Paul's thorn and healing & other arguments
There are some really devastating arguments being taught in Christian circles today that completely tear part a person's faith which is required to receive their healing. We need to know that our healing has been paid for in the same manner that the forgiveness of our sins was, otherwise, we won't have the genuine Biblical faith needed to receive our healing. I would like to put the light on some badly misinterpreted passages in the Bible, which are used to so-called prove that it may not always be God's will to heal.
Paul's thorn was not sickness or disease
This is one of the most popular reasons why the body of Christ is seeing their members go to the grave, when they could have been healed. The gruesome thing about this misinterpretation is that not only does it tell people that it may not be God's will to heal them, but it actually makes the person accept, welcome, and be thankful for their sickness! The flesh that is being talked about here in this passage was not Paul's physical body, but rather his fleshly nature. If you read the whole passage carefully, it tells us clearly what this thorn really is, and it all has to do with the human limitation (infirmity) of man, and the power of God being shown through Paul; as a result, Satan sends along persecution (a messenger) to cause reproaches, distresses, and other perseuctions upon Paul for the sake of the gospel. Let's take a close look at this passage:
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
If we read the entire passage, we get a new light that would otherwise be missed. What is Paul really talking about here? He's speaking of how it is God working through Him, and giving Him abundance of revelation, visions, etc. Then Satan decides to send Paul a thorn in the flesh (notice that it's called a message of Satan - an evil spirit sent from Satan to Paul), to stir up persecution and trouble for Paul.
How do we know this thorn was persecution?
Verse 10 comes right and tells us so: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake..."
Whenever you see the word therefore, it is referring to what was just being said a moment ago. So if we look at verse 9, what was it that God wasn't taking from Paul? It involved infirmities (weaknesses or human limitations), reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses FOR Christ's sake. Why were these things upon him? Because of Christ's sake; it was because he was preaching the gospel, that these things came upon him... reproaches, beatings, lashings, prison, hunger, and persecution. All of this falls under the banner of persecution!
Why is Paul's thorn not sickness?
1. The Bible tells us that our healing was PAID for by the Blood of Christ. Would God withhold the other benefits of the cross from us, such as the forgiveness of sins or the right to be delivered from demonic inhabitation? Absolutely not! He paid for those things for us, and they are ours to be received and enjoyed.
2. Does the passage above come out and say, "Sickness or disease"? No, it uses the term flesh, which can refer to either the physical body, or the fleshly nature of man.
3. If you look carefully at verse 7, it tells us what it was - a messenger of Satan - a DEMON!
Some other interesting things about Paul's thorn
1. People often think that the FLESH is physical, but they would never believe that the THORN was. Do you honestly believe that Paul had a PHYSICAL thorn stuck out of his hip? Then why do we think that it was referring to a PHYSICAL flesh then?
2. The whole context of the story here wasn't talking about sickness or disease, but about what Paul had to go through because God was using him so powerfully to present the gospel to the world.
3. If you look at verse 7, it tells us that this thorn was a messenger of Satan - a DEMON! So let's say it was a physical sickness, then it would have been caused by a demon of infirmity (as we find in Luke 13). Is there anybody alive today that would claim that God would give His child a demon to inhabit their body so that through this weakness, He could be glorified?
By the way, if you look up the word 'messenger' in this passage in the NT Greek, it gives us the root word aggelos which actually refers to an angel (or in this case, a fallen angel). This was clearly a demon that was stirring up reproaches, persecutions, distresses, and hardships for Paul.
Our cross is not one of sickness or disease
The next thing we find are believers sickened and diseased, and convinced that they are doing God a service by 'carrying their cross' in life. This is so important to understand that the cross Jesus was referring to had absolutely nothing to do with sickness or disease! Let's take a look at this passage:
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Looking at the bigger picture here, Jesus was clearly speaking about persecution that we will endure for His sake. He even says that those of our own household will be our enemies (providing they do not accept the truth about God and His Word), and we need to be prepared to have even those closest to us turn against us for Jesus' sake.
Some might say, "But Jesus carried our sickness and diseases on His cross!" Well, He also took our sins too... are we supposed to carry our sins as Jesus did? Absolutely not! He carried our sins, sicknesses, and diseases so that we don't have to.
Jesus carried a cross of persecution, and He also requires that we carry one as well.
...If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Persecution is just a fact of life for those of us who desire to take the Word of God seriously.
What about Joni Eareckson Tada?
It seems you can't get into a conversation about healing and faith, without Joni coming up somewhere in the discussion. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I do not hate Joni in the least bit way, shape or form. It would bring me much joy to see her healed if she were receptive to the truth in the Word of God concerning her healing.
I would like to point out a few things about Joni's case in particular that most people may not be aware of. As a result of her trauma, she became bitter with God for not healing her right away. Bitterness against God will block a healing in anybody's life. Unfortunately, I do not believe this root of bitterness was fully resolve, as it is still evident in her when she attacked the Word of Faith movement like she did. In an interview, she claimed that Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland never called her to invite her to one of their crusades - why should they have to call her? Did they do wrong by not calling her? These people did nothing wrong to her, and even if she did go to their crusades and was prayed over, if the unresolved bitterness was not dealt with, it doesn't matter who prays over you, that healing may never manifest. In my experience with working in the area of deliverance and spiritual bondages, a comment like this came out of a heart of bitterness. She has taken offense in her heart against them because they did not call her, and when the right time came, it bubbled out of her in front of an audience of thousands and thousands of people - she slammed her brothers in Christ when they did nothing wrong! Most people will deny any sort of bitterness in their heart, but Jesus said that out of abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Comments like this come out of somebody who's heart has unresolved issues of bitterness.
...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Unfortunately, she misleads other believers by proclaiming that it is not always God's will to heal, simply because that has been her own personal experience. Joni's experience (which does not consider all the facts) is being preached over what the Word of God has to say about divine healing. Her experience, excluding all the facts, is devastating to the body of Christ, because it attempts to prove God's Word as unreliable and untrue - it proclaims that it can be God's will for His children to suffer when Jesus paid a steep price for our physical healing when He shed His blood!
Why some are not healed
There are a lot of factors to consider when seeking a healing. Often when a person is not healed, there is a reason for it, just as when a person's deliverance fails. Wouldn't it be silly to give up on a stubborn demon in somebody, and consider it God's will for them since it won't come out at the first command? Goodness gracious!
Here are some common reasons why a person may not receive their healing:
1. They do not know the will of God concerning their healing, therefore their prayer is a prayer of hope and not faith. In other words, because they do not know God's will, they cannot have true Biblical faith to receive their healing.
2. There may be mental, emotional, or spiritual roadblocks to their healing. For example, if a person's heart holds unforgiveness towards somebody who has wronged them, it will cause them to abide in spiritual death (see 1 John 3:14) and keeps their own sins between them and God (see Matthew 6:15). Fear is another roadblock to healing, because it is not trusting or believing that God will take care of them.
3. They may need to go through a deliverance, because we're finding that many diseases are instantly leaving as demons are being cast out of people! Like the woman in Luke 13 or the man that was mute in Matthew 9, there are many cases of physical infirmities that are caused by an unclean tormenting spirit. I believe that Benny Hinn and Perry Stone, along with others will tell you that cancer is almost always a demon. If you're praying for a healing, when you need to be casting out demons, then you might be praying yourself right into your grave.