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Welcome to Doctor's Life Support, daily Bible readings for busy doctors...

2nd September 2014: A Dangerous Belief

Indeed he was ill, near to death... Philippians 2:27

Some of the greatest disasters I have ever seen in the lives of Christians have stemmed from mistaken beliefs. And not uncommonly these beliefs are concerned with healing -- or rather with its failure to occur.

Tim was a Christian who must have been born running. His zeal was incredible. During his leadership of our hall Christian Union, some dozen residents gave their lives to Christ in as many months, and many Christians whose lives were tangled up got straightened out again.

They were tremendously exciting days. Yet through it all I was very concerned for Tim himself, since his zeal and enthusiasm so often seemed to deviate from Scriptural teaching, a prime example being his fervent belief that no Christian should ever be sick, or even have any symptoms of disease. All sneezes, snuffles and sore throats had their source directly from Satan and could -- and should -- be instantly rebuked and removed in prayer.

It is true that we do read of many miraculous healings in the Bible (significantly though, I think, always of serious disease). But equally we read of those who were not healed in such a way, so far as we can tell. Probably the best known example is that of Timothy, who was advised by Paul to take some medication for his stomach complaint (1 Tim 5:23). But it seems that Epaphroditus also had an illness (from which he nearly died), and although we read that God had mercy on him and he survived, there is no indication that any instantaneous healing occurred.

Tim discovered the great danger of his unbalanced belief in no uncertain terms when he attended a wedding one weekend, and quite spontaneously his intestine perforated during the reception and he was admitted for emergency surgery. I went to visit him in hospital, and I remember the saddest thing about it all was not the sight of the drips and drainage tubes running in and out of every orifice, but the fact that his faith had suffered a severe blow from which it never recovered. Instead of listening to what the Lord was saying to him through this crisis, he didn't want to know any more. I wept for him.

I firmly believe that God can and does heal today by a wide variety of means, including the miraculous. But we must always remember that he is the Lord, and we have no right to demand or presume upon his healing power. Let us beware of the danger of an unbalanced view of healing that ultimately brings only hurt and misery in its wake.

Further reading: Phil 2:25-30. 2 Cor 12:7-10.

TGS