And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee:
and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
As I study the subject of healing and look deeper into the many different experiences and results of those who have been effected by healing ministries, I am constantly reminded that many of the people I am dealing with are very gifted and godly people. I am not talking about the healers who fill auditoriums or the pastors who fill churches; I am talking about the normal people who are sometimes very gifted by God and awesome Christians who are sucked into the faith healing teachings. I admire them for their faith and the gifts they bring to the Body of Christ, yet I realize that they will be offended by what I say.
With every article I post, I also realize that there are some who are better off health-wise because they have been to a Benny Hinn Crusade, or claimed healing that wasn’t there before, or because they listened to their pastor who taught faith healing. I know that most of these times, these people are better off – not because Benny, or their pastors, or anyone else held special powers – but they are better off because their own thought process and their own expectations which opened up an avenue for them to find relief and maybe even a cure for whatever disease they faced. Some of them may even have been face to face with a real miracle. But these cases are not as common as many believe.
I am also aware that these people who are helped are a very small percentage compared to the multitudes who are disappointed, or who try to convince themselves that they are better even when they aren’t. I know that countless others are confused because they don’t understand what exactly happened to them when they felt or experienced something in their bodies at some healing meeting, but their feeling or experience turned out to be short lived. Many people blame themselves for not getting healed or for losing healing because they were told that they lacked faith and they feel like they are missing out on God’s gift. Others, like me and my friends, were simply tools on a stage, used by the healer to promote the appearance of a healing that never happened.
Worst of all, parents decide to trust God and not modern medicine, and as they look for a miracle, their children die.
In all of this mess, for this post, I want to focus on those who refuse modern medicine and hospitals – people who claim healing at great costs – people who believe that they are healed when their bodies say differently. In denying and confessing, these people are usually not doing anything spiritually pleasing to God, but are in fact, tempting the Lord. Look at how Jesus dealt with the same temptation.
THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS
- “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).” The Bible tells us to pray that God would not lead us into temptation, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'” (Mat 6:13) This means that God may from time to time lead us into temptations, not to ruin us, but to test us and strengthen us.
- The Greek word temptation is “peirasmos,” which can be translated either temptation or trial. When Jesus was in the wilderness he faced a trial in the form of temptation.
- Satan bombarded Jesus with doubts about his own status. “If you are the Son of God” was repeated over and over. Jesus was tempted to doubt his authority and his identity.
- Satan tempted Jesus to view his own ministry as an opportunity to advance fame and wealth. Later in his ministry, Satan would again hit Jesus with this one by the mouth of Peter. When Peter and the disciples realized that Jesus was the messiah, Peter only wanted to experience the glory and wealth of the kingdoms, so when Jesus began talking about his death, Peter rebuked him for saying this. Jesus’ world and his disciples did not understand that the messiah had to suffer and die. They only believed and looked for a glorious time of ruling over the other nations. Because Jesus knew better, he turned to Peter after the rebuke and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns (Mark 8:33).” Jesus needed to die and conquer death in order to break Satan’s hold over humanity, but the world and the disciples only understood the power of politics and success.
- Satan tempted Jesus to use his authority and power to serve his personal needs by changing a stone into bread. After forty days of fasting, Jesus’s body began to starve and needed real food in order to survive. His temptation would have been huge. Justifying his disobedience would have been easy as he needed food to survive.
- Finally, and most importantly for this post, Satan tempted Jesus to prove to the world that he was the Messiah by throwing himself off the heights of the temple. For this temptation, Satan used scripture. “”If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Matthew 4:6).'””
Notice that scripture in this last temptation was quoted and that Jesus was tempted to believe that his body would be protected by throwing himself into danger. The devil wanted Jesus to conclude that God promised to protect him from bodily harm because the Bible promised that in Psalm 91. The devil’s reasoning is the same used by snake handling churches in the deep South of the U.S. In those churches, they use Mark 16:18 which is a verse that promises the same kind of protection Psalm 91 promises.
The devil’s reasoning is the same used by people who refuse modern medicine, as they use verses such as Matthew 21:21 which says that we can move mountains with faith.
Jesus did not give in to the temptation to endanger his life and health. He knew that if he jumped he would have been putting God to a test, and he wasn’t willing to do that.
When people deny sound and proven medical advice, they tempt the Lord. When they refuse to give medicine to the sick that has been proven to work, they tempt the Lord. When they reject modern medicine in order to trust God and put their lives or their children’s lives in danger, they tempt the Lord. When people pick up snakes to prove that they have faith, they tempt the Lord.
Satan tells them to trust God and throw themselves down by tossing out insulin, and Christians follow demonic advice and toss insulin. Satan tells them that shots are unnecessary so people refuse shots and see their children get Chicken Pocks and seeing evidence of disease, they claim they are okay (this happened at Kenneth Copeland’s daughter’s church [http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/theres-a-measles-outbreak-at-vaccine-denying-pastor-kenneth-copelands-fort-worth-church-7110747]).
PAUL AND SICKNESS
Paul’s letters give us some insight into his world and the world of the people he worked with. In his letters we learn that some of his fellow workers got very sick and Paul acknowledged the fact that they were sick. Trophimus was so sick he could not continue traveling with Paul, “Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.” (2Timothy 4:20)
When his friends got sick, he acknowledged their sickness and left them behind so they could rest and recover, because rest was the medicine they needed to recover.
Then there was Epaphroditus: “But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;” “because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.” …”For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.” “because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me (Philippians 2:25 -30).”
When Paul spoke of Epaphroditus, Paul claimed that he was sick, risking his life for the work of Christ. This is completely contrary to the faith healing teachings which attribute sickness to sin, the devil and to a lack of faith. Today when people get sick, other friends and church members who believe in faith healing will rebuke the sick ones for their lack of faith. But in the Bible, Paul saw sickness in ministry as a reflection of the suffering of Christ (“because he [Epaphroditus] came close to death for the work of Christ [Philippians 2:30]”). Faith healers say that such sickness is a lie from the devil and not to be acknowledged or confessed, but Paul freely confessed the sicknesses of his friends and he held his sick friends in highest regard, because the were sick for the Lord’s work.
PAUL TOLD TIMOTHY TO TAKE PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE
Timothy was probably Paul’s dearest friend and helper and Paul told Timothy to drink more wine and less water in order to keep him from getting sick so often, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses(1Timothy 5:23).” In this case, wine was used as a medicine for preventing often sickness created by bad water.
When people claim healing and avoid proven medicines, they are acting foolishly and tempting God.
When people take up snakes and dance around the church holding poisonous snakes, they tempt the Lord.
When people have access to good doctors, but trust the Lord for healing instead, they are putting God to the test.
These are no different than Satan’s testing Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Matthew 4:6),'” and we need to remember what Jesus said about this kind of temptation: “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:7)