"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

The Romantic Christian and Sickness

A Romantic Christian does not believe that God can do anything that he perceives to be evil, such as making us sick?

But God does make people sick! In John 11:4, Jesus said (re: Lazarus), “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Was it not God who struck down Lazarus? Certainly Satan would not be interested in glorifying the Son of God.

Similarly, John 9:30 re: the man who was blind from birth, “it was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Again, was it not God who gave this man blindness from birth? Our adopted daughter was born with many handicaps, was she not formed in the womb by God?

The Lord doesn’t just use sickness to glorify Himself, but also to discipline and sometimes as a threat if His people don’t repent… The Lord prophesied through Micah (6:13), "So also I will make you sick, striking you down, desolating you because of your sins."

And sometimes as punishment or judgment for sins… Elijah prophesied to Jehoram in 2 Chr 21:14,15 "Behold, the Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives, with a great calamity, and you will suffer severe sickness…"

And, also for discipline… In 1st Cor 11:27,29-32 Paul explains the consequences of partaking in the Lord’s Supper unworthily; “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we shall not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

Now, we know that Satan cannot touch Christians without permission from the Lord. The Lord gave permission for Satan to strike Job, and also Paul. The “thorn in the flesh, the messenger from Satan” required the Lord’s permission, and in Paul’s case was almost certainly initiated by God for the sake of keeping him humble (to keep me from exalting myself) II Cor 12:7. So if God gives permission, or approves of Satan afflicting Christians, is He not then ultimately responsible?

That it was a sickness, there can be little doubt. Paul himself called it his “weakness”. There’s no way possible that that can be construed as the strife he suffered in his long list of calamities. It is plainly obvious that Paul had a problem with his eyes. Gal 4:15 "Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." And 6:11, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." I believe the one verse confirms the other, and if I’m not mistaken, that is considered reliable exegesis.

So why then doesn’t the Lord just bring conviction on us rather than giving us some terrible disease? This is the attitude of many romantic Christians who apply the promise that the Holy Spirit will convict us if we are in error to every situation. You can’t do that!

Generally the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, but generalities are generalities. A generality is a general statement that covers a range of things, rather than being concerned with specific instances. There are by definition almost always exceptions to generalities. One thing is for sure though; sometimes He just can’t seem to break through our defences. For instance: Didn’t the Holy Spirit convict Peter and James, the pillars of the church in Jerusalem, when they slid back into the bondage of the law? It seems to me that they didn’t come under much conviction until Paul rebuked them (Gal 2).

And what about David, that man after God’s own heart; that writer of songs and prophecies; that killer of lions, bears, and giants? Wasn’t he convicted of adultery with Bathsheba? Wasn’t he convicted of murdering her husband and several others of his best warriors, and ordering Joab to implement his murderous plan? Obviously, he wasn’t convicted until Nathan came alongside, and opened his eyes to what he had done (2 Sam 11 & 12).

Perhaps all these people were convicted, or at least the Holy Spirit attempted to convict them, but they may have been unwilling to receive the conviction. I don’t know. Fortunately, the apostles and David had the humility to listen to the word that was given them. But where was the conviction, or the humility, for Jim Jones, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggert, and others like them?