(2 Corinthians 4:13-18)
We talk a lot about sickness and healing in church as Christians. And the bible shows HEAPS of examples where the Lord and the apostles walked amongst the people healing the sick. So it raises the question today, why do Christians get sick?
I see churches who run healing meetings at and I must say I sometimes have a bit of a laugh about it. A sign out the front of the church that says, “Come and Be Healed…7:00 – 9:00 AM Tuesday’s” or something like that. It always sounds to me like, if you don’t turn up then, you won’t get your healing.
But it does raise a good question when we look at all those healings in the bible and yet we don’t seem to see them today. Well, this scripture today should give us some comfort and help explain why this is the way it is, and we will look at what the Lord has provided for those who do get ill.
It’s a Spiritual Walk
The first thing we have to understand is this walk we take in Christ is not about the flesh. The working of the new covenant is all about changing the heart and spirit of those who come to Christ.
This is why Paul wrote these words to the Corinthians in this scripture today. Take note of what he is saying:
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
First up he tells us not to lose heart. If you are ill, don’t lose heart and don’t ever, EVER give up on the Lord. This is especially so for those who are plagued with diseases that cannot be cured by medicines or surgery, but can only be managed with medication.
As Paul said, and I will repeat here…don’t lose heart, but continue to seek the Lord.
The next thing Paul tells us clearly is that our outer self IS wasting away. We are going to get old. We are going to get sick. We are going to suffer diseases. And in the end our bodies are going to die.
But never mind all of those things because all of these things are matters of the flesh, not the spirit. The very next thing Paul says is that even though our outer self, that is the flesh, is wasting away, it is our inner self, our spirits that are being renewed, strengthened and changed daily as we continue to walk with Christ.
It is our spiritual walk that is important. The afflictions of the flesh are just a momentary affliction, even if those afflictions happen to be diseases or conditions that last our whole life. Compared to the ETERNAL weight of glory that we will have with Christ, these afflictions are truly momentary.
So take heart and do not allow the problems of the flesh to destroy the transforming work of the spirit. Don’t allow the things that are seen and are transient, that is, the problems of this world, to overtake the things of the spirit that are unseen.
Remember also the words of Jesus who said,
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. – (John 6:63)
The aim of the teachings of Jesus and the truth of the new covenant is about the spirit. The flesh is unimportant in the total scheme of things.
But because we do have to live in the flesh while we walk this earth, the Lord has not left us without any help. If the problems, issues and health matters of the flesh were of no concern to Him, He would not have bothered with all those healings.
God never wants His people to suffer when it can be avoided. So He set up processes for the church to deal with the problems of the flesh while He transforms the spirits of His people through the working of the Holy Spirit in us.
First of all, God blessed certain people with medical skills to understand the workings of the body so that they can help those who are suffering. The bible tells us:
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. – (Romans 13:1-2)
Now I am sure that this includes the medical authorities and I personally believe that God has instituted them to help people so they do not suffer in the flesh. And Jesus also said,
And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. – (Luke 5:31)
Now while Jesus was talking about sin and repentance in this section, the words He used showed that He was agreeing that the medical authorities do have a place and a purpose in dealing with those who are sick.
So never let anyone cast judgement on you for being unwell…and there are some Christians who will cast judgement if you are ill. I have personally met Christians who lived in self-condemnation because of the false teachings on divine health, and because they were suffering various conditions, diseases or illnesses.
Anointing With Oil
But we don’t just have to rely on the medical authorities when we fall ill. The Lord has provided a method where we can receive His healing. It is the process of anointing with oil as described in the book of James.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. – (James 5:14-15)
The Lord provided the sacrament of anointing with oil to help the church deal with sicknesses among the people of the church.
When someone is ill in any way they can come to the elders of the church and ask to be anointed with oil for healing.
This is the process the Lord established for the church. The Lord also instructed the apostles and disciples, when He sent them out to preach the gospel while He was still on the earth, to anoint the sick with oil to heal them.
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in their belts- 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. – (Mark 6:7-13)
Jesus taught the disciples to anoint with oil for the healing of the sick, and that process is still on offer to all who seek it today. Seek out the elders of your church and ask for anointing with oil if you are unwell.
Will it always work? Well, I believe it does otherwise we would not have this sacrament in place. But having said that, we sometimes have to go through some illnesses and afflictions to learn to lean on the Lord for strength.
Which takes us back to the point of the scripture under review in 2 Corinthians 4. Illnesses and afflictions are a momentary affliction and we must remember that and not allow our suffering in the flesh to get in the way of the transforming power at work in our spirit.
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