Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/Doctrines of Demons
Word of Faith/ Healing in The Atonement

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Is Physical Healing Included in The Atonement... Part II

Carol Brooks

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel to you other than what we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8


Paul's Thorn In The Flesh

Sickness Is Very Often The Result Of Living In A Very Imperfect World ...
But Can Be The Result of Sin

(The blame for many (but not all) of our afflictions can be laid squarely at our own doors)

The Less Spectacular Unrecognized Miracles

Paul's Thorn In The Flesh
Paul suffered from a condition which he called a "thorn in the flesh" and thrice asked the Lord to take from him. God did not do so instead responded by saying "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB) -  undoubtedly not what Paul was hoping for.

We certainly cannot accuse Paul of a lack of faith but sometimes the Father has a definite purpose for allowing the affliction to continue. For example, Paul was given this "thorn in the flesh" to prevent him from exalting himself regarding the vision he had.

    Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn (Gk. skolops)  in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment (Gk. kolaphizo) me - to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored (Begged or beseeched) the Lord three times that it might leave me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-8 NASB)

The Greek word skolops indicates something pointed like a stake or thorn. Unfortunately this is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament so we do not get to see how it was used elsewhere - always a useful thing to do. Some claim that the "thorn in the flesh" refers to oppression or persecution. However astheneia used three times in verses 2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10 literally means weakness - physical or moral as shown in the following examples.

    But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses (Gk. astheneia) . (Luke 5:15 NASB)

    And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness (Gk. astheneia) caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness.(Gk. astheneia) " (Luke 13:11-12 NASB)

    In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness (Gk. astheneia)  for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (Romans 8:26 NASB)

    So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness (Gk. astheneia)  it is raised in power; (1 Corinthians 15:42-43 NASB)

Noteworthy Details
Quite a few modern day evangelicals and false apostles have claimed to have visited heaven. There are a couple of important points that  both those who wrote the books and those that read them should pay close attention to. See Apostles Or Deluded Impostors

Modern Day Evangelicals
Those who supposedly visited 'heaven' could apparently not wait to describe to all and sundry every excruciating detail of their experiences. ("excruciating" is the right word. These fairy tale accounts are literally painful to read). Their books sold quite well.
It not only took Paul fourteen years to even tell of his experience but even when he did one gets the impression that he did so very reluctantly. He used a mere handful of sentences to describe his vision and did everything possible to take the focus off of himself going as far as to describe his experience in the third person. And yes, he did boast - not about the vision but about the weakness that it caused.

In any case, it was not about what Paul saw but rather about what he heard. Very apparently God did not want us to know what Paul heard therefore denied him permission to repeat it. In his words, he...

    was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (2 Corinthians 12:4 NASB)

So why did Paul present such an abbreviated version of what was very obviously a glorious experience? On bible.org Bob Deffinbaugh says this.

    First and foremost, telling of his experience would draw attention to himself, rather than to Christ. Paul preaches Christ crucified. He refuses to change his message or his methods so that the messenger becomes more prominent than the message, and especially the Messiah.

    Second, telling of his experience is impossible, since the words (and the visible images he saw) are inexpressible.

    Third, telling of his experience detracts attention from the gospel. Paul is concerned that people hear the gospel and be saved, not that they hear his experience and try to replicate it. Fourth, making much of his experience emphasizes the sensational aspects of the Christian experience, rather than the normal Christian life. It might lead some to conclude that spirituality and significance are linked to such spectacular experiences, when the more accurate test is suffering unjustly for the sake of the gospel, and our Lord, of whom the gospel speaks. The Corinthians are already caught up with the sensational and disinterested in the painful aspects of the Christian life. [01]

Also See Other Visions And Revelations In The New Testament In Footnote I

Sickness Is Very Often The Result Of Living In A Very Imperfect World ...
(The blame for many but not all of our afflictions can be laid squarely at our own doors)
Harking back to Paul's "thorn in the flesh" which was given him by God so that he would not get above himself in any way - all men can be tempted by pride and apparently Paul was no exception. But this does not mean that God always or even often inflicts a physical malady on us in order to teach us a spiritual lesson.

There are other causes - most commonly is that we live in a world that is almost literally a petri dish of nasties that easily invade our bodies. Our usually unhealthy diets, our lack of robust immune systems, the food industries' focus on profits rather than nutrition, the chemicals we are constantly surrounded by, lack of meaningful exercise, etc. etc. etc have made their job so much easier. While we find it very convenient to fly around the world in hours but bugs like to hitch rides as well. And they do so - in spades -  as the spread of the 1928 "Spanish" flu epidemic and the more recent Covid pandemic shows.

If that wasn't bad enough physical suffering can also be caused by the dark side. See Matthew 17:14-18 and Luke 13:10-16.

... But Can Be The Result of Sin
The Psalms twice indicate that God brought down some malady on one or more people. (There may be other examples)

    There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly.... My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off. (Psalms 38:3-5, 11 NASB)

    Fools, because of their rebellious way (Heb. pesha), And because of their iniquities (Heb. vn) , were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all kinds of food, And they drew near to the gates of death. (Psalms 107:17-18 NASB)

(More about the Hebrew words pesha and vn in Old Testament word study  of the words used for sin HERE)

On the other Hand

Job is a prime Old Testament illustration that sins do not necessarily bring calamity upon people. A wealthy man, he is described in the opening chapters of the book of Job as "blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. (Job 1:1, 2:3 NASB).

However, Satan accused him of only serving God because he was so well off and to show he was wrong God permitted Satan to destroy every aspect of Job's once comfortable life.

Although his three friends could not figure out why Job would be afflicted in such a way if he had not sinned, Job steadfastly maintained that he had done nothing to warrant his misfortune and sickness. His later repentance was not related to sin but to not understanding how powerful, holy, and exalted God really was.

On one occasion, some of the crowd told Jesus that Pilate had worshipers killed while they were offering sacrifices at the temple.

    Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-5 NASB)

Then as now, people probably felt that the victims had to have been really bad sinners to have suffered and died as they did.  However, Jesus not only soundly refuted this idea, but warned His listeners that unless they repented, they too would perish in the same way. He then reinforced His point with the example of an accident in which 18 people were killed when the tower in Siloam collapsed on them, saying that those that perished in this tragedy were no worse culprits than all other men in Jerusalem.

In John 9:1-7, Jesus again discredits the idea that there is an automatic connection between suffering and the morality

    Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:3-7 NASB)

Although some may understandably feel that allowing the man to be born blind in order "that the works of God should be made manifest in him" was a cruel thing to so, we have to bear in mind that it may have been this miracle that caused the man (and who knows how many others who witnessed the miracle) to become believers. He may have traded some years of blindness for an eternity of perfect vision.

Additionally in his instructions to the church regarding sick people, James reinforced Jesus' teaching that sicknesses are not always the result of sin.

    Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. (James 5:14-15 NASB)

The Less Spectacular Unrecognized Miracles
It seems that all too many of us are focused on miraculous instantaneous healing and if someone isn't healed before our very eyes we don't think God has done anything. But there are a variety of ways God heals and a variety of types of healing.

Take for example, the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 who was captain of the host of the king of Syria and called a highly respected great man.  

He was also a leper.

To cut a long story short Naaman, hearing from an Israeli captive that there was a prophet in Samaria who could heal him, he made the trip to Israel. Elisha told the king of Israel to send Naaman to him but when he arrived at Elisha's house, Elisha didn't even come out, but sent a messenger to tell him to go and wash in the Jordan river seven times, and his flesh would become clean. Naaman was displeased that he was received with so little ceremony, and departs in a rage.

He assumed Elisha would come out and call on the name of the LORD his God and cure him. Besides which he considered ''the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel' and could wash in them and be clean

 He wanted to be cured, but his way.

The problem was he still had leprosy. 

Luckily for him, he had servants who, probably putting their jobs on the line, persuaded him to do as Elisha instructed. Naaman finally dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and was made whole.

We are very much like Naaman in many ways. We want to tell God how and when to heal somebody and the quicker and more spectacular the method - the better.  

And it does happen.

However, God also heals in other ways and if we, like Naaman walk off all huffy and disappointed, we will miss many of the Father's very understated miracles, but miracles nonetheless.  He could and, in my case, did lead us to the right doctor, enabled us to pay for the treatment (very extensive and expensive open heart surgery) and saw me through the long recovery

And there are times when God requires our participation. Just like Namaan we may have to do something, but that is not what usually how we wish to be healed. We don't want the trouble of doing or changing something - sounds too much like work. Remember however that had Naaman not finally done what Elisha instructed he would have died a leper.

End Notes
[01] Bob Deffinbaugh. The Window, the Rope, and the Basket: Boasting in Our Weakness (2 Cor. 11:30-12:10)

Footnote I - Visions And Revelations In The New Testament
And this was not Paul's only vision. In the first verse of chapter 12 he speaks about "visions" and "revelations" - both words in the plural in the Greek. While we do not know how many Paul had visions were not exactly unknown in the New Testament. The following list is from David Guzik's commentary on 2 Corinthians.

    i. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had a vision of an angel (Luke 8-23).

    ii. Jesus' transfiguration is described as a vision for the disciples (Matthew 17:9).

    iii. The women who came to visit Jesus' tomb had a vision of angels (Luk_24:22-24).

    iv. Stephen saw a vision of Jesus at his death (Acts 7:55-56).

    v. Ananias experienced a vision telling him to go to Saul (Acts 9:10).

    vi. Peter had a vision of the clean and unclean animals (Acts 10:17-19 and Acts 11:5).

    vii. Peter had a vision of an angel at his release from prison (Acts 12:9).

    viii. John had many visions on Patmos (Revelation 1:1).

    ix. Paul had a revelation of Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:6-11 and Acts 26:12-20).

    x. Paul had vision of a man from Macedonia, asking him to come to that region to help (Acts 16:9-10).

    xi. Paul had an encouraging vision while in Corinth (Acts 18:9-11).

    xii. Paul had a vision of an angel on the ship that was about to be wrecked (Acts 27:23-25). {PLACE IN TEXT}


Part I of Healing In The Atonement