Guilt is able to be pardoned and atoned for. False guilt is another matter. It is that emotion of being told you have failed in some area over which you had no control. It is seen in some children of divorced parents. They have a sense of guilt that they caused the problem. This is so untrue, yet when believed has tragic consequences, for they are haunted by such ‘ghosts’ most of their lives. Because there is nothing tangible to seek forgiveness about or make atonement over it cannot be remedied, Well, almost nothing. Knowing and taking to heart the truth that they are not to blame can evaporate the ‘ghosts’ over time.
This also applies to sickness and healing. A false viewpoint by a person as to why he or she hasn’t been healed can strangle a Christian’s spirituality. They try and mask it in many ways with church attendance, prayer and good works. Still, their doctrine haunts and the Devil sprays his doubts about as to their spirituality.
Peter, in his first letter says, ‘Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from our sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Peter 2:24). This verse is used by certain groups to insist followers of Christ should not be sick or infirm. The reason for such conditions is placed strictly down to the individual’s lack of faith. What does such a doctrine produce? False guilt! What effects does it have? A loss of Joy, thinking of oneself as being second rate and trying all types of spiritual exercises to manufacture ‘faith.’
How then can this be remedied? Being a doctrinal matter it can only really be corrected by a proper understanding of the doctrine of healing. This has been the motivation and background to the previous studies. As the verse in Peter is used to promote all-inclusive healing (body, soul and spirit) we must examine it. What does he mean by healing? Can it be understood by the word ‘righteousness’ in verse 24 and in verse 25 ‘astray’ and ‘returned.’ ‘For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.’ The Bible insists that there is no one who is righteous, except Jesus the sinless one. It is by His achievements on the cross that Jesus dealt with our unrighteousness. Our going astray, wandering purposely or aimlessly in our own egos, made God irrelevant. That was until the Holy Spirit grabbed our attention and pointed us to the cross. Here began our return to the Sovereign Lord.
Both those verses by Peter are traced back to Isaiah chapter 53. If you have read the previous studies you will realise this is God’s specific answer to Isaiah chapter 1. There, the whole body, that is the Nation of Israel, is sick, diseased, terminal! God’s remedy? The suffering Servant which pointed to Jesus. The health there mentioned is to national redemption, forgiveness, wholeness, refreshed covenant relationship and mission. It had no specific reference to individual ailments or infirmities.
Peter’s quoting of Isaiah 53 is particularly relevant when you realise the people to whom he was writing. They were Jewish believers in five countries of the nation’s Dispersion. It would appear Peter was explaining to these persecuted believers that they were in fact the first fruits of Isaiah’s prophecy to the Nation. Therefore rejoice despite being maligned, oppressed and rejected!
How then do we consider the indisputable fact of God’s acts of healing? Grace! He is the Sovereign Lord and His ways and purposes are higher, nobler and wiser than what we can conceive. There isn’t any reason why a sick person shouldn’t pray or be prayed for. The attitude that must underpin all prayer is the Gethsemane attitude, 'not my will but yours be done.’ This isn’t a cop-out. It is an act of faith in our Heavenly Father’s goodness, flavoured by a desire that regardless of personal healing or continued illness, infirmity or disability He will be honoured.
Only then will false guilt, brought on by a misunderstood or misapplied passage be ‘evaporated’ by the Truth of God’s word. Oh the joy of a conscience at peace and worship without doubt.
©Ray Hawkins Sept 2015.