CAUSES OF SICKNESS
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you (1 Corinthians 11:30).
It is a well-known fact that, when a good physician starts to work on a case, the first step is to find out, if possible, the cause of the sickness. Then he works to eliminate that cause. So it is when we come to God for healing. We find that He deals not so much with symptoms as with causes.
It is important to know the causes of sickness. The pain of an attack of acute appendicitis may be eased by administering narcotics. But, while the person is unaware of pain, the appendix may burst and death may result. Carelessness about finding the cause of suffering has resulted in great damage and even the loss of lives. Many people have lost confidence in God's promises to heal, failing to understand that there are conditions that must be met before healing can occur. They fail to remove the cause of sickness and thus fail to meet God's conditions for healing.
God points out in His Word some very specific reasons for sickness. By checking the Word, those who desire to be healed may remove the causes of sickness.
Sin causes sickness
It may be said without fear of contradiction that, in a very real sense, sin is the cause for the existence of sickness in the world. There was no sickness in the Garden of Eden, and none of us expect to find either sin or infirmity in heaven. Until the day Eve yielded to the suggestion of Satan and took of the fruit, which God had forbidden her to eat, the human race was free from both sin and sickness. At that point, Sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). In this sense all sickness is the result of sin.
In some cases, a specific disease is directly traceable to a specific sin. Perhaps the best examples of this are the so-called "social diseases" which haunt those who live immoral lives. In many other cases, the connection is not so readily apparent, especially to those who cannot discern the things of the Spirit of God. But God said, If thou wilt NOT observe to do all the words of this law...then the Lord will make thy plagues...great plagues and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of...Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee (Deuteronomy 28:58-61).
Sin and sickness are closely associated in the New Testament, as well as in the, Old, for Jesus Himself said, in dealing with sickness, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee (Mark 2:5), and to another, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee (John 5:14).
James admonishes the, sick, Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, THAT YE MAY BE HEALED, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:16 and 15).
David, speaking by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, said, Fools because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them (Psalm 107:17-20).
This should be sufficient evidence that with sin comes sickness. But there is more.
Numbers, chapter 12, presents a story, which brings Gods people a very solemn warning. Miriam, Moses sister, a prophetess and one who had been greatly blessed of the Lord, became lifted up with pride, and was not afraid to speak against [God's] servant, Moses (verse 8). God heard her evil speaking, and "the anger of the Lord was kindled" against Miriam and Aaron, her brother, who had entered with her into the criticism against Moses. Miriam became leprous, white as snow, and would have remained so had not Moses prayed for her deliverance. How marvelous that God heard the cry of Moses and healed Miriam! But note that Miriam would never have needed healing had she not sinned. Criticism Is Sin!
Sin breaks down the hedge that God builds around you, thus permitting Satan to afflict you.
God, who has pronounced just judgments upon the disobedient, has also given many precious promises of physical well-being to those who will diligently hearken to His voice and do that which is right in His sight. In the Ten Commandments, there is a special promise of long life to those who honor their parents. Honor thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:2). If all is not well with thee (physically), could your sickness be the result of breaking this commandment?
If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put NONE of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee (Exodus 15:26).
Obedience brings healing
Can you believe that God meant what He said? Obedience brings healing! Disobedience brings disease and sickness. The unsaved and disobedient, must prepare for healing by getting right with God!
Paul deals very specifically with the subject of sickness among Christian people in I Corinthians II - He tells us in verse 30, For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (die prematurely). This verse states very clearly that there is a definite cause for Christians' sicknesses. We should give this careful consideration and make sure that we know and understand what this "cause" is.
First Corinthians 11 deals with one of the most important and perpetual ordinances of the Church, the Lord's Supper. Instituted by God the same night, in which He was betrayed, this ordinance became to the followers of Jesus the visible symbol of all He has purchased for us salvation through the shedding of His blood and healing through His sufferings at the whipping post. It is so essential to the believer's life to become a partaker of these sacrifices that Jesus himself said, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (John 6:53).
Yet added to this solemn warning is another, found in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
Worthy or unworthy?
Many professing Christians have refused to take the Lord's Supper because of this warning. However, this was not the Lord's intention. If you are unworthy to partake of the symbols of His blood and body, surely you cannot be a partaker of His blood and body in reality. In that case, Jesus says, Ye have no life in you. If you are unworthy to partake of the communion, you may not be ready for the Rapture.
Worthiness does not imply that one is sure he has fully attained the goal of sinless perfection. Christ himself served the first communion to twelve men who very quickly demonstrated that they were still subject to human weaknesses and were short of perfection.
You say, "Then, what does it imply?"
This word worthiness has a three-fold implication. First, is simply the attitude of the believer at the time he partakes of the symbols. Surely there should never be any frivolity or irreverence at such a solemn time. Never should it be approached lightly or treated as a mere formal ceremony. In partaking of these emblems, we shew the Lord's death till he come (1 Corinthians 11:26). This worthy attitude is by no means a proud spirit or feeling worthy or superior to other men, but rather it is a realization of inherent sinfulness and the deep need of a Redeemer.
The other two implications are embodied in the latter part of verse 29, which is an explanation of the word unworthily - not discerning the Lord's body. The blood of the Lord was shed for the remission of sins, but it was His body that bore the stripes whereby we are healed. Many drink the wine with happy realization and praise to God for the glorious deliverance from sin through His shed blood. But they eat the bread without realizing that this also typifies a definite price that was for a definite blessing. This blessing is HEALING - and it is ours if we will but accept it!
Only as we believe and accept the blood of Christ for salvation do we find salvation. Drinking the wine of the communion, alone, will not wash away our sins. A young man who had been brought up in a home where God's Word was not read, and who was kept busy with things other than church matters, went to church with a friend on communion Sunday. For the first time in his life he saw people taking communion. Very little explanation was made and, when the elements of communion were passed and his friend took a portion, he joined in, just as he would have shared in the treats at a party. He had no realization of the meaning of either the wine or bread and there was no change in his life as a result of taking communion. There must first be an inward understanding of the cleansing of the blood before the outward form can have any meaning.
Many fine Christian people receive no more benefit from partaking of the bread and wine than this boy did-and for the same reason. They have never learned that when Christ our Passover [was] sacrificed for us, that the blood was sufficient to deliver from death, and that the body was provided for healing and physical strength. Because they do not expect healing, they do not receive it.
When the death angel passed over the houses of Israel, he was not concerned with what was on the table or pantry shelf, for God had said, When I see the blood, I will pass over you. Thus the blood set the condemnation to death aside. But the command of God was not completed with the applying of the blood to the door posts, for God had also commanded that they should eat the flesh on that night and thereby receive strength for the journey which lay ahead.
Even so, the blood of Christ shed upon Calvary is fully sufficient to make atonement for our sins. This being true, His sufferings at the whipping post and in Pilate's judgment hall were sufferings all in vain, unless we accept healing. But those sufferings were not in vain!
Christ...suffered for us...Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:21,24).
As we discern by faith the power of the blood of Christ, we are set free from the guilt and bondage of sin. And, as we discern the body of the Lord, there need not be any weak and sickly among us. The people of Israel accepted both the body and blood of their Passover lamb and, when God brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, there was not one feeble person among their tribes (Psalm 105:37).
Many churches today, if they were consistent with what they believe, would use only the wine for communion. They believe in the blood for salvation, but reject the broken body for our healing. No wonder so many people are sick. They have refused the only remedy that is guaranteed to cure every disease if used according to directions!
But perhaps the reason the minds of so many have been unable to grasp this glorious truth will be found in the third phase of unworthiness. This is failure to discern the body of the Lord, which is living and active in the world today. Now ye are the -body of Christ, and members in particular. Because of failure to recognize this fact, many have been guilty of causing division in the Body. This is sin and sin kills faith. Therefore, in taking communion, we, as Christians should examine ourselves in light of our relationship to the other members of the Body, as set forth in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, not belittling any person or any gift placed by the Spirit of Christ in His body. Both spiritual and physical welfare depend largely upon this right responsibility in the body of Christ. If you have been guilty of causing division in the body of Christ - either by tale bearing, which separates others, or by pride and self-righteousness, which separates you from the body - confess this as sin and turn from it so that your faith may grow. Take your proper place in the Body, whether it is small or great, and help others to do the same.
Accept the blood of Christ for the cleansing of your sins, and then accept by faith, the body of Christ for the healing of your body. It is yours. Jesus bought it for you the day He bought your salvation upon the cross. Discern now the body of the Lord and you, too, shall enjoy the blessing of healing for your body. Satan cannot legally afflict you with that for which Christ has already suffered in your place.
Many are sick today who once experienced marvelous healings. Some even complain of the same sickness from which they were so gloriously delivered. When Jesus was here on earth He indicated that this would be the case. This does not mean that it is not God's will for these people to be well, or that they cannot be permanently healed. To one whom Christ had healed, He warned, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee (John 5:14).
God does not heal a person in order to give him more strength to continue in sin. Sickness has returned to many because of their own carelessness and disobedience to God. (This matter will be dealt with more fully in Chapter 12 - "Keeping Your Healing." If you have been unable to keep your healing, be sure to read this chapter. You need not be discouraged, for you, too, can have deliverance.)
Proper health care is a must
Much sickness is caused by improper care of the body. The laws of nature are God's laws for physical health and cannot be broken without punishment in the form of sickness or infirmity. Divine healing was never intended to take the place of proper care of the body such as rest, exercise, eating the right foods, and avoiding habits that weaken the body.
God commanded His people to rest one day out of every seven days. While we are no longer under legal bondage to keep the Sabbath, which was a shadow of a better rest to come (see Hebrews 4:9), Jesus himself declared that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). One day's rest out of seven has been proven essential for good health. Those who cannot find time to rest, who keep themselves too busy with the cares of life to attend worship in the house of God, make themselves susceptible to the inroads of disease. Neither can they gain faith to receive healing, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10: 17). Healing is available to all God's people, but only through faith, and faith cannot come in any other way but by hearing and obeying the Word of God. Many desire prayer for their bodies, but insist they cannot attend services to receive instruction about healing from the Word of God. They work every day, including Sunday and many of these people suffer from nervous disorders. The increasing number of nervous disorders and mental and physical breakdowns due to fatigue can be traced directly to an increasing lack of concern for the command of God: Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work (Exodus 20:9,10).
The medical profession defines many diseases as deficiency diseases, meaning that they are caused by a lack of essential elements in the diet. Christians would do well to consider the value of the various foods God has placed in the world and choose a diet that will keep their bodies strong and well. This is not a matter of the soul's salvation, but is vitally important to the body's health.
Jesus said, Man shall not live by bread alone. The eternal values of the kingdom of God are far greater than the present enjoyment of pleasant food and drink. We are advised that everyone that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things (1 Corinthians 9:25). Overeating is the direct cause of some sicknesses and is a contributing factor in many others. The work of all the organs of the body such as the liver, stomach, and heart, are so increased by overeating as to make it impossible for them to carry on their normal duties, and sicknesses result, ranging from gout to stomach and heart trouble. Even deficiency diseases are frequently prevalent among those who overeat because they choose their foods on the basis of taste appeal rather than the body's needs. Too many rich, sweet foods, too much meat, or too many starchy foods can make the body fat, overburden the heart and digestive system and, at the same time, fail to provide the nutrients needed for good health. Many people who come requesting prayer for their bodies would never have needed to come had they taken a little more care in choosing a proper diet. And they would benefit very little from an instant, miraculous healing. They would immediately start the process over again of tearing down their health through the same disobedience to the laws of nature, which originally caused their sickness.
Then there are those who injure their bodies through weakening habits. It may seem unnecessary to mention such things as the use of liquor, narcotics, and tobacco, but there are many who are still in bondage to one or all of these habits. It is a well-known fact, substantiated by the best medical authorities, as well as athletes, coaches, and others interested in building strong bodies, that all these habits are injurious to the body. Many diseases, especially of the heart and liver are directly traceable to the use of these drugs. First Corinthians 3:17 declares, If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. It seems almost inconceivable, in light of this verse that any should expect healing from God while defiling their bodies with these recognized poisons. If you are in bondage to any of these habits, it is time to set your body free. When you attempt to lay it aside, you will, no doubt, soon realize what a hold it had on your body. But God said, If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36). When you recognize this filthy habit as a bondage and look to God for grace, He will set you free! Then, when you have been delivered from the disease through the power of God, the cause of the disease will also be gone, and you can stay well.
God chose to make His abode in human bodies, as evidenced by many scriptures, including 1 Corinthians 3:17, quoted above, and also I Corinthians 6:19, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? Every Christian is a caretaker of His temple. This is a sacred trust and responsibility, and God is not glorified by our abuse of our bodies.
Carelessly exposing the body to extreme temperatures or germs of contagious diseases comes under the heading of "tempting God" and may readily bring on sickness. If exposure to these dangers is necessary, we can claim God's protection. As long as we walk by faith we need not be in bondage to fear.