

  4. We should start on easy things. As we rejoice in small victories, our faith will increase. Seeing miracles increases faith (John 2:23).

  5. We should get with other Christians to pray. Christians should work in a group. There are several reasons for this.

    • There is power in agreement. Jesus promised that when two or three people work together, he would be with them (Matt 18:19,20, Acts 3:4,5).

    • Faith is strongest when we function with other Christians we trust. Peter and John had faith to heal the lame man, because they were operating together (Acts 3:4).

    • Working in a group releases the gifts of Spirit.

Faith overcomes fear. This is important, because fear of sickness is something that we have to deal with. The word cancer really strikes fear in people's hearts. The trouble is that fear kills faith (Luke 8:50). As faith grows, fear will be squeezed out.

Practical Issues

Pray in Private

Understanding the cause of sickness will dramatically change the way that the Church ministers to Christians. The process will be much slower, but more thorough. Ministry to sick Christians should generally take place in private, often in someone's living room. The sick person will ask some friends or the elders to come to him to pray for him (James 5:14). A lot of personal stuff may need to be dealt with, and this is best done in private. The sick person should not be prayed for at the front of the Church, in view of the entire congregation. Doing this is a distortion of the other healing stream. Publicity is fine, when using the healing gifts for evangelism, but praying about the cause of sickness should be done away from the public gaze.

Peter demonstrates this contrast. He healed a paralytic in Joppa in public.

There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord (Acts 9:33-35).

Peter was operating as an evangelist, so the healing was public and many came to the Lord. When he got to Joppa, he operated differently, because Dorcas was a Christian. Peter he went into her room and prayed on his own. He did not know the cause of her illness, so it was best to seek the Lord in relative privacy. The cause might be something that would embarrass her friends and family if it was revealed in public. The Lord might have told Peter not to worry, because he wanted Dorcas to come home, but I suspect that he already knew that was not the case when he decided to go to Joppa. Peter out what was going on in private.

Work in Teams

Several people will pray about the sick person. James talks about elders (plural). There might be a team of elders and a couple of friends present. Having a healing team will ensure that all the spiritual gifts needed are present. We should not expect one person to do everything. If someone gets a word of knowledge about sickness, we should not assume that they have the faith to heal for the sick person. The Spirit may have given the gift of faith to someone else in the body. For example, when the man at the beautiful gate was healed, Peter did the talking, but he said, "Look at us" (Acts 3:4)! John may have had the gift of faith that produced the healing.

A solo minister is not appropriate when praying for Christians, because they are unlikely to have both the faith and the discernment needed. The gifts of discernment and word of knowledge will often be more important than the gift of healing. The latter gift is more important for the evangelism, but discernment will be more important in a healing team dealing with Christians.

Four spiritual gifts might be needed to get a sick Christian healed: word of knowledge, discernment, faith, healing. The Holy Spirit can give all these gifts to one person, but he prefers to give them to different people so they will need to work together, as this strengthens the body.

Get the Reason

The first step is to find out why the enemy has been able to inflict the sickness. This is really important. Nothing can be done until the cause has been identified. The healing team will wait on God (for several days if necessary) until they know whether the sickness is the result of sin or deception or direct attack. The gift of discernment and word of knowledge will be important for answering this question. Again, this is very different from the modern ministry of healing, where the first step is to pray for the person to be healed. Praying is really pointless if the reason for the sickness is not known. This is the key reason why many Christians are not healed. Once the cause is understood, the team can deal with it.

1. Sin

If the healing team discerns that the cause is a sin, they should be compassionate when conveying this to the sick person. They may need guidance from the Holy Spirit about how to communicate a hard message. Nathan spoke to David in a parable, when he needed to see that he had sinned (2 Sam 12:1-7).

The sick person may need time to work through the issue. The solution to sin is repentance, but only the Holy Spirit can produce repentance (John 16:8). The healing team will give the Holy Spirit time (often several days) to do this work. Praying for healing before repentance is complete might lead to lack of victory. Once the person has repented, they may need to confess the sin to their friends or to the elders. Those who confess their sins will be healed (James 5:16).

Once the person repents, the symptoms of the disease should disappear, but sometimes prayer by friends or elders may be needed to shift them. The healing team will declare that the sickness has no longer has any authority to remain with the person and command it to leave. They will release the Holy Spirit to restore the parts of the body that are damaged. Faith will be important.

The prayer of faith will make the sick person well (James 5:15).

2. Deception and Control

If the sickness is the result of deception and control, the process will be different. The emphasis will be exposing the thoughts and beliefs that give the sickness authority to attack the Christian. A word of knowledge or gift of discernment might be needed to expose any spiritual strongholds or controlling deceptions.

Once the root of the problem has been exposed, the healing team will join with the sick person in withdrawing any permission that has been given to the sickness. They will unite in inviting the Holy Spirit to force the sickness out. They will give him permission to do his job.

3. Direct Attack

If the sickness is a direct attack from the enemy, the healing team will resist the sickness directly. They will not plead with God to heal the sick person, but will resist the sickness by commanding it leave.

Persistence

Getting complete victory may take some time. This is the nature of spiritual warfare. Sometimes an initial attack may fail and the army may have to retreat and regroup before attacking again. Even when the army has a quick initial victory, the battle is not won. The enemy may counterattack again and again over several months, before giving up.

Satan does not give up, just because he gets one hiding. He always tries to come back. The healing team must be ready for these counterattacks. One of the healing team will keep in regular contact with the person healed. They will help him avoid thoughts or words that would give the sickness permission to return. They will pray for his faith to be strengthened.

If the sickness returns, the team will come together to deal with it. They will not blame the sick person for lack of faith, but will see it as a problem they must deal with together. The team will stay on the case until Satan gives up and goes off somewhere else. This is a battle of wills, but if the Christians understand their authority, they will always win.

Walk in Health

The person healed will learn to walk in the truth. John prayed that believers would live in health.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (2 John 3-5).

We must live in the truth that Jesus destroyed sickness.

Deal with Failure

Those praying with sick Christians must always deal with the consequences of their actions. We are human, so things will not always happen as we expect. If things go wrong, we must find out why and deal with it. We must never, never dump the responsibility for our failure on the sick person. Elders have a particular responsibility in dealing with any failures. If we just leave the person unhealed, they will feel that they do not have enough faith or that God does not love them. They will just end up feeling condemned and vulnerable. This undermines the faith of the church.

Sickness can be hard to handle, so we must not pretend it is easy. If we cannot get victory over sickness, the church and especially the elders should accept responsibility. They should be willing to admit that they do not have enough faith. Leaders must stop dumping their lack of faith on people who are sick. Many of their people in their churches long to be healed. They have prayed and tried hard to believe. They should not be condemned. The failure lies with a Church that has been robbed of its inheritance.

The time has come for this burden to be lifted off the sick and put back where it belongs; on the church. The first step is for the church as a whole to take responsibility for its lack of faith and failure to get victory over sickness. Then we can then start seeking God's his solutions. We can get together and start battling through to victory, until we receive all that Jesus promised.

Avoid Perversity

Lack of faith is a serious problem for the modern church and the reason we receive so little. Jesus called his generation an unbelieving generation (Matt 17:17,19-20). In many ways, the same description applies to the modern church. We have been made into an unbelieving generation by our education and scientific approach to life. We have forgotten that true science cannot deal with the spiritual dimension to life.

Our lack of faith is perverse, because Christians trust many odd things:

  • Copper bracelets,
  • Bee venom,
  • Oils
  • Magnetic blankets

Christians talk about their favourite cure, but we seldom hear them declaring what God can do. Some of the things they trust do work for a time. Satan is quite happy to take away the symptoms for a while, to get us to trust in a lie. However, in the end, the only way to deal with a satanic attack is to stand against him holding the shield of faith. Like the man beside the pool, Christians are looking to other things, when they should be looking to Jesus (John 5:7).

Spiritual Covering

Spiritual protection is not taken seriously by the modern church. Spiritual warfare is not something that we are free to do when we choose; we are engaged in it all the time. While we know we are on the winning side because Jesus has won the victory, we can never be complacent

Part of the problem is the many Christians have been deceived by a false doctrine of "covering". This doctrine states that we are covered and protected from evil by submitting to a pastor/leader or being part of a church. However, there are several problems with this doctrine.

  • The doctrine of covering is not taught explicitly in the scriptures, it is based on an allegorical interpretation of Boaz' garment in the book of Ruth and the cloud in Exodus. The robe and the cloud are symbolic and not the cause of protection. Trusting in a vague and ambiguous doctrine of spiritual protection is dangerous.

  • The covering doctrine makes spiritual protection into something magical. Belonging to a church does not automatically guarantee a person is protected from attack. In reality, protection comes from being in relationship with Christians who recognise an attack and will battle through to victory with us. Ruth was protected because Boaz was a man of authority and she submitted to him. The Israelites were protected by the presence of God under the spiritual authority of Moses.

  • A pastor can only provide protection that is as good as his own. Modern Christians do not realise that the pastors/leaders they trust are extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack themselves, so they cannot provide strong protection. Pastors and elder who don't have victory over sickness cannot provide protection to their people.

Christians everywhere are being decimated by evil because they do not understand the real nature of spiritual protection. Spiritual protection is critical for protection against sickness.

Key 13: Live in the Right Place

Territory and geography are really important for spiritual warfare (Dan 10:20; Eph 1:21; 6:12). The spiritual pressure in a city or country is not evenly distributed, so the place where we choose to live or work may affect our health.

  • If we live close to the stronghold of the spiritual forces that dominate our city, we may experience stronger attacks of sickness. Christians are often heroic and choose to live in the toughest part of the city. However, a wise general attacks where the enemy is most vulnerable, not where it is the strongest.

  • If the intensity of the Holy Spirit's presence is strong in the area where we live, because there are more Christians there, walking in health will be easier.

  • When a Christian lives in isolation from other Christians, they will be more vulnerable to attacks of sickness.

  • If we work at a business, where the people in authority are defeated by sickness, we may experience stronger attacks of sickness. By submitting to their authority, we become vulnerable to the same attack. We should be aware of this and stand against that sickness.

  • Some Christians have been attacked by sickness when they moved from a spiritual stronghold where they were safe to a house in a "better area" under more spiritual pressure. The quality of the housing will be a poor indicator of the spiritual pressure in an area. Spiritual pressure is discerned spiritually.

Christians should be aware of the spiritual implications when they change their place of residence. We may be called to move to an area that spiritually tougher, but we should be prepared. If we are defeated by sickness, changing locality could be the key to getting victory over sickness.

We should be establishing spirit-free territory, where they are safe from sickness

Accusations

The book of Job explains that his sickness was caused by the spiritual powers of evil. He got sick, because Satan was able to accuse him. He is a prosecutor who attacks God's people by making accusations against them.

Satan accused Job of serving God with impure motives. He said Job was serving God for what he could get out of it. He claimed Job's love of God was really selfishness.

By making this accusation, Satan gained the right to take away Job's wealth and health. He supported his accusation with testimonies from people who knew Job well.

Jobs friends came to comfort him, but when he refused to admit that he deserved his pain, they got frustrated and revealed their true thoughts about him. They accused him of greed and deceit (Job 15:5; 18:7-9; 20:19-20; 22:6-9).

People do not change their opinions about others. If Job's friends believed he was greedy and deceitful after he had suffered, they would have believed it while he was prosperous. They might not have accused Job to his face, but they would have spoken their accusations to each other, while gossiping about him.

When Satan appeared before God, he said that Job was deceitful and greedy. This is exactly what Job's friends said when he was still prosperous. The testimonies of Job's friends carried weight because they knew him well. Satan was able to make his accusation to God, because he had three reliable witnesses.

A principle of God's justice is that facts are established by the testimony of three witnesses (Deut 19:15). Satan did not make up his accusation. He just repeated the words of Job's friends. Because they were friends of Job, God had to accept their testimony. Their testimony proved Satan's case against Job, so he was legally entitled to inflict sickness on him.

God's people should understand the role of the accuser. He is looking for witnesses with a testimony he can use. When we criticise other people, Satan can pick up these testimonies and accuse them before God. If he can find three people saying the same thing, he has the right to afflict the accused person with sickness.

Many Christians are sick, because brothers and sisters in the Lord have spoken words of accusation against them and Satan has taken these words and used them as testimony to accuse them. Before they can be healed, the power of these testimonies must be broken.

Jesus warned his followers about the dangers of "careless words" (Matt 12:36). Some careless words become testimonies that Satan can use to accuse other Christians. He likes testimonies from Christians because they have more credibility. He can say, "This witness is a Christian, so their words must be reliable."

Breaking Accusations

If someone is not healed, it might be because the accuser is using accusations against them. The power of the accusations will have to be broken before the person can be healed. The method depends on the nature of the accusation.

  • Some accusations will be true. That does not matter because Jesus dealt with all our sin on the cross. If an accusation is true, the person accused can agree, but declare the fault was already dealt with by the blood of Jesus. Acknowledging the truth of an accusation and covering it with Jesus blood is sufficient to break its power.
  • Some accusations will be untrue. We can break their power by refusing to accept them and proclaiming God's truth instead. For example, we can declare that we are pure and blameless, because we are washed in the blood of Jesus.
  • If the accusation takes the form of a negative prophecy, we can crush its power by declaring God's truth. Promises and prophecies that God has specifically given to the person are the best antidote.
Job appealed to God. The Fathers testimony about him overturned the testimony of his friends and Job's health was restored.

Anyone struggling to be healed should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any accusations that are holding back their healing.

False Testimony

Under the biblical model of justice, the person who gives false testimony against another can be given the penalty that their testimony would have inflicted on the victim of their lies (Deut 19:16-19). When God restored Job, his friends could have experienced what they had allowed the accuser to inflict on him. Fortunately, God asked Job to pray for them (Job 42:7-8). God heard Job's prayer and protected them from the consequences of their false testimony.

Some Christians will be sick, because they have given false testimony against a brother and sister, and they are receiving what the person they were accusing would have received, if their testimony had been accepted. A false accusation can harm a brother or sister, but it can also fall back on us, if our testimony is confirmed as false.

If the Holy Spirit convicts us of speaking words that have harmed a brother or sister, we should ask the Lord for forgiveness. We should declare to the spiritual powers of evil that we are withdrawing our testimony and that we will not testify against the person they are trying to harm.

More at Accusations

Key 14: A Big Issue

Many Churches and Christian have prayed earnestly for sick people without success. In some churches, these disappointed people have been prayed for over and over again, but nothing has happened. Most have a deep sense of disappointment and have given up all hope of being healed. Some have been hurt by accusations of lack of faith. This enormous backlog of hurt and disappointment with God has never been sorted.

The sad thing is that when disappointment is frequent and unresolved, the disappointed people get offended by God. This offence produces unbelief, which shuts out the power of the Spirit.

One of the greatest obstacles to healing in the church is unbelief that has come through offence at God for not healing people we expected to be healed. We have used our disappointment in the person not being healed to justify our offence.

Offence is a silent, insidious sin that is mostly buried and hidden. When we are offended by someone, we often say nothing. The other person may not even know that we are offended. However, the offence still infects our relationship by eating away in our hearts and tainting everything we say and do.

Most Christians who are offended at God over sickness have never said what they feel out loud. They just have this feeling of being let down by God. The wrong attitude is often buried so deep in our hearts that we do not know it is there. However, it taints our thoughts and words and spoils our relationship with God. Buried offence makes faith difficult. We must deal with this issue, if we want to see the breakthrough in healing that many are seeking. This topic is covered in more detail in the Rock of Offense.

Big Question

I am convinced that a major obstacle to the release of healing is offence at God. As Christians have prayed earnestly for people that they love to be healed of sickness without success, their hope has gradually subsided into despair. Because they have not been taught about the danger of being offended at God, they have often asked the wrong questions. The most common question is this.

Why did God allow this to happen?

This is a very dangerous question, because it puts God on trial. It assumes that he is responsible for what happened. If the grief is deep, the question can easily be tinged by accusation and blame.

If the big question is not quickly turned around, the questioner will be offended at God. A more dangerous question soon follows.

Can I trust God?

The motivation behind this question is offence at God. It kills faith and shuts up the Holy Spirits power. This question often turns into a statement.

God does not heal everyone

This is serious, because God cannot work in the midst of people who doubt his power or willingness to heal.

Be Honest Always

That does not mean that we cannot be totally honest with God about what is happening to us. We can say,

This pain is tearing me apart

My heart is so heavy that I feel it will break.

I know how I should be responding, but I just cannot do it.

We do not need to pretend. We can tell the Father about our feelings and our struggles. He can cope with honesty; but we must not tell God what he should be feeling or doing. Job is a good example. He let it all hang out, but one important thing that he did not do. He refused to accuse God.

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22).

When dealing with pain and death, we can be honest with God about what is going on in our lives. He is glad when we are open with him and ask for help. However, we must guard our hearts lest our pain turn into disappointment or offence with him. We must never question his power or his love.

Parable

A man had two sons. The oldest did not want to work for his Father, but wanted to start his own business in a far country. His Father gave him a million dollars two get started and off he went. The son never got round to starting the business, but frittered the money away. When the money was nearly all gone, the son contacted his Father and said that he realised that he was not cut out to be a businessman, but needed to work for someone. He did not want to work for his father, because he wanted a position where he could use his creative skills. The Father organised for a business contact who owned a film-making business to employ his son as a creative director on a huge salary. The son only turned up to work a couple of times, so soon the son was living in poverty. Some of the friends of the son started asking, "Why does his Father allow his son to live in poverty". Those who knew the father responded, "His Father is a good and generous man. He has done more than most Fathers would do. What has the son done?"

Asking why God allowed a Christian to die is an insult to his character. God is good. He did not create sickness and there was no sickness in the Garden of Eden. Sickness was created by the devil after the fall. He invented cancer and tuberculosis. If anyone wonders why God did nothing about this, the answer is that he did. God sent his son Jesus as a human. The flesh of Jesus back was ripped and torn by Roman whips.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed (Is 53:5).

His wounds provided healing for anyone who will believe and receive. Jesus anointed his people with the same Holy Spirit and commissioned his church to heal the sick and cleanse the leper. Given what God has done, we should be asking a different question. We should be asking why the Church had not fulfilled its commission.

Good questions

We must learn to ask the right questions. If a Christian dies, we tend to ask,

Why did God not heal him?

Why did God allow him to die?

We should be asking,

Have we misunderstood the Gospel?

Have we misunderstood God's promises?

Did we get something wrong?

Why is our Church so powerless?

Why do our elders not have victory over sickness?

Of course, we should ask these questions without going into condemnation. We are human, so we will often get things wrong. All that God expects is that we learn from our mistakes and grow in faith.

Key 15: Elders and Pastors are Responsible for Sickness

While Christians are asking why God allowed someone to die, a totally different question is being asked in heaven.

Why did the Church allow that person to die?

Jesus has earned healing for his body, so he expects the Church to put this victory to work. The main responsibility rests with elders and pastors.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church (James 5:14).

This is a challenging word for elders and pastors of churches with sickness. God has said to them:

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy (Matt 10:8).

Your prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well (James 5:15).

God has given elders and pastors responsibility for healing their people, so they should not be appointed until they have proved they can resist sickness in their family and household. The qualifications of an elder say that they will "care for the church" (1 Tim 3:5). The Greek word translated as "care" is only used in one other place in the New Testament. The Good Samaritan used the same word when he asked the innkeeper to "care" for the wounded man until he was well (Luke 10:34,35). Care includes healing of sickness. Potential elders should have learned to deal with sickness in their family.

Warning to Pastors

Ezekiel had a severe warning for pastors who do not heal sickness in their flock.

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock... You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured (Ezek 34:2,4,5).

He says that God is angry with the pastors who do not heal the sick in their flock. They should be helping those who are being attacked by the enemy and setting them free. In God's eyes, healing the sick is more important than preaching sermons. This is a serious challenge for elders and pastors.

When Jesus saw the people suffering from sickness and disease, he was filled with compassion (Matt 9:35,36). He knew they were harassed by Satan and like sheep without a shepherd (pastor). He did not ask God to heal them, but prayed that God would provide good shepherds for them. Many Christians are still harassed and without a shepherd. The Church desperately needs pastors and elders who can set their people free from sickness.

Teaching people to be satisfied with sickness is not the solution, because it devalues the work of Jesus. The disappointment will only disappear when the church is walking in all that God has promised and established through Jesus' death and resurrection. Healing is the only antidote to this disappointment.

Christians should expect their elders and pastors to heal their diseases. If they are sick, the problem is with their leaders, not with God, so crying out to him will be a waste of energy. Sick Christians can pray that God will stir up their elders. They can ask him to give them insight and wisdom. They can pray that their elders will grow in faith and the power of the Spirit, but seeking God for their healing makes no sense, because he expects pastors and elders to do the job.

Questions for Pastors

When a Christian dies of serious sickness, his pastors may wonder why God allowed it. Few will hear God saying what Ezekiel heard,

You have not healed the sick or bound up the injured.

We should stop saying,

Why did God allow this to happen?

Some better questions would be,

Why did our elders allow this sick person die?

Why were our elders unable to heal the sick person?

Are we praying enough for our elders and pastors?

God appoints and anoints elders and pastors with the power to heal the sick. He does not mind if they admit that their faith is too weak, but they should be careful not to blame him for their failure.

If pastors and leaders allow their people to get offended at God over sickness, they are letting them blame God for something, which they should be doing. This is a dangerous game, because if Christians stop blaming God, they might start blaming their pastors and elders. Allowing people to blame God seems to be easier than taking responsibility for dealing with their sickness.

Prophets are Responsible Too

Prophets also have responsibility, as they are experts on the truth. They should be exposing the lies of the enemy. The main reason Satan has been so successful in spreading his lies is that the prophets have been asleep. God's prophets should be destroying his deceptions.

Many Christian prophets have adopted the Old Testament prophets as their heroes, but they have not realised that their heroes all healed the sick. The prophets heard God's voice clearly, so they knew sickness came from the devil. That is why they fought against it.

The prophetic ministry was given to build up the body of Christ. An important aspect of the prophetic task is exposing the lies that weaken the body. The church needs prophets and pastors working together for victory over sickness.

Prophets should be declaring God's word against sickness

He sent forth his word and healed them (Ps 107:20)

We need more prophetic words against the schemes of the enemy:

John will not die, but live to the glory of God.

This man will complete the work he was called to do.

Jesus prophesied to a blind man.

Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you (Mark 10:52).

The church needs prophets to speak the truth about healing.

Conclusion

Many Christians have been praying earnestly for healing but their prayer not been answered. Many pastors have been praying for people who go forward at their meetings to be healed, without getting victory. The problem is that we have our spiritual wires crossed. The biblical pattern is clear.

Non-Christian

Christian

Healing is based on Grace

Needs a Gift of Healing

Healing is Gift from God

Healing part of the covenant

Needs a spiritual victory

Getting what is already ours.

Most Christians are using the wrong method when they deal with sickness. We are trying to use the gifts of healing for Christians when we should be using them for the lost in evangelism. Christians are asking God to heal them, when he has already done everything that is necessary for salvation (healing). Christians should not be asking God or to heal them. They do not need to plead with Jesus for healing. He has already provided healing for us when he was whipped and beaten. We do not have to ask for it, but we do need to appropriate what he has already been given to us. We receive what is ours by faith. We also need to learn to resist Satan, standing in faith.

God has given his people authority over sickness, and Satan (Matt 10:1):

  • Christians have authority over sickness in their bodies
  • Fathers have authority over sickness in their family
  • Christians have authority to heal unbelievers
  • Elders have authority against sickness in their disciples.
  • If we resist the devil together, he will flee.
  • Christians preaching the gospel have authority to heal unbelievers.

Instead of asking God to heal us, we must use our authority to get rid of sickness.

Christians should be claiming the full promise of the Gospel. When Jesus was flogged, his skin was torn open and his muscles lacerated by several pieces of glass or bone on the end of the whip straps. Only death was necessary for forgiveness of our sins. Jesus body was broken for our healing. If we do not walk in his healing, his pain was wasted.

This article outlines some important biblical principles. Of course, principles alone will not bring victory over sickness. No one has ever been healed by a principle. Healing comes through the presence of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. Faith comes from hearing the voice of God. We must learn to hear the voice of the Spirit, so that we know how they apply to the situation we are facing. As we follow the leading of the Spirit, his power will be released in our lives.

The Parable of the Five Sons

A rich man was going overseas to live. Before leaving, he sent his eldest son to buy a new car for each of his six sons. On his way home, this son was killed in a car accident, but the other cars arrived safely. The father locked the new cars in a large garage. Before leaving, he gave each of his five remaining sons a key to the garage and told them to use their cars and enjoy them.

When he had gone, each son tried to open the garage with his key, but none of them could get the lock to open. They tried and tried, but they could not get into the cars.

They often telephoned their father and asked him to give them a car. The father would say, "I have bought a car for each of you and I have given you the key to the garage". The sons did not realise that all five keys had to be used together to open the door. In the end, they gave up trying to get at their cars and just got used to walking.

People were surprised to see the sons of a rich man walking. If someone asked why they were walking, they would reply. "Our father does not want us to drive in cars. His will is for us to walk. Walking has improved our patience and perseverance. Accepting that we cannot have everything we want has been good for our character".

They stopped asking their father for a car. They believed that by walking without complaining and accepting their fathers will, they were growing in maturity.

They would sometimes look at their keys and wonder wistfully what it would be like to drive a good car. However, they would quickly put the keys away, because they didn't want to doubt their fathers love. They never thought to ask their father how to use the keys.

Meanwhile, the father living overseas was sad. Sitting in the garage were five lovely cars, one for each of the sons. They would have been perfect for his sons.

The five cars in the garage were:

  • Holden Commodore

  • E-type Jaguar

  • Audi

  • Lexus

  • Saab

These cars had all been paid for in full, but they had never been used. The saddest thing was that buying the cars had cost the father the life of his eldest son.

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