Continuing the call of David in Psalm 103.1 to praise God’s holy name, I have been singing “Jesus name above all names”. I look up and see a beautiful light shining from the top of the mountains – the world around is dark – then I see myriads of lights of all colours of the rainbow, spread out through the dark.
“Look at those lights Ian, those are all the places I touched and led you and blessed you this past year. But it has always been – you have just not been so aware, there has never been a moment when I wasn’t near you. During that time that contact has always been for your benefit – to bless you – to grow you and prepare you to be part of My bride. Just relax now and let that knowledge flow over you as you prepare for the road ahead.”
Today, is a Friday like any other, yet it has considerable symbolic significance. I choose to look back in an attitude of grateful thanksgiving for the past year. There is so much to be hugely grateful for, as we close this chapter of our lives. Yet it will always be part of us, won’t it?
I have spent some time in Psalm 103 this week but want to just stop on vs 3 for today. It is an age-old question, much debated and probably misunderstood by many. So in the psalm David starts his list of benefits we have received from God, remembering the benefit which is probably of prime importance. Having our sins forgiven. To underline that, he returns to this theme again in vv 8-13. Plumer says that “all human blessedness …. must be based on the forgiveness of sin”.
Now the question is what is the link between the blessing of sins forgiven and healing of all diseases, as mentioned in this vs. There are, of course, those who would say that the healing is built into the promise of the covenant. A favourite verse is “we are healed by His stripes” Isaiah 53:5c.
Even though this blog is not the place for a complete discussion of the whole question of healing and forgiveness, I want to put forward a few thoughts on the subject for you to chew on, as the Lord turns the page into the New Year.
- Healing is built into our creation. The whole physiology of the body is focused on healing. At their best, doctors can simply buy into that and assist in some way. We must presume that in the Garden, where there was no death, this function worked perfectly in keeping man healthy.
- The curse, God’s reaction to sin, brought death and all forms of sickness into being.
- Some sicknesses, like STD’s in many cases are the direct result of sinful actions. You can lump a lot of things into that. Heart disease, diabetes, many forms of metal illness, trauma, the list is endless. Can forgiveness reverse those diseases? Well yes, but only in some cases. In most others, although one can receive forgiveness, one has to bear the consequences of the sinful behaviour.
- Every sinful action or thought can be classed as a sign of imperfection – “sickness, as it were.
- When we are born again, God starts a process of reversing the effects of sin. He doesn’t just forgive, He brings restoration. This may include physical healing, perhaps through a better functioning of our own physiology of healing. I often allow my imagination to play on the way God is working in my body, if I’m sick. I may pray like: “Please activate my immune system Lord. Let all those cells and antibodies swing into action etc” But the focus is probably much more on Spiritual healing and cleansing. The two are intimately intertwined and continue to be fostered by our relationship with our Father, who created us. These two aspects, as real as they are, are governed by the basic principle of the gospel expectation “now but not yet”. We have been given it all, yet much is still “in the bank” as it were. That means we are still not experiencing it completely in practice yet. We are all still going to die, some time or other.
In summary then. Sickness and even the way we respond to infections, is closely linked to our psyche, our thoughts and minds, our attitudes, sinful and spiritual and that again is still very much influenced by sin. So forgiveness of sins, releases an enormous potential for healing, then and in the future. That is why we need to continually remember the huge benefit of forgiveness, so that we can receive that benefit on all fronts, on an ongoing basis.