Thirteenth in a series demonstrating how much the Bible has to say about the healing purchased for us by Jesus at the cross along with salvation.
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.James 5
It is striking how varied are the ways that healing comes. I believe Jesus took care to make it plain to us that God is Jehovah Rapha (our Healer) lest we get the idea that there is some formula for healing that doesn’t require our vital relationship with Him who IS the Life. (John 17:11 tells us the Father and Son are One.) Did you see what I did there? Vital (adj.) late 14c., “of or manifesting life,” from Latin vitalis “of or belonging to life”. Now there is a subject for meditation! We are in right relationship with Him when we “belong”, by our choice, to Jesus, who is the Life. If we become disconnected from the Life, through inattention because our focus is diverted to the things of earth, we cease walking with Him in the upward way (I Am the Way, John 14:6).
Many of us are driven by various measures of performance and keep mental checklists on how we are doing:
- Remembered anniversary -Check.
- Made it to church – Check.
- Put something in the basket – Check.
- Sang on Key – Check.
- Volunteered to work in the nursery – Check.
- Stayed mostly awake during the sermon – Check.
- Encouraged the pastor on a wonderful message – Check.
However admirable any of the things we do may be, they are no substitute for a consistent relationship with Jesus. Even if that sermon contained the very words of God and was ever so helpful, as I hope it did and was, the message came to you secondhand.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.Proverbs 14:12
There are processes in our physical life that will put an end to us if they stop; heartbeat, respiration, neural transmission would be ultraquick, were they to fail suddenly. Other cessations take longer to produce the terminal result, digestion, hydration, immune functions and sleep come to mind. As His children, God gives us grace that we might choose to turn back to Him from our distractions. Make no mistake, though. He intends we converse with Him like we breathe.
Though manifestation of healing does not adhere to a formula, there are some things always necessary. Faith, overcoming unbelief, recognizing and using our authority in Jesus, and speaking our faith out loud are needful. These flow out of our relationship with Him as we wholeheartedly lean into the Word of Truth. Another word about prayer assistance by the elders mentioned in James 5 – prayer doesn’t save the sick. The prayer of faith saves the sick. Choose your elders wisely.
If you have read at Missionary Sojourn any time at all, you will know that I believe that Jesus bore our sin (and sickness) at the cross and that is a once-and-for-all transaction. That obviously doesn’t mean we can’t or don’t sin or get sick. It means that the state of the believer’s redeemed spirit is unaltered by transgressions of the law which Jesus fulfilled.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:13–14
We are not “sealed” by our behavior, but by His limitless, omnipotent Holy Spirit! His sealing is incomparably better than my kitchen vacuum sealer (refer to need for breath, above). BTW- This is not a random silly comment. The word for the Spirit in Ephesians 1:13 is Πνεύματι (Pneumati, the breath of God). We think of breath as a mere vapor, but the breath of God is infinitely substantive protection.
The word “sin” in verse 15 of James 5 is the same Greek word (ἁμαρτίας, pronounced ham-ar-tee’-ahs) translated as “faults” in verse 16.
I know many voices endeavor to help us rationalize otherwise, but one thing sin does in the life of a believer, is give Satan access. You know him. He is the one who comes to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). A Bible teacher that I am fond of is known for saying that sin gives Satan permission to “eat your lunch and pop the bag”. It’s a cute way to drive home this point and help us remember this consequence of our sin. The good news is James 5:16 is telling us how to break that stronghold. I can tell you from hard experience that believing the lie that “keeping habitual sin under wraps is best for all concerned” will ensure that bully Satan comes by for your lunch tomorrow and for as many days following as you protect your sin from the light.
P.S. Romans 6 is a good place to do more study on the subject of sin and believers.]