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  • Steve Derenge

As a Believer in Jesus, Should I Try Healing the Sick or Not?


As a believer in Jesus, should I try healing the sick or not?

Let me share where I am on that question at this point in my life.

If you've seen the movie What about Bob?, Bob’s (Bill Murray) new psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) gives him his new book called Baby Steps. Bob, who is full of fear throughout daily life, is filled with gratitude to Dr. Marvin when he perceives that the “baby steps” method helps him make progress in his daily life.

Admittedly, I have a tendency towards extreme introversion, so I tend only to act at last possible moment after analyzing a lot of information to be absolutely sure that I'm doing the right thing. In that way, I tend to be a lot like Bob. Even after analyzing the situation for a long time, I might decide that I may not have enough time or that I shouldn't act based on my analysis of the changing environment or situation.

Someone may ask: Should a Christian go praying for every sick person whom she or he sees everyday?

Let us examine that question with some biblical considerations:

Did Jesus pray for every sick person he saw? No, for in John 5, Solomon's colonnade was filled with sick and paralyzed people, but Jesus only healed one. Even the one he healed wasn't grateful for the healing, but Jesus healed him anyway out of compassion. The man didn't even explicitly ask to be healed, but complained about how it's always someone else who gets healed instead of him.

“Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you." (John 5:14 ESV) It is as if Jesus warned him, “See how you are healed?! Repent and believe in the gospel. Follow me. If you don't leave your life of sin, seven demons more wicked than what I saved you from are going to return and make you much worse off than before. You might even end up dead.” (My paraphrase). c.f. Mark 1:15; 8:34ff; John 8:10; Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26.

Likely Jesus and his disciples passed by the lame beggar who for many years was laid daily at the temple gate called Beautiful, but Peter and John didn't heal him until the man engaged them in Acts 3.

So sometimes Jesus and the apostles took the initiative to heal the sick. Other times, the sick--after getting faith to be healed--took the initiative to get themselves to Jesus by whatever means necessary. In those cases, Jesus didn't hesitate to heal them whenever he saw their faith expressed through their actions. Nevertheless, healing the sick and casting out demons was a regular part of the proclamation of the gospel throughout our "Instruction Manual."

In light of the “baby steps” principle, unless the Holy Spirit tells you otherwise, don't feel pressured to pray for every single sick person you see “on the street,” but at least be open or willing to take “baby steps” in various situations as you fall deeper in love with Jesus and consequently grow in compassion for your neighbor. c.f. Romans 12:1-3. Different believers have different levels of faith or confidence in God. But the good news is that if we don't have faith we can get it, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (see Romans 10:17). Because without faith it is impossible to please God and the righteous will live by faith, we must live not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. c.f. Hebrews 11:6; Romans 1:16-17; Matthew 4:4; Galatians 2:20.

Some Christians see God’s commands and promises though the good news of Jesus Christ, believe it, and are excited to obey Christ. That's the goal and direction I’d like to go. In nobody do I want to diminish that fire, passion, and desire for God to be glorified. I never want to discourage someone from taking a risk when they think God is commanding them to do something. For it is better--in my judgment--to take a risk and not see results yet, than to stay in one’s comfort zone for fear of what might happen. So if a follower of Jesus takes the risk of praying for a sick person but doesn't see immediate results, I say “Wow, you took a step of faith from a desire to please your Master. Good job! Don't be discouraged. Keep seeking the Lord in the secret place, asking the Holy Spirit to teach you His Word as you meditate on it day and night” (Psalm 1; 91; Matthew 6:6).

The Holy Spirit is the member of the triune Godhead on the earth today. It used to be Jesus, but Jesus ascended to the right hand of God the Father some 40 days after God raised him from the dead. When Jesus was the member of the Godhead on the earth, his disciples once tried healing an epileptic, but they couldn't drive the demon out. What was their response? They went to Jesus privately and asked, “Why couldn't we drive it out?” Then Jesus taught them why so that they could do better next time. The same principle applies to Christians today who have the Holy Spirit as Teacher. See Matthew 17:14-21; 23:8-12; Mark 9:14-29.

If you don't yet have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then I suggest my recently revised article

Would You Like to Kick Satan's Butt Personally?

I also recommend The Four Spiritual Laws for Honor-Shame Contexts (from Jayson Georges' honorshame.com).