Happy New Year!!!! As we enter 2019, leaders at TGP have decided to do start the year of sermons with a series on healing. We know healing comes from a variety of sources. Scientifically, many things have been discovered over the centuries that shed light on what makes a body sick and what keeps us healthy. There are various treatments for different ailments. All of which are good a useful. I take ibuprofen when I have a headache or fever. Yesterday I, Pastor Todd, started our healing series off. You can hear the full message here. Today, I’d like to reflect on the three major points we covered. So we will look at what I have found through studying life, scripture, and health to be the root causes of most if not all of our illnesses.
In my experience, I have found many people belonging to one of two camps when it comes to understanding physical health and the metaphysical world. On one side are the skeptics. This side is dismissive of any explanation of illness that is not scientifically grounded. They tend to dismiss deeper explanations as hokey superstitions. On the other side are those who I would say exemplify said hokey superstitions. They tend to think there is a spiritual connection to every ailment there is. For them, the diagnosis is simple. We are sick either because of a particular sin we have committed and not repented of, or because of a demonic attack.
I believe the first view limits the scope of understanding to the naturalistic realm and therefore limits their ability to consider root causes. That being the case, they can only deal with the phenomena of the symptoms, not the root causes. That is all good and well if we are only dealing with point 1 of this article.
A solid believer in Christ won’t be such a victim of demonic power, nor to a karmic view of sin and punishment
I also believe the second view gives too much power to the effects of isolated “sins” and the demonic realm. With that in mind, a solid believer in Christ won’t be such a victim of demonic power, nor to a karmic view of sin and punishment. A karmic view of sin and punishment almost follows along the idea of Newton’s explanation of force and gravity: “Every action has an equal, yet opposite reaction.” That is something I don’t buy. It is too simplistic in the complex world we live in. Were that the case, every instance of obedience would yield and equal instance of blessing. Every instance of disobedience would yield an equal instance of misfortune. That can’t even be found in the Bible. So where do I stand in terms of illness?
The foundation thoughts that relate to the following points are:
- We live in a fallen world and are subject to its fallen state. Biological creatures are complex organisms that exist on the same planet as bacteria, viruses, gravity, etc. We are part of a system that is interrelated. When one part (say a virus) go awry, it impacts things around it negatively.
- Humans have free will. We make choices. Those choices are never isolated. Every choice we make impacts other people either positively or negatively. There are consequences for our choices and actions. (And yes, even inaction is still an action). With that in mind, I think the three primary (not an exclusive list) root causes of illness in humanity are: Biological Infection, Illness Related to Consistently Poor Choices, and Spiritually/Psychologically Connected Illnesses.
Every choice we make impacts other people either positively or negatively. There are consequences for our choices and actions.
Bacterial, Viral Infections
This is the simplest of the three categories. We live in a world replete with bacteria and viruses. In this category, I would include all sorts of narual, biologically recurring illnesses. It is the most straightforward cause and effect on the human body. We get an infection, it attacks our body in a particular way, we fight it off with medicine and our own immune system.
Scientific discovery has come a long way in uncovering the causes and effects of different strains of bacteria and viruses. Immunizations have reduced the mortality rate caused by numerous different bacterial and viral infections.
Being the most straightforward of the root causes, this is also the easiest to pray for healing. This is simply a matter of boosting the immune system to combat the infection. We can come in agreement for God to heal a sick person and believe He will completely restore their body. I would also add, it is not a lack of faith if we take medicine along with prayer. To use a mechanical analogy: If I know a bolt is 10mm. It is not a faithless act to use a 10mm wrench to loosen it. Knowing ibuprofen is an anti-inflamint and refusing to take it for an inflammation in the body because I want to be “healed by faith” is just as foolish as thinking there is faith-based way of removing the bolt without using a 10mm wrench (or other 10mm sized tool). I believe a wise man once said, “Don’t put God to a foolish test.” Faith is not just using words to get things done “spiritually” that could equally be done “physically.” Faith has a much more profound purpose than that. Faith is about finding God’s heart for his creation and partnering with him to call it forth, especially when there is no discernable solution. In terms of prayer for healing, we pray for God to heal and we advise taking the proper medication (if there is one). Either way, God brings the healing. To refuse proper medication for a known ailment is more of a foolish test. (Note: I acknowledge that some medications have worse side-effects than what they remedy and that continued, prolonged use of medication can have long-term detrimental effects on the body. If that is the case, then perhaps the root cause lays in one of the following categories).
We pray (for healing) and we do what we know is right (taking known medication). Acting in faith is just that–taking action. Faith is not a passive endeavor.
Acting in faith is taking action. Faith is not a passive endeavor.
Consistently Poor Choices
Sometimes our ailments are not merely rooted in an infection. Sometimes, the infection itself is a mere symptom of a deeper root issue. In this point, I would like to talk about the root cause for our need for healing being Consistently Poor Choices.
Many Christians (and other belief systems that advocate supernatural healing) look at illness as a simple cut on the body. Stitch it up (pray for it), and let nature (or God) take its course. That tends to work with the above category. It is simply a matter of removing the infection. However, if our illness is rooted in weaknesses in our body caused by continual poor choices, a simple prayer for healing won’t fix the problem.
If our illness is rooted in weaknesses in our body caused by continual poor choices, a simple prayer for healing won’t fix the problem.
Case in point: In the Summer of 2017, I hit my highest weight ever. I was 240lbs. I am only 5’7”. I was heavy enough to feel the struggle of getting out of bed in the morning and putting my shoes on. I would get winded having to bend over. When I went to the dr. for a checkup and to have some migraines (bad enough they would induce vomiting) examined, their standard examinations revealed a few things. 1. My cholesterol was extremely high. My blood pressure was through the roof. I was well on my way to becoming a diabetic.
I knew I had kept an unhealthy diet for far too long. I have always been a bit on the heavy side. But now, it was starting to show through breakdowns in my body. We couldn’t find a source for the migraines at the time.
I could have had people continue to pray for my migraines and any other ailment that came about. But if that was all I did, it wouldn’t have had any lasting effect. Why? Because it didn’t take care of the root issue: I had been making consistently poor choices in terms of diet and exercise. I wasn’t going to get any better until “I” changed my choices.
(Change 1) The dr. put me on blood pressure medicine (pressure was really high). After about a month, my blood pressure regulated. And I noticed something else, my migraines went away. I haven’t had a vomit-inducing migraine since.
(Change 2) I started doing research for food diets that could help me lose weight, alter my blood-sugar levels, and regulate my cholesterols. Then adhered to those diets.
As of Autumn 2018, I had lost 25+ pounds (though I gained a few back by the Dr. visit). I was off my blood pressure medicine. My cholesterols were improving.
Had I not changed, I was headed to diabetes-town. Now I’m trending away from it. I still have a ways to go, but I’m moving in the right direction.
There was a systemic issue with poor choices that affected my body. I needed healing. A simple prayer was not going to fix it. I needed to change. This is where a great amount of illness comes from. Many of us are only concerned with treating the symptoms, and not the root cause. A prayer for wisdom and a commitment to act is what I have found to be the best way to partner with God in healing from this kind of root cause.
This is where the gifts of discernment and words of knowledge can be very valuable.
Here is a brief list of examples of consistently poor choices that lead to illness:
- Overuse of alcohol or other chemical substances to treat stress (chemical dependence)
- Continuing to be in toxic relationships (Emotional instability, low self-worth, feeling unempowered)
- Social isolation/social media as prime social outlet (vain imagination, unable to discern real relationships, troubles with intimacy)
- Irregular sleep patterns (weakened immune system, feelings of lethargy/depression, higher risk of heart disease)
- Non-nutritional diet (weakened immune system, unhealthy weight gain, lower energy, can’t concentrate, constant unhealthy cravings)
I am not a doctor, these are just a few examples where prayer for healing must be accompanied by a change in lifestyle patterns and habits. Prayer for healing can help. However, prayer for how to “Repent” and “Change” would be more in line with Biblical Christianity.
So there are times when we are simply fighting an infection. There are times when we are dealing with the effects of our habitual lifestyles. Then there are times (yes these are real) when we face spiritual attacks and/or psychological impediments that adversely affect our health. Again, this is an area where we need to act where we know how to act. It is also a root cause that can be brought out through the gifts of discernment and words of knowledge. Sometimes we may think it is a simple infection, or related to lifestyle habits, but in the end, it is rooted in a spiritual bondage/attack. It could also be rooted in a deception/lie that we have are believing is true. When we believe a lie, we will organize our decision-making process around it. The lie becomes a governing factor that determines how we act. How we act continually becomes our habits. Those habits affect our bodies and our relationships. Belief governs will. Knowing that, all of our actions and habits are rooted in what we believe. We could believe 95% truly and 5% falsely and that 5% of false belief will still influence how we make decisions. If we are repeatedly making harmful decisions (to our bodies, our relationships, our work), then we are acting out of a belief in a lie somewhere.
When we believe a lie, we will organize our decision-making process around it. The lie becomes a governing factor that determines how we act.
Getting to the root of these lies are what our I-61 ministry is about. Sometimes, we even know our actions are influenced by something, but we don’t know what that something is. There is a nuanced difference between Spiritual attacks and Psychological impediments.
Spiritual attacks are ultimately removed by renunciation and casting out the attacker. Psychological impediments are rooted in a lie. Many times, the spiritual attack comes because the enemy has a stronghold in our belief system and has fed us a lie. Other times, the attack comes as the enemy is trying to find a way to get a foothold, exploiting our weaknesses.
Unearthing this during prayer would be more involved than praying for healing from an infection. It may even involve some inner healing prayer agreements.
It can be overwhelming when we talk about these different kinds of roots as we pray for healing in people or in ourselves. However, Scripture says a lot about healing, restoration, forgiveness, and being made new. It also talks about spiritual authority. Those who are in Christ have the power and authority to break down strongholds of the demonic realm. They also have access to the Holy Spirit, the very spirit involved in creating our ecological system and all life inside it. If anyone knows the inner workings of our bodies, it is Him. And He is there to inform, enlighten, and guide us as we walk out our redemption in faith. He will give us insight, power, and wisdom to partner with Him in bringing about healing, restoration, and change in our lives.
So those are a few of my reflections on yesterday’s message. I hope you found this post informative and encouraging. And most of all, I hope it helped you to further experience God’s