Healing: faith or fake?

Excerpted from The Why Files: Are There Really Ghosts?.

Jeeeee-sus doesn’t want you sick!” The TV evangelist nearly pokes his index finger through the camera lens. “When the devil comes to your door with disease, you just reeeee-buke him in the name of Jeeeee-sus and the foul spirits will fa-leeeee!”

The theme music begins to play as the camera moves in for a close-up. “So, fa-riends, if you want to be free from each and every illness, write today. And for a donation of just twenty dollars, I’ll send you my latest book . . .”

I quickly change the channel and reach for another glass of orange juice and a handful of tissues. I wish getting over a cold was as simple as commanding, “Come out, foul spirits of post-nasal drip!”

As I study God’s Word, I am compelled to believe in divine healing:

    “[The Lord] forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3).

    Christ “bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

But as I study God’s Word, I also become more and more suspicious of some faith healers’ messages and methods.

1. I’m suspicious of those who are constantly casting out demons of asthma, blindness, cancer, diabetes, and the rest of the anatomical alphabet.

Romans 8:20-21 clearly points out that illness in general is a result of the fall and the human sin condition. But Matthew 4:24, 10:1, and 10:8 reveal that individual illnesses are not satanically inspired. The disciple makes a clear distinction between diseases and demon activity.

2. I’m suspicious of those who promise healing for every disease.

The Apostle Paul definitely had the gift of healing. Acts 19 records that “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illness were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Acts 20 tell us he even raised the dead!

But even with this impressive record, God did not always answer Paul’s prayers for physical healing. The apostle advised Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23, italics mine).

In 2 Timothy 4:20 we read that Paul “left Trophimus sick in Miletus.” And his three prayers for his “thorn in the flesh” were not answered with physical healing (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

3. I’m suspicious of those who make healing the focus of their public ministry.

Thirty-seven accounts of healing are detailed in the Gospels and Acts. Only ten occurred with a crowd present. Twelve occurred in small groups and fifteen in private settings.

Rarely today do we hear Christ’s admonition to the healed, “Don’t tell anyone!” Instead, we have weekly television programs featuring healing services, and monthly mailings with a plague of pictures of the “healer.”

Genuine healers will be more concerned about God’s kingdom being built up than their own.

Moses’ leprous hand was healed, not to impress the Egyptians, but “. . . so that they may believe that the Lord . . . has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:5).

Jesus says, “Even though you don’t believe me, believe the miracles, that you may learn and understand that the Father is me, and I in the Father” (John 10:38).

The Apostle John writes that the purpose of miracles is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

If my healing will draw attention to God and advance His kingdom, then He will heal me. But if, like Paul, God can be glorified in me through emotional and spiritual–but not bodily–healing, He may choose not to heal me physically. Regardless, it is His kingdom’s advancement that must be the focus.

4. I’m suspicious of those who use healing as a fund raiser.

There is not one account in the Gospels or the book of Acts of any money being exchanged or donated during a healing.

Instead, when Simon, a recent convert and ex-sorcerer, asked to “buy” the Holy Spirit’s power to work miracles, Peter shouts, “May you money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:20-21).

Yet, recently, a famous faith healer boasted of making five million dollars annually from his healing “ministry.” Very different from Peter and John, who had no “silver or gold,” when they healed the man crippled from birth (Acts 3:6)!

5. Finally, I’m suspicious of those who belittle medical treatment.

God has given us wisdom to understand these “fearfully and wonderfully made” bodies. And it behooves us to treat our bodies well with the medical knowledge our world possess and to take advantage of the medical treatments available to us.

And if we have been supernaturally healed, it can be humanly verified. Often, when Jesus healed leprosy and other diseases, he ordered them to go the priests–which served as the public health officers of the day–to have the healing verified.

And, so if you believe you have been healed, do not make any changes in your activities or medications until a doctor can verify the healing. Unfortunately, there are tales of diabetics who felt they were delivered, ate a chocolate cake to celebrate their “miracle,” and immediately went into a near-fatal insulin coma.

In conclusion, there are faith healers and there are fake healers.

Some “heal” actors from the audience. Some have mastered psychological techniques to make people believe they have been healed. Others use the victim’s normal remission of disease as “proof” of their healing powers. Some may even perform real miracles using Satanic power. Matthew 24:24 warns that “false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.”

But the Holy Spirit will help us discern those who are using human or Satanic powers to accomplish “healings” with two simple questions.

1) Who’s getting the blame for the illness? If “demons” are the only cause the “healer” accepts, he or she is probably not legitimate.

2) Who’s getting the credit for the healing? From the infertile, ninety-year-old Sarah giving birth to Issac to the dead who are raised in the book of Revelation, God and His power is the focus. Not the “healer” or the “healed.”

We do serve a God who continues to perform miracles.

And my cold? It’s much better, thank you.

Copyright © 1999 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.


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