TO CHEW ON: "'Which is easier to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven you," or to say "Arise, take up your bed and walk?"
'But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'—He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house.'" Mark 2:9-11
Was Jesus, in this healing, dealing with two separate issues: 1) the man's guilt and sinfulness, and 2) his physical paralysis? Or were they linked? In other words, is personal sin implicated in our physical illnesses?
A brief study of some Bible passages shows us that the two are mentioned together more than just this once.
- Ananias and Sapphira experienced the ultimate end of sin's physical effects (death) when they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10).
- Paul pronounced blindness on the sorcerer Bar Jesus (Elymas) when he tried to dissuade the proconsul Sergius Paulus from putting his faith in Christ (Acts 13:11-12).
- Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, links physical sickness and death within the church to taking the Lord's Supper flippantly (1 Corinthians 11:29,30).
- James reassures those who are sick that the "prayer of faith" prayed over them by church elders will not only bring physical healing but forgiveness of sins too (James 5:14-16).
Though I would never say that all our sicknesses are a direct result of personal sin, neither can we ignore the connection. Matthew Henry says of the two in his comment on our passage:
"Sin is the cause of all our pains and sicknesses. The way to remove the effect, is to take away the cause. Pardon of sin strikes at the root of all diseases. Christ proved his power to forgive sin, by showing his power to cure the man sick of the palsy. And his curing diseases was a figure of his pardoning sin, for sin is the disease of the soul; when it is pardoned, it is healed" Matthew Henry's Commentary.
As we pray for healing for ourselves and others, let's not forget to examine our lives for causative sin in the light of God's word and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to live transparently before You. Please convict me of sin which always has the potential to lead to physical repercussions. Amen.
MORE: Breaking it down
The temptation is to stay in the realm of theory when connecting sin and sickness. But a little brainstorming leads to a list of sins and their physical effects that we may find ourselves guilty of. I'm sure you can think of more.
- Sins of unbelief, unforgiveness, pride etc. can lead to emotional and mental dis-ease.
- Sins of sensuousness and indulgence can lead to obesity, drunkenness, addictions, and their complications.
- The sin of sexual looseness can lead to STDs.
- The sin of anger can lead to impaired judgment resulting in fights and accidents.