Healing is a popular subject these days. From medical advances that boggle the mind, to seeking out alternative cures and dietary solutions, it seems there is a universal desire to be healed. Better yet, we want to walk in health so we won’t need to be healed! It is no different in the religious world. A quick survey of religious broadcasting reveals numerous teachers preaching to packed arenas about divine healing. Prominent among such teaching is the idea that Jesus did not just pay for our spiritual healing on the cross, but that his suffering, specifically his stripes, paid for our physical healing as well. “Our healing has already been accomplished” they say. All we have to do is to have faith and not doubt, and receive the healing that is rightfully ours. But is this accurate teaching? Let’s see what the Bible says.

In the faith healing teaching, Isaiah 53 is a foundational passage. Let’s take a look at it and see if it is being properly applied or not.

But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:4, 5 NET)

On the face of it, there seem to be two very compelling statements here about healing. In verse 4, The Suffering Servant (Jesus) is said to have lifted up our illnesses and carried our pain. And if one goes with the assumption that this verse is talking exclusively about the crucifixion, it looks like a reasonable interpretation of the verse. Fortunately, this verse is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 8 verses 16-17, so we don’t have to guess at when this verse was fulfilled. Matthew records the following incident.

“When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” (Matthew 8:16, 17 NASB)

As anyone can see, this verse is not applied to all disease for all time being paid for at the cross. Through inspiration, the Apostle Matthew says that the miraculous ability Jesus had to heal the sick and drive out demons from those who were possessed was a sign that he was the Suffering Servant who would be our Messiah. In other words, they could recognize who Jesus was by his ability to heal the sick!

But what about Isaiah’s statement that by his wounds we have been healed? It is true that this portion of the verse could still be talking about our healing being paid for on the cross. True, that is, unless the New Testament apostles applied it to something else instead. Let’s see how this verse is applied by the Apostle Peter.

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:23-25 ESV)

At first this passage looks more promising because Peter is talking about what happened at the crucifixion of Jesus here. But again, how is the quote from Isaiah applied? To the bearing of our sins in his body on the cross, which would enable us to die to sin and live to righteousness (kind of sounds like baptism here). The result of this healing from the wounds he endured was verse 25. We are no longer like sheep who were astray, but have returned to God. His wounds purchased for us, not physical healing, but spiritual healing of our souls and our reconciliation to God! Once again, after careful examination, we find that the faith healers have misapplied this verse.

So can God heal today? According to Psalm 103, all healing of any kind is a gift from God. And surely God would not command us to pray for one another when we are sick if there were no benefit from it, or if said healing was not his will. In fact, during his earthly ministry, there is no record of Jesus ever declining to heal anyone who asked. But that was during his earthly ministry, and during the time of the apostles, who confirmed the validity of their message as being from God by signs and wonders (Hebrews 2:4) And one day, those of us who will spend eternity in his glorious presence will be freed from every disease and pain.
Until that time, enough of television and radio preachers who tell the sick that their healing is now, and they just have to receive it by faith. And if they are not healed, it is because they lacked that faith. To heap such guilt and condemnation on one who is suffering is beyond cruel, and only adds a deeper layer of suffering to the physical pain they are enduring. This is especially true of those who, like Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, tell desperate people that God is holding their healing but will pour it out upon them if they send in money.

No, the ultimate healing will take place in the dwelling place of God, not on this fallen earth.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4 ESV)

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20 ESV)

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