But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5
This passage in the book of Isaiah is one of the hundreds of Messianic prophesies that points to Jesus Christ. Numerous Cessationists attempt to argue that the phrase in Isaiah 53:5 only refers to spiritual healing, which is the salvation of those who believed, and not also to physical healing. They are quite biased in their interpretation of the passage, ignoring the fact that the Hebrew word for “healed” (Heb. rapha) can also apply to literal healing as well as spiritual healing. Furthermore, the Hebrew symbol for this word is a man’s head with an open mouth. To make sense of these images, this might also suggest that a man who is wounded, sick, or unwell is cured using medicines manufactured from plant materials that have been pulverized into a medicinal power when they drink it.1 However, the Hebrew word for “healed” in this text can relate to both spiritual and bodily healing which is possible based from the context of the passage.
Is it possible for people to have bodily healing in their physical bodies immediately after receiving Christ’s salvation? Yes, I believed so. I will not limit an omnipotent God’s power to accomplish this. This happened with the two blind men who believed in the Lord and were healed even though Jesus had not yet been atoned for. This, however, is not a formula to follow; rather, it is a divine action by God based on that person’s relationship with Him. Because we have varied levels of relationship and maturity with the Lord, God moves based on how we relate to Him through faith. Many people feel frustrated because they believe healing occurs quickly after someone quotes the verse. Although this is possible, healing can also occur as a result of our spiritual walk with Him and our constant faith in Him.
Two Healing Extremes
I recall a cult organization that discourages members from seeking medical attention, believing that this demonstrates a lack of faith. As a result of their extreme practice, their loved ones die. Many individuals also feel dissatisfied with those Christians who exhibit faith without wisdom.
When it comes to praying for healing, there are two extremes. The first is when we become so focused on science and medicine that we lose sight of God. This is what happened to King Asa when he placed such a high premium on his physicians that he overlooked God as the ultimate Healer.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. – 2 Chron. 16:12, NIV 1984
On the other hand, we can over-rely on supernatural healing to the extreme where we forget God can also use medical and scientific studies to restore our physical health while remaining confident He is still the ultimate Healer. Paul is pragmatic enough to encourage Timothy to consume a little wine during their stay to kill certain intestinal bacterias probably from untreated water.
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. – 1 Tim. 5:23, NIV 1984
The thorn in the flesh that Paul stated may be any physical ailment, but many commentators feel it is an eye issue due to the huge fonts he used in his writing (see Gal. 6:11). Whatever his condition, the Lord told Paul that His grace is still sufficient for him (see 2 Cor. 12:7, 9). When we face hardships in whatever kind, such as sicknesses, maladies, diseases, or infirmities, the Lord will always remind us that His grace is sufficient for us, allowing Christ’s power to rest (or abide) in us.
Not All Diseases Share A Common Cause
Unhealthy eating habits do not cause all diseases and illnesses. There are also diseases caused by bitterness, worry, tension, or unconfessed sins against the Lord. David kept everything to himself after committing a heinous transgression against the Lord by having an affair with Bathsheba and murdering Uriah. This act soon became a stronghold, causing him to become physically ill. This is why he admits,
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah – Psalm 32:3-5
David also writes,
The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” – Psalm 41:3-4
Some Cessationists argue that this text refers to spiritual sickness rather than bodily sickness. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the context clearly indicates that David was sick and ill. And his confession of sins is in connection with his desire for healing. In reality, the Hebrew text is translated as “heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee” in the King James Version.
The Lord Jesus Christ also forewarned the sinful woman,
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” – John 5:14
It’s no surprise that the apostle James advises the believer,
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16
It is critical that a person confess (acknowledge) his sins to the Lord in order to be free of the enemy’s guilt and condemnation. These form a stronghold in the life of a believer. This form of confession is known in psychology as “catharsis,” which means “the process of releasing, and thereby receiving relief from, powerful or repressed emotions.” This “process of releasing” entails confessing our sins to God so that we can feel relief knowing that our sins have been forgiven. It is also crucial to communicate your situation with a mature Christian so that he or she can pray for you.
Whether we are healed or not, our lives must always reflect the Lord’s glory and honor. There are bodily afflictions and illnesses that cause people to praise and glorify the Lord (see Jn. 11:4). But there are sicknesses, ailments, and diseases that exist solely because God allowed them to happen. The Lord does not directly cause us to be ill or sick, but He permits these things to happen in order to deepen our faith and put our love for Him to the test (see Job 2:3–7) An illness, on the other hand, could occur without any connection to sin and only for the purpose of glorifying God (see Jn 9:2-4). We are, after all, at His disposal. Who can question the potter’s handling of clay? As Paul writes, “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Rom. 9:21). Whatever transpires, God’s goal for us is still to prosper us rather than harm us, to give us hope and a future for the greater glory and praise of Christ (see Jer. 29:11).
Scars That Reminds
Finally, all Christians will have pristine bodies in heaven, free of sickness and disease. The physical scar on Jesus Christ, on the other hand, will stay to remind us of His sacrifice and unwavering love. When Thomas touched his nail marks and side, he exclaimed, “My Lord and My God!” (see Jn. 20:20-25). This demonstrates that the scars were not removed and continue to exist despite the Lord’s glorified physical body. The enormous sacrifice and anguish put on Jesus Christ, which resulted in a scar, will be there for all eternity. It will continue to remind us that we are spiritually and physically healed and made whole by His stripes (see Isa. 53:5).
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. – 3 Jn. 1:2
1 Rick Meyers, e-Sword 8.0.1. See also Dr. Frank T. Seekins, “Hebrew Word Pictures,” (Phoenix, AZ: Living Word Pictures, Inc., 1994)