On one corner in the body of Christ in America, we have those groups who believe that all sickness is the result of an attack of Satan. Swinging far the other way on the spectrum of Christendom, are the groups who believe that every sickness or disease comes from our bodies' susceptibility to our environment and to inherited weaknesses. If only both of these groups could see that there is Biblical reference to support both positions, we would appear more rational to the eyes and ears, which always exist outside the established church.
I once addressed a small group of individuals who were of the mindset that every form of pain, sickness or disease is from the devil. I asked them this question; “If you have a headache, and that headache is an attack of Satan, and you take an aspirin and the headache stops, did you just cast out a demon with the aspirin?” Although such extreme views may seem ridiculous to those of us with other belief systems, however, I perceive that there are still multitudes that hold to the thinking that every sickness is from the devil.
A friend of mine from Oklahoma spent his life as a traveling evangelist. One night he saw a lady come forward for prayer for a serious illness. He watched the ladies of the church quickly gather around her and start praying loudly, and attempting to cast the devil of that named sickness out of her. Some were jumping; others were shouting the name of Jesus. The evangelist soon recognized the look of sheer terror on her face, but realized she was hopelessly surrounded by well-meaning praying women. He told me that after some time passed, he politely and unobtrusively worked his way through the crowd. When he got close enough to the panicked woman to be able to quietly give her some instruction, he said, “Ma’am, I believe if you just begin to shout ‘I’m free, I’m free’, I think they will leave you alone.” Sure enough, as she began to shout “I’m free” all the women dispersed in every direction, praising God as they departed.
The book of Job reveals Satan can be the source of sickness and that sickness can indeed be caused by his attack on our lives. We see in Matthew 17:18 that Jesus cast the devil out of a boy who was having a type of epileptic seizure and throwing himself in the fire and was delivered. Acts 10:38 does tell us that Jesus went about healing all those who were oppressed by the devil so in all fairness we can see how some groups come by their position. However, Paul called Timothy to “rightly divide the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15b(KJV), and we are called to do the same. In interpreting scripture, we must remember that God has given us spiritual elders for a reason. We should seek guidance from those who have spent their lifetime studying the scriptures and applying them in everyday life. Most agree that, yes, starting with Adam and Eves’ fall in the Garden of Eden, sickness entered into the world. Scripture directs us to deal with sickness through prayers of faith. Where deliverance is needed that may involve sickness, the Holy Spirit must give discernment. For most sickness we should heed the instruction of James 5:14-16. It teaches; “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. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up; and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him.” (KJV)
Paul in Philippians 2:25-30 refers to a co-worker named Epaphroditus. Paul tells us that Epaphroditus was sick because he was working so hard for the Lord that he had “not regarded his life”. The Lord did heal him and Paul admonished the Philippians to honor him with “high esteem” and made no suggestion that he suffered from a demon.
The New Testament tells us that Christ healed sicknesses such as leprosy, blindness, and paralysis, but in those contexts made no reference to Him casting out devils. The early disciples were instructed to “lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” We as believers should realize that if we just will study it as a complete work, the Bible balances itself out. This will protect us from building doctrines, positions, or movements on “pick and choose” scriptures taken out of context by supposed “special revelations from the Lord”. It will also help us to understand how God uses natural means like doctors and medicines to deal with naturally occurring sickness and disease. Equally important is that He also uses the “name of Jesus” spoken in spiritual authority to deal with demonically inflicted illness! If I burn my hand by touching my stove I do not need to cast out a burn demon, I need some form of medical treatment. If something as natural as a viral microorganism comes in contact with my body, I do not need a demon cast out. I need either a miraculous healing from the Lord or a proven medicine to treat it. In Mark 2:17a Jesus taught that those that are sick need a physician.
Jesus was quoted, and all the writers of the New Testament gave clear warnings that in the last days many false Christs and teachers would emerge. Sadly, all too often many come to Christ and then observe something done “In the name of the Lord” which emanated from mans’ often well-meaning intentions, and have it not be from God at all. These new believers then often stumble then tragically fall away. Especially during this critical hour, in the world, on the subject healing, let us all heed the admonition of Proverbs 11:1a; “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord but a just weight is His delight.” (KJV)
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.