If we are going to pick up and carry the torch of healing the sick, it is vital that we have a renewing of the mind as to how we view sickness and the ministry of healing. Through the study of Scripture, practical experience, and learning from those with powerful healing ministries both past and present, I have found four keys to be essential to a mindset of faith for healing. The following is an excerpt from my book Restoring the Ministry of Jesus which details each of these four principles.
One time a leper came to Jesus begging to be healed and saying, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” He did not question His ability to heal but His willingness to heal. Many struggle with the same question today. Jesus said to the leper, “I am willing” and then He healed him (see Mark 1:40-41). As we read through the gospels, we see that Jesus was always willing to heal the sick.
In order to have faith to minister healing to the sick, we must be absolutely convinced from the Scriptures that it is God’s will to heal. Faith cannot exist where there is no certainty about God’s will. Healing must become a conviction that is based on the Bible alone and not on experience. Jesus always did the will of God and Jesus was always healing people. There is not one instance recorded in Scripture of someone asking for healing and Jesus turning them down.
When I talk to people about healing being the will of God there is always a question that arises: “What about so-and-so who did not get healed?” Everybody knows of somebody who has died of a sickness. In some cases, the sick person believed God for healing and had been prayed for many times, with other people interceding and fasting for their healing.
So, if it is God’s will to heal, why doesn’t everybody get healed? The best way I know how to answer that question is with the following statement: God’s will does not automatically happen on earth. That is why Jesus instructed us to pray for His will to be done on earth like it is in heaven (see Matthew 6:10). Just because a person did not get healed does not mean it was not God’s will to heal them. There are various factors involved and certainly an element of mystery to be embraced. But God’s desire to heal is seen throughout the Bible. When healing doesn’t come, we must not automatically assume it was not God’s will.
There are some instances in the Bible where sickness comes upon people because of judgment (see 2 Kings 5:26-27, Acts 13:6-12, and Revelation 2:20-23 for a few examples). While this is the case, it doesn’t negate the truth that it is generally God’s desire to heal. (In the same way, it is God’s will for all to be saved and yet many are not.) We have to remember that we are not yet walking in the fullness of the promises of God. Instead of lowering the standard of Scripture, we need to contend for our promised land and see more and more people healed.
When you read the accounts of healing in the gospels, it becomes evident that Jesus saw sickness as an enemy to be destroyed. He saw sickness as a work of the devil. “And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up” (Luke 13:11). Here we have a woman who had a back condition that today we might call scoliosis. Notice the source of the sickness: a spirit of infirmity. Jesus ministered healing to her, and since it was a Sabbath day, the Pharisees found fault with Him. Look at Jesus’ response in verse 16: “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (emphasis added). Jesus said that her infirmity was a bondage caused by Satan.
Acts 10:38 says that “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.” We are to view sickness as Jesus did; a work of Satan that needs to be destroyed. It is something that is to be fought against and not put up with or embraced.
Like the story from Luke 13 above, there are other examples from Christ’s ministry where the source of sickness was an evil spirit. We see this in the case of an epileptic boy and a man who is mute (see Matthew 17:14-21; Matthew 9:32-33). This is also true of Paul’s ministry: “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12). It says that the handkerchiefs were brought to the sick and as a result the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. It is clear from Scripture that demons can cause sickness.
Understanding that sickness is a work of the devil in a general sense gives me a greater passion to see the sick healed, and knowing that specific diseases can be caused by evil spirits affects the way that I pray for healing. I have seen people physically healed while going through deliverance prayer without even praying specifically for the area of needed healing. One example is a student of mine when I was teaching at a Christian school who was having pain in her neck. I prayed for her to be healed and there was no positive result. The next week she became aware of a possible need to be delivered from evil spirits. When another teacher and I led her through prayer and deliverance, she was set free from several demonic spirits in a visible way. After the time of prayer her neck was completely healed even though we never addressed it in the prayer time.
Not every sickness is caused by an evil spirit. But sickness is a result of the fall of man and is a work of the devil.
There are several times in the Bible where the healing of sickness and the forgiveness of sin are tied together. For instance, Psalm 103:2-3 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.” Jesus’ death on the cross not only paid the price for sin to be forgiven but also for sickness to be healed. This teaching is commonly called healing in the atonement. Though contested by some well-known Bible teachers, it is taught by Scripture.
Matthew 8:16-17 says, “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
Matthew is quoting from Isaiah 53, the famous foreshadowing of the Messiah’s suffering. This is the same passage that says,
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” (Verse 5)
On the same cross Jesus bore our sins and our sicknesses. The fact that Matthew connected Isaiah 53 to the physical healings that Jesus was performing leaves no room to spiritualize Isaiah’s use of the word healed in verse five. It means exactly what it says. “By His stripes we are healed.” Jesus has paid the price for healing. So, let’s contend for healing to be restored so that He gets the fullness of what He paid for.
When I first realized the truth that Jesus did His entire ministry, including His miracles, as a man, it was a paradigm shift for me. Jesus is God, and I had always assumed that this is what enabled Him to heal. But this is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus humbled Himself to become a man and chose not to use His power as God (see Philippians 2:5-11). This truth is important to understand, because if Jesus was able to heal and perform other miracles only because He was God, we could never be expected to follow in His footsteps. But if He did it as a man, He paved the way for us to do it as well.
I know that this teaching can make some people nervous or to claim that we are denying the divinity of Christ. But this is not the case at all. The Bible teaches that Jesus is fully God and fully man. We must not deny His divinity or His humanity. To deny His humanity is just as much a distortion of His nature as to deny His divinity. Jesus is God, but He did not function in ministry as God. He chose to function as a man. This is why He could be tempted. This is why He could be tired. This is why He constantly prayed. This is why He relied on the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. He did not even begin His ministry until being anointed with the Holy Spirit and then tested in the wilderness for forty days.
One time when the Pharisees accused Jesus of using the devil’s power to cast out demons, He said, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28, emphasis added). Acts 10:38, a passage that was quoted earlier in this chapter, shows that Jesus healed, because He was anointed with power and because the Father was with Him. These and other passages make it plain that Jesus was able to heal not because He was God but because He was empowered by the Holy Spirit—the same Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Everywhere Jesus went, people were miraculously healed, set free from evil spirits, and transformed by powerful teaching and preaching. Restoring the Ministry of Jesus calls us back to the foundation of walking like Jesus walked and doing what Jesus did. It shows how to bridge the gap from our current condition to walking in our inheritance in Christ. As you read, your heart will be stirred to seek God’s face and go after all that He has for you and the church today!