The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Author of Sickness’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 9/15/2019, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click

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Who Makes Us Sick?

We just went to great lengths[1] to establish that God is not the author of sickness and disease. And at this point you should be wondering, Well if God doesn’t make me sick, who does?

Here’s why the answer to that question is so important. If God is the One who gives us sickness and disease, we should accept them as a gift. We shouldn’t want to get better if sickness is His will. We shouldn’t visit the doctor or pursue recovery! We shouldn’t take medication to take the edge off the pain. Our response to everything from the common cold to terminal illness should be, More Lord! After all, if God is the One who wants you sick, why would you try and ruin His sickness by being healed?

But if God is not the author of sickness and disease, we should wholeheartedly reject it. We should demonstrate an outright refusal to stand for anything less than perfect health, and posture ourselves in prayer accordingly.

I know too many Christians who think God wants them sick. Earlier this year, I was in Boston for a wedding. One of my best childhood friends was getting married, and it was the first time many in our group of friends had been together in years.

Another one of our friends – let’s call him Ted – was notably absent. He had grown callous and withdrawn over the past few years. Every time I went home to visit my parents, I would reach out to Ted and ask him to meet up; but Ted always had something else to do.

On my way to the wedding ceremony, walking down a cobblestone street in historic downtown Boston, I heard Ted’s voice ring out. “Whitey!”[2] I turned around, surprised but delighted to see Ted. We hugged, and sat next to each other during the wedding. After the ceremony, at the cocktail hour, we finally had the chance to talk.

Ted shared with me that his wife was struggling with long-term illness. Things had gotten so bad that some months, she was in the hospital for ten days out of thirty. She and he were both suffering through this, and trying to keep their relationship intact. However, they were tired. They were separated, and possibly headed towards divorce.

Ted confessed that he knew he had promised to love his wife in sickness and in health. But things had gotten so bad that both he and his wife wondered if they should try to stay together. “What I can’t wrap my head around,” Ted eventually admitted, “…is why would God do this to us?”

I took a deep breath and chose my next words very carefully. I wanted to support Ted and say something that would heal instead of hurt; so I offered this: “But what if it isn’t God?”

Ted looked at me quizzically. After several seconds, he asked me what I meant. For the next fifteen minutes, he and I talked – on the balcony of a cocktail hour at a wedding in Boston – about the reality that Satan exists. He is the author of sickness and disease. He is the one who tries to ruin our lives, not God. Satan is the one who brings pain and suffering, and then tries to convince us that we have to live with it!

At the end of our conversation, Ted smiled. “I never thought of that.”

Can you see it? Can you see how the enemy sneaks into our lives and we don’t even know it? Can you see how Satan loves to trick us into pinning his work on God?

I cannot tell you how many people – especially Christians – have the same mentality about God. We think God wants us to suffer. We think He’s out to get us! I wholeheartedly believe that suffering has a purpose, and God works through it; but to say that God is the author of suffering is, quite frankly, Biblically inaccurate.

If you think your sickness is from God, you will accept it. You will rationalize that God is teaching you something through your pain, and refuse to do the hard work of praying for healing. But if sickness is not from God, you must reject it with every fiber of your being!

I will be the first to admit that there is tension that arises when we know God wants us to be well, but we live in a world where people – even Christians! – are often very sick, and we all eventually die. But I believe it is our job to live in that tension. We should never read the Word of God through the lens of our imperfect life experience; but rather we should view our life experience through the lens of God’s perfect Word! Just because you are not healed does not mean that God’s will is for you to be anything but healthy. And just because you are sick certainly does not mean that God is the author of your disease.

The Book of Job

The story of Job is perhaps the most-cited example in Scripture that people mistakenly point to as “proof” that God puts sickness on His people. Job went through a lot, and he learned a lot. But to say that God “caused” Job’s suffering is simply not true:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. – Job 1:1-3

Job was “blameless and upright.” The word we would use in contemporary theology to describe Job is “righteous.” Job was about to suffer through incredible calamity; but we have to understand that it was not his fault. Everything that happened to Job was not the result of Job messing up, followed by God inevitably punishing him for his mistakes. If Job was “blameless and upright,” that means he hadn’t made any mistakes at all.

This nips “retribution theology” in the bud. Retribution theology claims that we receive the reward we deserve for our actions from God. If we do good, we will get good things from God! But if we do bad, we will get bad things from God. Job’s friends thought this was the case in Job’s life.[3] They assumed Job’s suffering was is own fault. But if Scripture says Job was “blameless,” that means his suffering was not the consequence of any mistake(s) he had made.

So if Job’s suffering wasn’t his own fault, then whose fault was it?

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” – Job 1:6-11

Here we see the true culprit, and the author of Job’s suffering: Satan. Scripture identifies Satan as the “…accuser of our brethren.”[4] His primary objective is to accuse you before God. Here we see him doing exactly that with Job. God loves Job! He is proud of Job! In verse 8, we even see God bragging to the heavenly host about what an amazing man and servant Job is!

But Satan hates it when God loves you, because Satan can never fully receive the love of God. So Satan’s retaliation is to attempt to bring pain and suffering into your life. He cannot take the love of God from you! But he can do his best to put you through so much pain and suffering that you are persuaded to give up your love for God.

And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. – Job 1:12

It was Satan’s “power” – not God’s – that caused sickness and suffering in Job’s life. Satan comes to “…steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (Jn 10:10). But Jesus has come that you may have abundant life![5]

We know the rest of the story. In Job 1, Job loses all his property and children (see vv 13-22); but he refuses to “charge God with wrong” (v 22). Isn’t it interesting that Job – the man experiencing the suffering – refused to attribute his calamity to God, yet we so often, from our vantage point thousands of years later, we assume God was the one who caused Job’s mess?

In Job 2, Satan goes at it again. He “…struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). Yet even then, Job “…did not sin with his lips” (v 10) by attributing Satan’s work to God.

Now you may be wondering, why would God allow this to happen in Job’s life? If God really loved Job so much, why would he let the enemy waltz in like that and steal everything that belonged to Job?[6] I don’t have all the answers, and I won’t trivialize your pain by attempting to offer an explanation of the “why” in this book. I will, however, give guidelines as to “where” we go from here.

For our purposes as it relates to healing, there are two primary takeaways from the Book of Job:

1) God restored double.

It is true that Satan stole everything from Job. It is also true that what Satan stole, God restored:

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. – Job 1:12-15

Satan steals; but God restores. And God not only restores fully; He restores double. Because Job never lost his faith, God gave Job “twice as much” as he had before. Double restoration is a constant refrain God repeats for His people throughout Scripture.[7] Our role is not to understand everything God does. Our job is to understand that whatever the enemy steals – whether health, relationships, or wealth – God will doubly restore.

Please do not accept your sickness as a gift from God. It is a curse from Satan; but God will remove it and install blessing in its place!

2) Job had no mediator…but you do!

Satan had it out for Job; and for whatever reason, God allowed Satan to take his best shot. But now that Jesus is here, everything has changed.

Job had no mediator. Yet because of the Cross, you and I do:

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time… – 1 Tim 2:5-6

When Satan asked for Job, Job had no one to advocate on his behalf. Yet because of the blood of Jesus, you and I do!

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. – 1 Jn 2:1-2

Don’t you see that everything changes on this side of the Cross? Job poses an Old Covenant question; but Jesus gives a New Covenant answer! Jesus! Because Jesus came and died on the Cross as your sickness and pain (see Chapter 1), you don’t have to worry about Satan coming after you like he came after Job!

In fact, Scripture gives us a New Testament parallel of Job 1 to show us exactly what would happen if Satan came after one of Jesus’ disciples:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” – Lk 22:31-32

Now that Jesus is here, nothing is the same. “Simon” is the disciple we know as Peter. This is the same Peter who walked on the water before taking his eyes off Jesus and sinking.[8] This is the same Peter who told Jesus he would follow Him even unto death![9] Satan knew the powerful destiny Peter had ahead of him, so he tried to sabotage it. Satan asked for Peter, just as he asked for Job!

But look at how the Divine response changes on this side of the Cross: “I have prayed for you” (v 32). Jesus is our Mediator! He is our Advocate! Jesus put His hand up, and said no to Satan. Where the Old Covenant said yes (Job 1:11), the New Covenant says no! It wasn’t that God changed His mind; it was simply that a new covenant was in place through Jesus Christ that facilitated a different measure of grace in response. Not on My watch! Peter’s with me! And that is exactly what Jesus’ response would be if Satan asked for you.

Aren’t you so happy you don’t have to worry about Satan attacking you like he attacked Job? Aren’t you so glad you have a Mediator and an Advocate who will resist Satan on your behalf? Aren’t you amazed that Jesus, at this very moment, is “making intercession”[10] for you?

Under the New Covenant, everything changes. Job had lots of questions; but in Jesus, you have the Answer.

Undoing Satan’s Work

All throughout New Testament Scripture, we see that Jesus spent His entire earthly ministry undoing the work of the Devil:

…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

Healing is the release of God’s “power.” And it is also the removal of “oppression by the devil.” The devil puts sickness on, and Jesus takes it off.

Jesus’ mission was to eradicate sickness and disease. Everywhere He went, people were healed. Everywhere He went, the oppressed were set free. Everywhere He went, eyes were open, ears were unstopped, and the dead were raised! Now if Jesus spent His time on earth eliminating the Devil’s work, what sense would it make for us to permit it in our lives here and now?

God and Jesus are One. So now that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places (Eph 1:20), God is not going to turn around and put the same sickness Jesus removed, back on His people! A house divided cannot stand (Matt 12:25)! Jesus was not some rebellious teenager who spent His time on earth doing something His Father didn’t want Him to do! He is the perfect Son of God, exercising His Father’s perfect will. And do you know what His Father’s will is? Healing!

Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

This is another example of a Scripture people love to point to and say, “See! God made someone sick!”

The Apostle Paul describes his suffering in his second letter to the church at Corinth:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. – 2 Cor 12:7

Paul had a good problem. He was getting such heavy doses of revelation straight from Heaven all the time that Satan got frustrated. So, Paul was given, “…a thorn in the flesh…, a messenger of Satan to buffet me.” Notice again the author of Paul’s suffering. This was not from God! This was a messenger of Satan. Messenger is the Greek aggelos,[11] which is where we get our English word “angel.” Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not a sickness or disease from God meant to keep Paul humble! It was demonic resistance: a messenger sent by Satan to buffet Paul.

In another portion of the same letter to Corinthians, Paul describes the suffering he experienced for the sake of the gospel:

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep… – 2 Cor 11:24-25

Paul was scourged with thirty-nine lashes on five separate occasions! That means he was whipped until the flesh hung off his back with a multi-pronged cat of nine tails, which typically had sharp pieces of bone and/or metal on the ends of the cords designed to rip the flesh from a man’s body. Three times he was beaten with rods. He was stoned and left for dead![12] He was shipwrecked on three separate occasions; and on one of those occasions, he was stranded alone in the ocean for a day and a half!

Paul was not struggling with sickness; he was dealing with demonic resistance to his preaching of the gospel. So how did he respond?

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. – 2 Cor 12:8

If Paul’s suffering was sickness from God, would he have begged God to take it away? If this “thorn in the flesh” was some disease from God, Paul wouldn’t have said, “Lord, take it away!” His response would have been, “More, Lord!”

As Paul pleaded, here was the Divine response:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Cor 12:9-10

For whatever reason, God permitted Paul’s suffering; but let’s be clear that He did not cause it. And Paul’s suffering had nothing to do with illness, and everything to do with demonic resistance to the work God had given him to do.

You see the word “infirmities” twice in vv 9 and 10 above. There again, Christians who advocate for their right to be sick love to point a finger and say, “AHA! See, Paul was sick!”[13] But “weakness” and “infirmity” are both the Greek word astheneia,[14] which refers to the human body’s relative frailty in comparison to God’s strength.

God’s exhortation to Paul was not, “Accept this sickness from Me!” It was, don’t lose faith: the same prayer Jesus prayed for Simon Peter in Luke 22! Paul was not supposed to hide what he was experiencing. He was to tell other people, so 1) they could be encouraged, and 2) he could become a magnet for the grace and power of Jesus Christ. The more you boast about your frailty, the more you will become a magnet for the Holy Spirit’s strength!

Ananias and Sapphira

The one and only example of a “Christian” being struck by God with sickness, disease, or death of which I am aware in the New Testament is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 4:32 says that the members of the early church “…had all things in common.” When someone was in lack, those in the church who had abundance made up for it.

In this atmosphere of supernatural generosity, Ananias and Sapphira claimed to be someone they were not. They sold a possession; and though they told church leadership they were donating all the proceeds to their faith community, they, “held back part of the proceeds” (Acts 5:2). In response, God was upset. The Holy Spirit struck and killed Ananias (v 5). Then, just several hours later, God struck down his wife, Sapphira, too (v 10).

But again, look who was really behind the whole attack:

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” – Acts 5:3

Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit; but it was Satan who had filled their hearts to do so. And if Satan had filled their hearts, were they really Christian at all? In my opinion, Ananias and Sapphira were no more “Christian” than was Judas when Satan filled his heart to betray Jesus.[15]

This was not, then, the case of God striking down His people. This was an instance of two people stepping outside the protective covering of God’s covenant, thereby becoming subject to the curse Jesus would have gladly accepted in their place, had they simply believed in Him.

Let It Ring

My wife and I live in Brooklyn along with our children. Our building has what’s called a “Virtual Doorman.” That’s really just a fancy name for an intercom panel on the wall outside our building. When someone comes to visit, they type in our apartment number, and a bell in our apartment rings so we can let them in.

Several years ago, we had a problem in our building. People would come to the door dressed as employees from UPS, FedEx, or the USPS. They really didn’t work for those companies, but they wore the uniform to perpetuate a scam. They would ring the buzzers for apartments in our building, and wait for someone to let them in. Their goal was to take packages from the building, full of things people had ordered from online retailers.

Unfortunately, time and time again, people from our building would let these people in! This frustrated me to no end. After all, there was a video feed on the intercom system! All you had to do was look closely and see who was actually trying to get inside and refuse to let them in! But people weren’t willing to do the hard work of looking closely and saying no. So they would just let the thieves right in.

Sometimes we treat the door to our body the same way. The enemy shows up, pretending to be God, with sickness and disease! But because we haven’t done the hard work of seeing what Scripture really says about sickness and disease, instead of turning him away, we let him right in! He walks right in and drops off sickness, disease, doubt, and unbelief. And because we’re too scared to tell him to get out, he walks off with the gifts (peace, love, and divine health) God wants us to have.

The moral of the story is this: don’t let Satan in! When he comes and tries to drop off something that doesn’t belong to you, say no. Find the truth in God’s word, and tell the enemy to take a hike!

Healing Testimony

Below is a testimony of someone healed in the Healing Rooms at CityLight Church on Saturday, September 14th, 2019. We are a church that not only preaches healing, but also experiences it time and time again!

I came to the healing rooms and asked for prayer over my stomach, right heel, and my lower back pain. The [prayer team members] were persistent and cast out doubt, unbelief, and fear; and I received the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit healed me from all three things.

“I had a bone spur in my heel that always caused me pain and right now I feel nothing: no pain! I came with high expectancy & I got healed. I am so grateful and happy about what God did for me.” – DN, 9/14/19

Take a risk. Take God at His Word. Believe Jesus heals! And watch what He does!

© Michael D. White, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original

content.

[1] http://intelligentcharismatic.com/sermons/god-wants-to-heal-you

[2] My last name is White; and this was the nickname attributed to me for several years in High School.

[3] See Job 4:7 as one example.

[4] “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” – Rev. 12:10

[5] “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – Jn 10:10

[6] For a thorough treatment on the theology of suffering, I would highly recommend the book Why Suffering? by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale.

[7] See Zech 9:12; Isaiah 61:7

[8] “And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” – Matt. 14:28-30

[9] “Peter said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ But he spoke more vehemently, ‘If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all said likewise.” – Mk 14:29-31

[10] “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” – Rom 8:34

[11] Strong’s G32

[12]Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” – Acts 14:19-20

[13] These same proponents of misery also point to Galatians 6:11, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand,” as supposed evidence that Paul had an eye disease. But alas, Paul’s comment refers to the length of his letters, and not the size of his handwriting.

[14] Strong’s G769

[15] “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.” – Lk 22:3-4