The Word Faith Movement has been responsible for a lot of teachings seeping into the church for several decades now and one of the more popular teachings stemming from them is the idea that Christians should never be sick. Take for instance the following statement from Gloria Copeland:
“When Jesus bore away our sins, He also bore away our diseases. The Cross pronounced a complete cure for the ills of mankind.
The Church of Jesus Christ has been made just as free from sickness as it has been made free from sin. …
A Christian may continue to be sick after he has been born again, but he does not have to. He has been redeemed from sickness. The price has been paid for his healing. Sickness can no longer exert dominion over him unless he allows it.”
Is this really true? Are Christians really supposed to be free of sickness? Well, right off the bat, we can see in scripture that the idea isn’t true that “[s]ickness can no longer exert dominion over him unless he allows it.” We have the apostle Paul as the prime example of this. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 we find these words from Paul:
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Many have questioned whether this was a physical ailment, but the fact it was a “thorn in the flesh” hints at a physical sickness. Paul’s sickness, which came from Satan, also shows that Christians can be physically oppressed by the forces of darkness, which is totally different from a possession. Paul did not want the sickness and prayed three times for it to be removed, but instead of God removing it, the Lord told Paul that his grace would be sufficient for Paul to endure even in the midst of his physical infirmity. So the sickness exerted itself even when Paul did not “allow it,” so Mrs. Copeland’s statement is wrong.
There is further proof in scripture that Paul was fighting a physical sickness. He told the following to the Galatians in chapter 4:
13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
It’s quite possible that his sickness dealt with his eyes if the Galatians were willing to donate their eyes to him. There are other instances where it is acknowledged Christians can be sick. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 25:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. ….
40 …Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
In this passage, Jesus acknowledged that his brethren, the believers, would get sick. We also witness in Philippians 2 that Epaphroditus nearly died from the sickness he got while he was busy doing the work of the Lord. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul instructed Timothy to drink wine for his stomach ailment and for his “often infirmities.” James acknowledged that believers in the church got sick in James 5, and instructed the sick to call the elders of the church so they could pray over them and anoint them for their healing. It’s obvious that the Bible teaches that sickness is a byproduct of living in a fallen world and is not necessarily a reflection on one’s spiritual state since Christians can get sick even if they don’t want to.
Harry A. Gaylord