Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Theology of sickness and disease: Paul's thorn, are sickness and disease God's method of instruction for the believer?


how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 MEV

Dear Friend, I pray that in every way you may prosper and be in good health,  just as your soul is prospering. 3 John 2 Mounce Reverse Interlinear New Testament 

God is a Good Father, He's a good Daddy. He is so loving and compassionate. He is merciful and His kindness exceeds all expectations and surpasses all of our understanding. He is so gracious especially when we don't deserve it. 

 This is an area we must never compromise in. We must stand firm and stand strong in this truth. God is a Good God all the time. If He is Good all the time, then we must also understand that He isn't the author of any evil or affliction.

 Mankind through personal experience, through the motivation of control, because of unbelief and a stagnant faith, form, and fashion traditions. These traditions of men seek to explain their situation, circumstance, or experience. They also seek ways to interpret their apparent lack of power to change the situation, by placing all the blame on God's shoulders. Things like He wasn't willing, the age of miracles has passed, God never promised any victory this side of Heaven.
 These traditions are utilized often when one experiences sickness and disease. The theology of sickness and disease declares God is glorified when Christians are sick. It declares that God punishes or disciplines believers with sickness. It declares that God sends sickness to show His power. It declares God also sends sickness to teach us or instruct us.

 These are the traditions of men. My Bible tells me God is Love. The Word also tells me Love doesn't take pleasure in evil. God's Word also reveals Jesus' attitude about sickness and disease. He saw it as a curse, as something evil. God is Love, and love delights not in evil, and sickness is evil, therefore we must conclude rightly that God has nothing whatsoever to do with sickness and disease. 

 The only relation God has with sickness and disease is healing those who are afflicted. God removes sickness any opportunity He gets. Jesus bore mankind's sickness and disease on that tree. He became a curse to redeem us from the curse. 

 Speaking of these traditions, this concept that God instructs us with sickness cuts cross-grain of what we know of Jesus. Yet why do some accept this as truth? Many have a misunderstood view of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. You can see this entire account Paul recounts here

 From this passage in 2 Corinthians, many traditions have come forth. To see a detailed study of this entire account in Paul's life that lists all the traditions associated with Paul's thorn and provides answers to each of them that will bring clarity and a further understanding look here. One of the traditions I will briefly address is the idea that Paul was made sick to teach him.

 Religious tradition declares this thorn in the flesh is sickness. They will say Galatians prove this. He told them to look at such a large letter he wrote them. They take that as literally as possible. That Paul was so blind that He wrote in giant block letters. That is an absurd interpretation. Nowhere does Paul state he was blind or had to be carried around because of poor vision.

 Look at what Paul states again. Let the Word interpret itself.
...a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me...2 Corinthians 12:7a

 Paul tells us what the thorn is right here. Yet so often, many omit what Paul states and only focus on the phrase a thorn in the flesh. They don't recognize this as a Biblical idiom. We've all used idioms at some point. It's raining cats and dogs, we literally know cats and dogs are not falling from the sky.

 We've also used idioms to explain an uncomfortable or stressful experience in dealing with a person or situation. Ever heard someone say, "that guy is a real pain in the neck"? Does that mean the one speaking has a literal pain in his neck region because of this person? Of course not. 

 God's Word also uses idioms. If we follow the Scripture you can see these types of idioms/expressions used. Here are just a few examples, here. Another place here. One more here. Proving again, this phrase is merely an idiom used to describe a situation facing Paul. 

 Again let the Word interpret itself. Paul said what this thorn was. He called it the messenger of satan. This was a demonic influence sent to disrupt Paul. This word buffet means to strike with a fist. This was not a sickness or a disease afflicting Paul. This was demonic opposition to the ministering and preaching of the Gospel of Grace. 

 Look at Paul's life, the Jewish leaders and believers would stir up opposition because Paul was teaching the multitudes Righteousness by Faith and not by works of the Law. They were resisting Grace. They were pushing self-righteousness by works. God wanted the Church to take their place as the Righteous sons of God, not keep them in bondage to the Old Covenant ministry of death.

 In light of this understanding, we can conclude that God isn't using sickness to teach us anything. Now, can we learn something while we are attacked with sickness or disease? Of course, but the sickness or disease in and of themselves are not the instruction method God has ordained.

 God is a Good God. He is a Good Daddy. God is not the author of any sickness or disease. He is not sending sickness, symptoms, plagues, or pandemics to test us, to teach us, or to train us. He has given us His Spirit within and the Word of God written to us to train and instruct us, not tragedy, trial, or tormenting illnesses.

But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come. John 16:13 MEV

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
It's spelled out clearly for us by Jesus Himself and Paul. We have the Spirit to lead and guide us into truth. We have the Word of God given to us to instruct us, to equip us, to train us, and correct us. conspicuously absent in the list Paul annotates of what actually trains us, instructs us, and perfects or matures us is sickness and disease.
 In summation, we have clear passages that reveal how God instructs us. Sickness and disease are not the instruction tools of our God. Sickness and disease must be resisted. We must stand against it. Use every means supernatural and natural to see people free from it. As the Church, we represent God to this lost world. Let's show them the compassion of our God, and reveal His heart is to mend, to heal, and to make whole, always. God is a Good Father.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

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