It seems everything today comes in a nutshell. Cable headline news. Bite-size, impacting ads. “In a Nutshell” was the title of a hot, end-of-century country tune (and even nuts still come that way).
By the grace of God we don’t have to put up with Satan’s shaming tactics
Since this is mainly a book on why some Christians aren’t healed, I must condense divine healing into the proverbial nutshell. It’s not as hard a nut to crack as some have made it. Healing and nuts aren’t so different after all. While the nut sometimes requires powerful intervention to break open, the insides are not so complicated. But there is a lot to chew on – here’s some food for thought.Is Healing God’s Will?Why do we even ask if healing is God’s will? Is it God’s will that we be saved? Can you see someone coming to Christ and saying, “Jesus, save me, if it is your will”?Remember the man who came to Jesus and asked Him to heal him if He was willing (Luke 5:12-13)? Jesus plainly said He was willing. It is His will.Look how many times it says in the gospels that He “healed them all” (Mat. 12:15, Luke 6:19, Acts 10:38, etc.
But God doesn’t want us to sin or to be sick
). He never refused to heal anyone. Would He have healed all that came to Him if it wasn’t His will?Ted Williams made baseball history by batting over .400. That’s only a 40% success rate.
In the problematic verse 7, the above translations both render the word “buffet” as “torment
God bats a thousand! His perfect will is to heal 100% of those who ask. He is a perfect hitter. The problem is that our hindrances keep Him from stepping up to the plate and going to bat for us.The only place Jesus was hindered from healing all was in His hometown (Mark 6:5). They couldn’t believe anything good could come from the “local yokel.” So even though our Healer is a perfect hitter, He rarely goes to bat for those who refuse to believe.Does Sickness Glorify God?When I played little league baseball, I got in some tight situations at bat. I would have loved to have my boyhood idol Mickey Mantle step in and pinch-hit for me.You would think that people who get in tight spots health-wise would like nothing better than to see Jesus come to bat for them and save the day.Doesn’t every sick person want to be made well?I always thought the answer to that question was an obvious yes. But since I have been serving in healing ministry, I found that many people don’t answer yes to that question.That revelation came as a shock to me. I thought everyone would welcome the good news I related: God promises to heal every one of our diseases. Wow! What great news!But what a shock I got! Many sick Christians don’t even want to be healed! What a sick way of thinking!From the least to the greatest, many Christians today think their illness glorifies God! And God is not going to heal those who are happy to be sick!When someone dares say it is God’s will they be healed, that offends some. How dare insinuate that these righteous sick people might be imperfect in any way? I guess they would prefer to blame God, who supposedly uses sickness to glorify His name.All this confusion makes God “sick”! He never intended His children to be ill or that sickness should become a badge of righteousness.Those, like me during my illness, who feel holier than the healed, are not the sweet-smelling savor in God’s nostrils they think they are. Their attitude stinks to high heaven!Some Christians in wheelchairs justify God not healing them by saying it helps them understand others who are sick. That may be, but that’s not God’s perfect will.Do we sin so we can understand sinners? We may use our past life of sin to minister to sinners, but Jesus warns us: “Go, and sin no more!” It’s the same with sickness.Jesus never once told lame people it was better if they stayed lame to better minister to the lame. He told them instead, “Get up and walk!” Jesus treats sin and sickness the same. He hates both! Do we?God’s will is that Christians in wheelchairs get up and walk! Then they can really minister to others in wheelchairs: they can heal them (Mark 16:18)!Admittedly, it is true that illness can sometimes draw us closer to God. Sin can too, if we turn back to God in heartrending repentance. But God doesn’t want us to sin or to be sick. It is indeed rare that He directly uses sickness to further His plans for us. And, of course, He never tempts us to sin. The Devil does that.I will rejoice when paralyzed Christians finally realize it’s the Devil that wants them handicapped. God wants them healed! I can think of one precious, paralyzed sister in singing ministry who can one day sing out as she kicks her wheelchair aside, “Tada! I’m healed!”We must not confuse God’s permissive will with His perfect will. God meets us where we are in our spiritual walk and understanding. He meets us in our mediocrity in order to lead us into His perfection.He can turn our lemons of sin and sickness into lemonade. But His perfect will for us is more than lemonade in a paper cup. Our Father wants to pour us some bubbly Dom Perignon vintage in a crystal glass. He wants to bless His children with the best.Jesus can redeem anything. Even sin teaches us bitter lessons and thus works for good as we use our mistakes to help others and empathize with them. But sin is not good of itself, is it?Sin and sickness are bed partners. They both, sooner or later, bring death. Sickness puts you to bed and sin puts you to sleep – permanently. They are part of the curse that came upon man after his wrong choice. Sin and sickness would not be around if the Devil had not entered the world.Sickness may sometimes work for good, but sickness, like sin, is not good of itself. It does not come from God – except as a rare judgment upon us when we have hardened our hearts and need help to repent. Jesus disciplined Miriam with leprosy (Num.12:10), judged some careless Corinthians by allowing them to get sick and even die (I Cor. 11:27-32), and warns His idolatrous people of Thyatira, “I will throw her on a bed of sickness … and I will kill her children with pestilence (Rev. 2:22-23).Sickness never glorifies God, even when it comes as discipline from Him. He wants us rid of all sin and sickness. Healing and health glorify God.What I shared earlier may sound heretical, but it is Biblical: God allows trials of all sorts to build character in us, but He does not want us to be sick. As we grow from glory to glory and faith to faith, perseverance in faith for a short time may be necessary before we actually see and feel the manifestation of the healing promise in the natural realm. If the healing manifests instantly, we no longer need faith to believe in it.One famous evangelist sincerely misled millions on a talk show in 1999. He shared with Larry King a common misconception about Paul’s thorn in the flesh that many Christians accept without serious study. This Christian leader basically said his illness was God’s will, as was Paul’s, so he could be humble. This book clearly debunks that idea.I understand how easy it is to believe that error. I did. And I don’t intend to judge the motivation of those who believe it. I believed it because it encouraged and even justified me as I faced the humiliation and shame of two devastating mental illnesses. As with Paul, or so I thought, it was God’s will, and so it was good.Good? What are we, masochists? I lost my sanity, my family, my money, my ministry, my reputation, and I came close to ending my life by suicide. And that’s supposed to be good? I could do without the “blessing” of sickness. Death is our enemy. And sin and sickness bring death.Would you want your children to be in pain and die of an illness? Why do so many accuse our perfect Parent of such a sadistic approach? Would you “bless” your daughter with terminal cancer? Think about it!Trials, in a general sense, are indeed good for us. But Jesus paid for our sins and our sicknesses. He suffered pain and death for us – in our stead. That’s the covenant He made with us.Is Healing for Today?Is this covenant binding today? Is healing for today? What a question! God is the “high noon” God, as the Greek of James 1:17 reveals, with “no variation or shifting shadow.”Some think God is a fickle God like Baal who keeps His promises whenever He feels in a merciful mood. One pastor said that from the pulpit! It is not God’s will to heal only 5% of His people today. It is His perfect will to heal all today as He did 2000 years ago.Jesus’ name is Yahweh Rapha – the Eternal Healer. He is not – as some think – the “Has-been Healer.” Yahweh means “I am.” To those who say He doesn’t heal today, He thunders, “I am the HEALER!” (Deut. 32:39-40). He hasn’t changed His mind about who He IS! Unlike some people today, He’s not trying to “find Himself.” He has no identity crisis. He’s not on strike.Strikes were frequent in the years I lived in Paris. “I love Paris in the springtime,” and all the time. It’s beautiful. But when the garbage men strike, it stinks! And the garbage that some preach – that God is on strike – is a stench in God’s nostrils!Healing servant Rodney Howard-Browne says it best. In a little story he tells, he mocks the idea that healing ended with the apostles – (an idea disproved by church history). The last living apostle, gasping for breath – near death – reaches a dying man who had called him for healing. Just before the apostle can lay hands on the poor man, the last apostle keels over and dies. “Sorry, fellow. You’re out of luck!” The last apostle is dead. Too bad for that man and for all the other Christians down through the ages. Tough luck!How ludicrous! Jesus said that we, His disciples, would do greater works. We should be seeing more healing – not less.There have been healings throughout the history of the church, with powerful healing revivals at certain times. The coming end-time revival promises to be the greatest of all as God pours out His Spirit to prepare His bride. Jesus said the gospel – the whole gospel – would be preached throughout the world.”You gotta go sometime!”The full gospel involves a full life. While it is true that we have an appointed time here on earth, Satan the Terminator wants us to die before our time. Nobody should die of disease. The “you gotta go sometime” fallacy has “gotta go”!God promises long life to the righteous (Ps. 91:16; 118:17; Ex. 20:12). He’s the One “Who redeems your life from the pit [of destruction, terminality – referring to a ditch or grave, meaning untimely death]” (Ps. 103:4). Since the flood, God has allotted us a life span of 120 years (Gen. 6:3) . That’s how long Moses lived. Sin and speaking death over ourselves have shortened it, but it doesn’t have to be that way (see “Prayers” in the Appendices: Psalm 91 and Prayer of Protection and Long Life).God doesn’t want us to die sick. It is possible to die of old age – simply to peacefully breathe your last breath. God wants us to die in peace – not suffering from one of Satan’s gifts! Read how Moses was feeling when he died: “… his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever” (Deut. 34:7 – NLT). Way to go, Moses! Indeed, I can’t think of a better way.It is true, of course, that our body may weaken considerably with age (Eccl. 12). But that is because of the ravages of sin and is not God’s perfect will. And illness, whether it comes in our youth or in our golden years, is definitely not God’s will for us. If you have arthritis or a heart condition, don’t blame God. He wants you to get rid of your hindrance and be healed. Then you can die when your appointed time comes – in peace and without suffering. God is good all the time – even when you’re old.If we declare daily in faith that our youth is “renewed like the eagle” (Ps. 103:5), it will be!One Christian lady in her eighties appeared on TV and gave an astounding testimony. Speaking out in faith God’s promise of youth repeatedly on a daily basis transformed her lame frame into youthful splendor. She looked like an extremely attractive 35-year-old. At the time our house of healing was a house for abused and abandoned teenagers and some young adult males stayed here as well. The managing director asked them if they would date this lady. They didn’t hesitate. “Sure!” was their enthusiastic answer. When he told them she was in her eighties, that didn’t matter!Paul’s Thorn and Other Thorny QuestionsSome believe that if we don’t die early, we must suffer in the flesh – do penance – in order to please God. They say we need some “thorn in the flesh” like Paul’s to keep us humble.It never ceases to amaze me how people can take one or two verses to come to a conclusion that the whole Bible soundly contradicts. The Bible does not contradict itself. If you think a verse contradicts the rest of the Bible, you’re mistaken. As Peter warned us in II Peter 3:16, Paul’s writings are “hard to be understood.” And those are the ones people twist the most. His explanation of his “thorn in the flesh” (II Cor. 12) is a blatant example.Paul had just boasted of his “infirmities,” better translated in the NASB and NIV as weaknesses. Not once did he mention sickness as a part of the many sufferings he endured. In the problematic verse 7, the above translations both render the word “buffet” as “torment.” It means to beat back and forth. Note that God does not use the word “afflict” here, which would refer to a physical illness.And who did the buffeting? “A messenger of Satan.” I decided to cut through the hermeneutical heresy by asking the ten-year-old child of a Christian what a messenger of Satan was. He simply answered in two words: “a demon.” The truth comes out of the mouth of babes. This word is translated 100 times in the Greek Scriptures as “angel.” An angel of Satan is a demon. It takes a doctorate in theology to miss that obvious fact.The infirmities or weaknesses or torments Paul was referring to were the result of a demon buffeting him, as explained in chapter 11. With all the talk about shipwrecks, beatings and a host of other trials, one phrase is missing: “in sicknesses often.” God does not send sickness to humble us, even though sickness may affect us in that way. He uses other methods. Paul’s thorn had nothing to do with illness.God would be contradicting Himself if He had said that He gave Paul an illness that He would not heal. He wants us free of hindrances – healed and completely whole.The only other time “thorn in the flesh” is used in the Bible is in Numbers 33:55. It refers not to illness, but to people – the inhabitants of the land whom the Israelites refused to drive out. The demon that buffeted Paul used people to beat him and persecute him.Verse 7 does not refer to illness, but Galatians 4:14-15 and 6:11 do indicate that Paul suffered from a physical ailment, probably an unsightly eye condition that resulted from the temporary blindness God used to call him when on the Damascus road. This is decidedly not what God is referring to in the “thorn” verse, since it is always God’s will to heal.The thorn in the flesh was a demon God allowed to pester Paul with persecutions and calamities. Thorns never have a positive connotation in the Bible. Although He may allow them, they always come from Satan. The common assumption that the phrase, “there was given me” (II Cor. 12:7), means God gave the thorn to Paul is simply not true. The thorn was a “messenger of Satan,” so Satan sent it – not God.The full meaning of this chapter would take several sermons to explain. Although the risk of being misunderstood is great, space allows only a brief explanation.As explained before, Paul did not fully understand his identity in Christ until near the end of his life. He is exposing his own mistakes and weaknesses so we can learn from them, and even he probably did not fully understand at the time what God meant when He said that His grace was sufficient.Some of the trials or “weaknesses” mentioned, such as imprisonment and persecution, were indeed God’s will for Paul. He wrote some of his greatest epistles in prison and he rightly rejoiced in persecution. Many of those trials, however, were attacks from Satan that Paul did not have to endure.Although there are 25 graces that come from God, the most important meaning of grace is the concept of empowerment. “My grace is sufficient” is not permission from God to let the Devil beat up on us. He gives us the grace or empowerment to overcome. Paul didn’t have to spend a night hanging to a plank from a shipwrecked vessel. If he had known who He was in Jesus, he could have done like Jesus (and even Peter in his pre-Pentecost state) by walking on the water and rescuing his partners. He was hungry and thirsty because of demonic backlash from cursing Barnabas and Mark. God allowed certain of these problems so Paul would settle some issues in his life that he had not been willing to turn over to Jesus.Jesus was saying to him, “You can handle all these situations, even eliminate some of them, by My empowering grace. Why are you asking me to take away the thorn of Satan? I have already given you the power and authority in My name to defeat Satan. Don’t whine. Don’t beg Me to do something I have already given you the power to do! You have My name, My blood, My gifts, My righteousness and My glory. What else do you need?”God allowed these “weaknesses” or troubles – this opposition from Satan – to make Paul strong. And the apostle was “boasting” in Jesus’ power to endure necessary hardship, as well as to overcome what the Devil was throwing at him.Many have stumbled over these verses because of the way they have been translated. And yet when we rightly divide the Word of truth, comparing Matthew 13 with Isaiah 28, we realize that just as the Word in human flesh was a Stone of stumbling, so the written Word is a test. Many – even believers – fail to pass. What the Word seems to say in the translation is not always what it truly means.Satan wanted to buffet Paul so he would give up on his visions and revelations – not praying them out and causing them to come to pass – so he would not be able to fulfill his anointing. The demon’s plan was to keep Paul busy with attacks so he would not exalt himself in a proper way above Satan and exert his apostolic authority. Satan wanted to shame him so he wouldn’t fight back.God endured Paul’s whining prayer three times. Finally, God had enough of Paul shaming himself in this crying mode. “And He said to me, ‘My grace [empowerment] is sufficient for you [I’ve got all you need, Paul], for power is perfected in weakness [troubles, buffeting].’ Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses [the buffeting Satan tries to give me], so that the power of Christ may dwell in me [I will boast about Jesus’ power in me to be victorious in these difficulties]” (verse 9).”Suffering shame for the cause of Jesus is praiseworthy, and God’s grace can empower us to endure that gracefully. Allowing Satan to rob us of our joy and bring shame upon us is a different matter altogether. By the grace of God we don’t have to put up with Satan’s shaming tactics.The important point to remember is that God never wants us to put up with Satan’s lying symptoms of illness. That was not even the question in this thorny verse.The eye condition in Galatians 4 was what I call in this book the “halter hindrance.” A halter is a restraining rope, as used on horses. Since God requires more of leaders, in rare cases He refrains from healing a physical condition that restrains or limits one of His servants. He has every intention of healing it when the leader corrects the spiritual problem (see Chapter 18, Hindrance No. 14).The “eye halter” was put on Paul to correct the pride of the former eminent pupil of Gamaliel. Paul said with his mouth that he no longer had this pride. But God wanted it destroyed down deep in his heart.We don’t’ know for sure exactly when or if Paul learned the lesson and his halter was thus lifted. It does seem from II Timothy 4:7 that Paul finished his course with success. So it is likely that God healed the eye condition before Paul’s death. But that is between God and Paul.It is God’s Word and His promises that are infallible, not men – not even great men of the Bible. David and Elijah were men of “like passions” as we are (James 5:17, Ps. 51).”Sick” ExcusesElisha, who died of an illness, was also quite human. Some use his death from an illness in II Kings 13:14 as justification for the fact that some servants of God today die of illnesses. They believe it must be God’s will. It isn’t.The Holy Spirit has shown that God allowed Elisha to die from an illness because he was an angry man. Elisha had not chosen to ask God to rid him of this hindrance of anger, as seen in II Kings 13:19. To whom much is given, much is required. Elisha had double the anointing of Elijah, so God expected much from him. Although healing was God’s perfect will for him, Elisha did not follow God’s perfect will in eliminating his anger problem. Obviously anger got in the way of healing.Hindrances are common to humans. So everything that happened to them was not necessarily God’s perfect will. Jesus was the only perfect person in the Bible, and nowhere does it say he got sick. Satan tried, but his gifts couldn’t land on righteous Jesus.The Bible says it is folly to compare ourselves with others. And yet Christians today compare themselves with great men of God, modern and Biblical, who for various reasons were sick for extended periods. Only God knows the heart. And He says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).Epaphroditus was sick but was later healed (Phil. 2:25-30). Trophimus fell ill (II Tim. 4:20). Maybe he had a hindrance with which he had to deal. Maybe he never did. The self-imposed limitations of men of God don’t do away with the promise of God. But if you’re looking for excuses to call God a liar, you can twist a number of passages. God wants us to learn from people’s mistakes (I Cor. 10:11).What if Timothy was sick? It is highly possible since Paul told him to stir up a faith that was apparently lacking at the time (II Tim. 1:6). He may have had other hindrances. Rather than encourage us to be sick, his example should encourage us to shed our hindrances and get healed!”The Doctor Doctrine”Just as it is not a sin to use natural remedies – as long as they are not more important than Jesus – it is not a sin to use the services of a physician, whether conventional or holistic.Holistic practitioners may be closer to God’s paradigm. They emphasize natural remedies and focus on cause and effect and prevention. Most medical practitioners tend to treat the effects with pharmaceutical drugs that alter and tamper with natural substances. Both deal with the natural realm as opposed to the supernatural, and they mutually excel each other in different areas of expertise. If they could only get together!Choosing one or the other is not necessarily a more “righteous” decision. Holistic therapists admit that medical treatment may be necessary in some critical situations. It is a personal decision determined by wisdom and the level of faith and understanding.Both camps have their incompetents. The decisions of both an arrogant doctor and an incompetent naturopath would have cost me my life had it not been for the hand of God.Whatever route you choose, don’t ever put a doctor before God. That includes chiropractors, naturopaths and pharmacists. That’s idolatry! God doesn’t tend to heal idol worshippers. According to your faith (and conscience) be it unto you. The Holy Spirit is our Guide.The Bible commands us not to judge each other (Mat. 7:1, Rom. 14:10). We are all at different levels of faith and understanding. Also, we may have unresolved hindrances that may even make doctors and medicine necessary until we come to conviction and repentance. It’s a personal matter. Busybodies, beware! Mind your own body!Luke was a beloved Christian doctor, probably more “naturally” oriented than most modern doctors. He was most likely similar to some doctors today who are humble and gentle and treat the body and soul, emphasizing the “binding of wounds” and diagnosis.Non-Christians do need doctors more than believers. They have not accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for their salvation and healing and do not yet know the Eternal Healer. Doctors are their only recourse. That should not be the case for Christians.Doctors of all sorts may have their role and their place in the balanced life of a believer. Benny Hinn’s personal physician is an example. Dr. Don Colbert has studied nutrition extensively and has written a number of books, including The Bible Cure For … series.To teach that going to a doctor for any reason is a sin is unwise. It is picky legalism. Although such a “doctor doctrine” is not in the Bible, King Asa did die because he sought the physicians instead of God (II Chron. 16:12).The last fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 can be translated temperance, moderation or balance. It balances or controls with wisdom all the other qualities we can bring to our lives. Prevention of sickness and taking supplements to bolster our health are fine, but let’s remember who our Healer is. His name is Jesus!And as Christian nutrition specialists know, you can be doing everything right and still be sick. Hindrances leave open doors for Satan to attack our bodies.Although we cannot legislate what kind of medical services and interventions Christians may employ, let’s remember this: God does not need doctors to perform His miracles. He does quite well, thank you, in primitive areas where no medical services are available. To be sure, He has at times done miracles in cases where surgery and drugs have been used. He meets us where we are, leading us from glory to glory, eventually to glorious health.His permissive will and mercy notwithstanding, God has no limits. We are the ones who limit Him. He can heal anything and perform any creative miracle He desires. He alone can do the impossible. Neither conventional nor natural health professionals can compete with or replace our God. He operates in the supernatural. Whether under the Old Covenant or the New, Jesus has always done the impossible.COPYRIGHT 2004 Robert Scott
Robert B. Scott is an author, pastor, and healing and teaching evangelist. He pastors Freedom Church of God in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he is a regular speaker on the popular radio Internet station, http://www.freedomtruthseekers.com His author web site is http://www.robertbscott.net, He has published “Why Doesn’t God Heal Me?” as well as “Peace or Rejection — You Choose.” His latest book is, “Bible Code Broken — The Truth about the Christian Sabbath. Soon to be completed is the manuscript of “Have the Tormentors Got You,” an insightful book on forgiveness he co-authors with Youth Pastor Scott Bishop. Robert is privileged to work with Gerald Budzinski, who is one of the foremost authorities today on curses and demonic strongholds.