Its pretty clear when you consider certain Scriptures that God wants us well. Healing is part of one of God’s own names (Exodus 15:26), and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus consistently showed God’s mercy and compassion by healing all who came to Him with even a little faith, and the apostles and early church continued this ministry. The prophet Isaiah talked about Jesus bearing our sicknesses and carrying our diseases in his substitutionary atonement for us, and that with his stripes we are healed (see Isaiah 53:4,5). This makes healing part of our salvation purchased at the cross. It makes sense because the words for salvation and healing are the same in the New Testament. David said that the Lord “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3) while John wrote that “I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). James promised in the case of sick people “the prayer of faith will heal the sick” while Jesus promised that in His name, believers “shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18). Jesus said that we could speak to any mountain (including sickness) and it will move if we don’t doubt. Peter identified sickness clearly as the work of the devil in Acts 10:38, while John said that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Taken together, these and other Scriptures make it pretty clear that God wants people well. We have already dealt with the objection that the fact that people don’t get healed after prayer proves that it is not God’s will to heal in every case. But if all this be so, why do so many still fail to receive healing, even amongst those who seek it through Jesus Christ. There are answers to this question. When we consider them all, it is remarkable that so many do receive healing at all!
In another article we considered some of the traditions of men that have formed a powerful barrier to the development of faith for healing. This is the major reason why divine healing is not universally practiced and received in the Christian church. We will now consider other reasons people are not healed
Insufficient Instruction – ignorance concerning the healing power of the Gospel
There are plenty of Scriptures which show that healing has been purchased for us as part of our redemption. But if these Scriptures are not preached or meditated upon, they will not produce the faith that moves the heart of God to divinely heal those in need.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17). So if people aren’t hearing the Word about healing, or are hearing something that leaves them unsure if God wants to heal them, there won’t be any faith for healing. There will only be doubt, unbelief or confusion. God has not promised to respond to prayers where the heart is full of doubt and uncertainty. To overcome this, people need to hear the promises of the Word of God, preferably from someone who actually believes they are true, relevant and up-to-date. Faith is best imparted by the ministry of those who themselves are full of faith. There is such a thing as the “spirit of faith”, which believes something, and so talks about it (2 Corinthians 4:13).
When people are not sure if God wills to heal them, they cannot ask with what the Bible calls faith. Faith is being sure of something hoped for (Hebrews 11:1), but if you are not sure if God really wants to do it, you can’t be sure that you will obtain what you ask. That isn’t faith. Jesus told us to believe that we receive what we ask for in prayer (Mark 11:24). He never promised to answer prayers we offer in a spirit of uncertainty and wishful hoping. He expects us to actually believe the promises.
People get saved when they hear the gospel and understand God wants to save them. Without this conviction of God’s willingness to save and forgive them personally, people remain unsure that God will save them – and they don’t get saved. The same principle applies to divine healing. If people don’t get the message that God really wants them better, if they feel somehow that they must pay the consequences of their own sin in the form of suffering with sickness, or if they are left with the impression that God will heal some, but not all, they cannot have steadfast faith for their own healing. God may heal them through the gifts of the Spirit in spite of this uncertainty, but many in this condition remain unhealed. Some who are touched by the power of God and receive a measure of healing, later lose it because they do not know how to resist the satanic spirits of infirmity and unbelief that come against them after they receive a healing touch.
Neglect of this Ministry by the Church
Jesus said that believers would lay hands on the sick and they would recover, and that the prayer of faith by the elders would heal the bedridden sufferer, but the church is still often neglecting these promises and instructions. A lot of stuff might be happening in the church life, but unless the church applies itself to actually going for results in the area of divine healing, and telling people what God’s Word says about healing as a covenant blessing of God, a lot of people are going to miss out. The example of others in the church who have failed to receive often discourages those who are currently challenged in their health. Instead of taking it lying down, the church should militantly pray, fast if necessary, seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, and give attention to the preaching of those truths which are calculated to produce faith for healing. Then action needs to be taken in line with a belief that God is serious about doing His part when we do ours.
Neglect of the Holy Spirit and the Fullness of the Spirit
Unless the church is serious about getting filled with the Holy Spirit and staying that way, the church will consistently fall short of God’s intentions with respect to divine healing. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that divine healing takes place – therefore the Holy Spirit must be honored and followed if we really want His power to be manifested according to the Word of God.
In his home town of Nazareth, Jesus could not do any mighty miracles, because of the peoples’ unbelief. Even Jesus was hindered by community unbelief which prevented Him from moving strongly in the power of God. Nowadays the preaching of traditions and questionable interpretations of certain Scriptures has turned a lot of places into real Nazareths of unbelief, especially in the western world. Its easier to get results in divine healing in places where the gospel has not been preached than in places where traditional Christianity has been around for a while, often inoculating people against the power of God. Also, its often harder to get results in your own home town where people know and possibly despise you than it is in other countries and regions. That is one reason why it is good to go somewhere else to preach the gospel if the Lord sends you or gives you opportunity to do so. If this principle was true in the life of Jesus Christ, it certainly could be the same for us also at times.
If the consensus of religious opinion amongst Christians is against the expectation that God will move in divine healing, it is difficult to “buck the system” and get people to believe what you are preaching from the Word of God. Established ministries may find it threatening.
Trusting and Looking to Something Else
Multitudes are receiving healing in some of the poorer areas of the world such as Africa, India. Even in South and Central America, and parts of Asia divine healing is relatively commonplace. I have seen God do it more in these places. Some people ask, “Why does it always seem to happen there?” Actually it does happen in the West, but it happens less often for a variety of reasons. One is that people find it much easier to go straight to the doctor for help rather than to the Lord. They are not willing to invest as much time and money in seeking the Lord for healing as they would in a doctor. We think we can solve things with our social security systems and our money. And so when real trouble comes we are often still looking in vain to those sources which cannot bring a remedy, instead of looking to the Lord. People are content to accept the verdict of the doctor in so many cases – they do not seriously consider this: that one Word from God can make all the difference in the world.
I notice that in John 5:1-15 there were many people who were sick but only one man was healed. Everyone was so busy focusing on that pool with its supposed healing properties that they ignored the Author of life and healing Himself when He came into the place. Even the crippled man himself who was healed seemed more focused on the pool than on the Lord. It is like this in hospitals and places where people have their hope and faith in doctors more than anything else. You can’t always get people to consider the Lord.
When people have no other hope to cling onto, they are far more attentive to the promises of God with regard to divine healing. And it is quite possible that the Lord, being very good and compassionate, is especially interested in blessing the poor of this world. Many times they have stronger faith, because they are often not as distracted. Of course, this is not always the case. There are some rich people who are very focused on the Lord, and some poor people who are totally distracted and have no time for God. But more often than not it is the other way around.
Another thing is this: if Western churches want to see more of the miraculous, they should give more place to ministers who are experienced in this area, and give more time to them in their pulpits. I am amazed at how little this is done. I am not suggesting that miracle gifts should dominate the agenda of the church, but they have their place. The church leadership in the west has made it clear that they value entertainment more than the power of God. “Give the people what they want” is a ruling ministry philosophy today in many places. Musicians have become the chief ministers of the church in the west. There’s plenty of time for solo items from people of natural talent, and little time for prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in modern western Pentecostal churches. It is no wonder that there is so little demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power when it is most needed.
Improper Eating Habits
As Christians, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). This is one very excellent reason to care for them. Many in the west are addicted to junk food. Highly processed foods often contain too much salt, sugar and fat while denying the body essential nutrients. To make matters worse, many of the vitamins, minerals and other trace elements we need no longer exist in the same proportions in the vegetables coming on the market today. The soil has been depleted. The net result of this is that lots of people fill their bodies with inferior food leaving their bodies depleted and vulnerable to attack.
It has been shown that eating too much food is the root cause of much disease. This is especially so if it is the wrong kind of food. When people indulge in gluttony, not only do they grieve the Holy Spirit, who is the administrator of divine healing, but they allow toxins to accumulate in their body. The kidneys and liver cannot cope with all the toxins, so they build up. If people would fast regularly and eat well at other times, a lot of toxins would be eliminated and disease would be much rarer.
Moderate amounts of exercise is also important for health.
If people continue to violate these natural principles and grieve the Spirit of God, two things happen. One is that the body cannot cope with the toxins and something will eventually break down. The second thing is that the very act of grieving the Spirit of God in this way can be a barrier to divine healing. This barrier can be removed by a change of attitude, by repentance.
Even though God declared Himself as “the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26), it is in the context of listening to and obeying the voice of the Lord. There were many food laws given at that time which had a lot of value in terms of promoting health. We are not under strict food laws today but the principle of wise eating and taking care of our bodies still applies. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:30). The Holy Spirit bears witness to this both by His Word and by His anointing in our own lives. We are supposed to be in control of our own appetites.
Unbelief on the Part of the Minister
Some ministers of the gospel fail to prepare themselves for the serious responsibility of ministering to the sick and oppressed in the name of the Lord.This can easily come about simply by filling one’s schedule with project and appointments and cares of this life to the point where prayer gets squeezed out, and no time is taken to fast and meditate on the Word. Then, when a more challenging case of need is presented, such as a paralyzed person, not enough power is operating and the minister lacks the conviction that anything definite is going to happen.
Jesus rebuked his own disciples for their unbelief in the case of the epileptic boy (Matthew 17:14-22). He told them that that kind of demon only comes out through prayer and fasting. The disciples had obviously failed to do this, and so they were powerless when it came to the test. Their faith was deficient. Neither were they able to inspire faith in the heart of the boy’s father.
Some want to take the easy way out and say that in such cases it is just not God’s will for the person to be healed, at least at that time. The problem, however, is not with “God’s will”. Jesus showed it was God’s will by healing the epileptic boy on the spot. The problem is with our spiritual preparation. Having failed to pray and fast and consider as we should, we cannot operate in faith when people so desparately need us to bring the real compassion and ministry of Jesus to them.
God said “the prayer of faith” shall heal the sick (James 5:14,15). Ministers who do not understand the prayer of faith (see Mark 11:24) are a barrier to the divine healing of many.
Some Need Deliverance first Before they Can Be Healed
Many cases of sickness are due to the presence of an evil spirit which is destroying part of a person’s bodily function. The classic example of this in the Scripture was the blind and mute man whom Jesus healed in (Matthew 12:22). Even the Pharisees understood that Jesus healed this man by casting out demons. However, they said Jesus did it by the ruler of demons.
Unless a problem is caused by an accident, it is very likely that some kind of spirit of infirmity is involved in a person’s physical affliction. You can command such spirits to leave. Just believe that they do when you give the command. Such spirits cannot continue to resist a word spoken in faith by a spirit-empowered person.
When the symptons of disease go after prayer and return some short time later, it is almost always the work of an evil spirit. Matthew 12:43-45 reveals that unclean spirits do seek to return. Some spirits are driven away by the touch of the anointing, and this causes relief. If the person so cured is not vigilant, does not seek God for the Holy Spirit, or does not learn how to use faith to rebuke the evil spirit, it is possible that the evil spirit will return and the person will be worse off than before – additional unbelief and confusion will be present. When faced with returning symptons, we should without hesitation command the evil spirit to leave. We may also confess the Word of God, for example, “Jesus took my sicknesses and carried my pains, and by His Stripes I am healed” (Isaiah 53:4,5). But the main thing is to command the spirit to leave.
Understanding deliverance ministry is actually an important key to receiving and ministering healing in Jesus’ name. A lot of the barriers to divine healing are constructed in one way or another by the work of evil spirits. For example, the mindsets which oppose divine healing are promoted and defended by evil spirits.
Some Are Holding onto Sin and So Are Not Healed
“He who covereth His Sin shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13).
Since healing is a mercy, and since it is an expression of the Kingdom of God, it is unreasonable to for a person to wilfully hold onto sin and expect to be healed by God’s power. We ought to learn to say with David, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”(Psalm 66:18)
When the Kingdom of God comes to our bodies, we are healed. When we resist the Kingdom of God, and resist the Holy Spirit, by impenitence, we may miss out on many blessings.
Any sin can be a barrier to God, but the chief enemies of divine healing are unforgiveness towards others, and unbelief concerning the Word of God.
God may permit sickness to remain on people who are Outside His Perfect Will
Another barrier is disobedience to the call of God. I have known a minister to be healed immediately when he began preaching the gospel publicly. If people are called by God to serve Him, and they know it, should God heal them so they can watch the offerings of television in greater comfort? Sometimes, God permits sickness to afflict a person until they will get themselves into the very centre of God’s will. Some people, while comfortable, are not sufficiently motivated to align their lives with God’s plan for them.
General Church Lukewarmness
Lukewarmness occurs when people are not totally cold towards the things of God, but neither are they “hot”. They are not “on fire” about the things of God. Perhaps they mix a bit of the fire with a bit of coldness, and the result is lukewarmness.
The sin of lukewarmness is a barrier to healing. This sin is common today, and God finds it repulsive. So much so that He promises to spew the lukewarm out of His mouth. God said in Psalm 91, “Because He has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver Him”. People whose love is set on the world are grieving the Holy Spirit. They are not applying their hearts diligently to the Word of God, nor are they full of the Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder then, that they receive no divine healing?
If the church in general is lukewarm, it is to be expected that seekers after divine healing will have to face the discouragement of hearing faith destroying remarks from possibly well-meaing church members who think according to the natural mind and not according to the mind of the Spirit. Gentle words discouraging faith in God, such as exhortations just to accept the situation as it is, can come from people who are lukewarm and just trying to be nice people.
Jesus taught that we cannot receive God’s forgiveness while we hold onto unforgiveness against others for any reason (Mark 11:25; Matthew 6:14,15; Matthew 18:35). God Himself will hand us over to tormentors if we do not forgive our brethren from our heart, according to Matthew 18:35.
Unforgiveness blocks the flow of God’s mercy, and it prevents the operation of real faith from the heart. That is why Jesus taught on the need to practice forgiveness just after giving us those wonderful words on faith and the prayer of faith.
Those who have wronged their neighbour in any way must ask his forgiveness. Many who were terribly afflicted were healed as soon as this was done.
No Purpose or Diligence to Seek Divine Healing
The faith that pleases God involves a belief that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God will make it worth their while. This is not the same as “que sera sera” – whatever will be, will be. No, some things don’t happen because people don’t seek God for them.
It is amazing how some Christians will spend tens of thousands of dollars to obtain healing through the medical profession, but do not consider it worthwhile investing some serious time pursuing divine healing by developing their faith. People who invest their time to develop their relationship with God end up spiritually richer and have the potential to receive physical and other benefits from the hand of God as well. But people who only invest their money in attempts by modern medicine to restore their health are denying God the opportunity of receiving the glory that would come to Him. And that money spent on medicine could be better spent telling those who never heard the gospel how they can get out of the devil’s kingdom into the Kingdom of God.
Some People Give Up when they are Not Instantly Healed
Not every healing is instantaneous. When prayer is offered in faith, and hands are layed on, or the Word of God is received, we should consider it to be like a shot of very powerful divine medicine. The Holy Spirit goes in and begins a work. God has “sent His word” and it can be expected to “heal them” (Psalm 107:20). If the healing is not manifested 5 seconds or 5 minutes later we should not consider that the divine medicine is of no value. No, we wait patiently and confidently – regarding the matter as settled – because we trust God and His divine medicine to work in our bodies.
Sometimes, especially in the context of evangelistic outreaches, healings will manifest immediately as a sign to the people of the power of God. Not all healings manifest as miracles. Even if the ministry of Jesus, who had unlimited anointing as far as we know, there was a case of a blind man who, after ministry, could only see men as “trees walking”. Further ministry perfected the healing. Therefore, not all healings are instantaneous miracles.
The problem occurs when people, not realizing this, cast away their confidence if they observe that they feel the same immediately after prayer ministry. Perhaps the devil whispers that nothing happened. At such times, if our faith is based on the Word of God, if our confidence is not based on what we experience but on what God says, then our experience will come into line with the Word of God. Its important not to adopt a skeptical or doubting approach, not expecting healing if it does not manifest immediately. Instead we should begin to act our faith in some way, even if it is simply through expressing thanks to God for it.
Some Get Weak in Faith because they Watch their Symptoms
Symptoms point to a problem, but the Word of God points to a solution. When people consider the testimony of their symptoms as proof that nothing is happening, it shows that there really isn’t any kind of trust or confidence in what the Word of God has to say on the subject. God expects believers to believe, even in the face of negative circumstances and painful distractions.
God promises healing to the flesh of those who steadfastly look to the Word of God (Proverbs 4:20-22). It is impossible to be occupied with our pains and symptoms while being occupied with the Word of God. It has to be one or the other.
Some Don’t Act their Faith and So Don’t Receive
When ministering divine healing I generally instruct people to act on their faith before they have had a chance to doubt God. If people had back problems, I encourage them to move their back, or try to touch their toes. If people had knee pain I encourage them to lift their legs. Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. It was only after acting His faith that the man received healing.
Faith without corresponding actions is dead (James 2:17). Not all works are of faith, but real faith results in works – actions – which correspond to that faith. God wants us to think, speak and act faith. We need to attend to the Word of God until we do believe from our heart that God is doing it – then we act.
Others When Tested, Cast Away Their Confidence
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What people say reveals how people believe. It is no good saying that you have faith and at the same time saying that you don’t think its God’s will for you to be healed. How can you be confident that the Lord will do a certain thing for you and at the same time be unsure as to God’s will? Remember that “faith is the substance of THINGS HOPED FOR” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is not just a general trust that God will do whatever seems best to Him. Rather, God expects us to hear His Word, believe His promise, and keep believing it with our hearts, our mouths and our actions no matter what actually happens.
Sometimes tests come. A person who at first committed themselves to Jesus as healer and who began to believe, may encounter severe trials. Things may appear to get worse, and the pain may be terrible. Together with the pain, Satan will often test a person with doubts concerning the truths of divine healing and the principles of faith. God says, “Whatsoever you desire [including healing] when you pray, believe that you HAVE RECEIVED IT” and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). Faith says, “It is a done deal.” But when the senses scream with pain, the choice must be made to defer to God’s Word more than the evidence of what the body is saying.
This may seem ridiculous and foolish to a western mind trained in the scientific method. The scientific method says, “Let’s do an experiment and observe what happens. On the basis of what we observe, we will reject certain ideas which don’t fit and construct hypotheses and theories which fit”. God however operates in the spiritual realm, in which realities are established through Words before they are manifested to the five senses. And as “imitators of God”, we are called to learn to operate in the same principles. We serve a God who “calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). Faith declares a thing before there is any outward evidence that it is true. The only evidence is a God given conviction concerning a thing. This conviction can come from the Word of God, or by a direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. In the case of divine healing, all we really need is a heart that can take hold of the Scriptural promises and claim them as our own.
If the Word of God is the reason for our confidence, then it is never right to throw away our confidence in it. Through faith and patience we inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12).
Some, not understanding this, or yielding to the voice of doubt, become unsure of things. What is in the heart will be spoken, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart”, said Jesus (Matthew 15:18). When people voice doubts, it is an evidence that the heart does not have the “full assurance of faith” concerning the thing desired. This is not to say a person does not have real faith in another area, such as the saving faith necessary for justification. However, the declarations of our mouth affect the spiritual atmosphere in which we live. We attract the kind of spirit according to which we speak. Just as speaking the Word of God reinforces a spirit of faith, so speaking words of doubt or natural reasoning reinforces a spirit of doubt.
Proverbs 6:2 says, “You are snared by the words of your mouth”. This principle applies to more than just going guarantor for someone else’s loan. Proverbs 18:21 says that “Death and life is in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. There is a power for good or for evil that is released through our words. That is why we must not give up confidence in the Lord’s promises during the tests, which do come to sincere believing people. Not every healing is a miracle and “trials of our faith” are permitted, with the purpose that our faith be purified and ultimately prove itself victorious.
Some Fail to Receive because they Neglect to Receive the Holy Spirit
If a person knows that God wants them to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and yet neglects this awesome promise, they are not giving the Holy Spirit proper respect. Since the Holy Spirit is the administrator of God’s treasury of spiritual blessings purchased for us by the blood of Jesus, we do not do well if we treat Him with indifference.
The Holy Spirit is a healing Spirit. He “gives life to our mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11). It is not saying here only that He gives life to our “dead bodies” after they have decomposed in the grace, at the resurrection. Rather, he gives life to our mortal bodies – our bodies which are still subject to death. The fullness of the Spirit is the condition for God’s perfect working.
Substituting the belief in the doctrine of Divine Healing for Personal Faith to Be Healed
This is a very subtle trap. Our minds can be convinced of the truth of a doctrine, while our hearts are unmoved. But it is with the heart that man believes (Romans 10:10). The heart could be bound with unforgiveness or idolatry, while the mind gives full assent to the doctrine. God wants the heart, as well as the mind. Repentance, as well as deep meditation on the Word of God can bring truth from the head to the heart.
Failure to Take the Written Promise of God as a Personal Promise
When our hearts are simple, and ready to receive the Word of God, we will take its promises for us personally. To faith, the Word of God is the voice of God. God has magnified His Word above even His name (Psalm 138:2).
Refusal to Believe Prayer has Been Heard before Experiencing and Seeing the Answer
This is the tendency of many westerners educated in philosophical empiricism. What I mean by that, is that we think we can only know something is real after we have experienced it.
Mark 11:24 says, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them”. This means, we are to believe we receive the things at the time we pray for them. It is as if we receive a spiritual cheque (check) from God telling us “granted!”. The cheque is cashed at a later time but when we have REAL faith for it, we have a spiritual substance in our hearts, a guarantee that we got what we asked for. This is possible, even commanded. But we must have a forgiving heart in order to be able to operate in this kind of faith. A hardened heart finds it difficult, if not impossible, to believe the promises of God.
God has not promises that our healing will begin to manifest before we believe that God has heard and we have received. Some are waiting for God to move first, before they believe God is working in their case. In this way, they never receive.
Once we have prayed, or received ministry in faith, or commanded disease to leave us, we should actually begin to thank God for the answer, even before it manifests. That is a proper expression of faith.
Basing Belief on Improvements Rather than on the Word of God
We may be encouraged by the results of the immediate application of the power of God to our bodies, but the best reason for faith should be what God said in His word. Faith that is primarily supported by results obtained to date is more susceptible to failure during times of testing.
Confusing Hope with Faith
Some people merely wish to be healed, but have no certainty in the matter. This is not faith. Some go further and say, “I KNOW I will be healed.” This positive expectation of good based on the Word of God is a good thing. It is known as hope, and it protects our minds. However, biblical hope alone is not the same as faith. Faith is more than a knowledge of a future event. Faith believes that it receives now. We need to be honest about this if we have biblical hope but no present assurance that “it is now done”. Continued exposure to the Word of God and the presence of Jesus will do us good. It is good to say, “God is healing me now”. Yes, legally you were healed at the cross, but God is working healing in you now. When your heart is fully convinced, you will think it, talk it, and act it. That is when things really happen.
Selfish Attitudes – Self-Pity, the Desire for Sympathy and Attention, Resentment against God
Some like the attention they get being sick, and prefer being waited on hand and foot than being responsible for their own lives. Others pity themselves, and derive a strange comfort from this. Some pride themselves on being difficult cases that resist the prayers of faith of great healing evangelists. There can even be a desire to dishonor God because God has not performed healing for them, though few would admit it. Such attitudes are selfish and work against the desire to be healed. They kill hope, and faith cannot exist where even hope is not present.
A Works Mentality
While there are actions that correspond to faith, they have nothing to do with “earning merit” before God. If God says, “Rise up and walk” to a paralyzed man, the implication is that the paralyzed man must use his will and attempt to exert his muscles. Often as a person seeks to do what was previously difficult, the healing manifests immediately. Such actions correspond to faith, but they have nothing to do with earning merit before God, so as to somehow be “worthy” of healing.
Some people believe that by doing many good things they will make God more willing to bless them. It could be church attendance, Bible study, acts of mercy or service. These things are all good when done in faith and love, but when they are used as a way of earning merit, and hope is placed in one’s merit rather than in the undeserved mercy of God flowing from Calvary, then the foundation is wrong.
I have witnessed the worst of sinners divinely healed in meetings I have conducted, while others who had been in church for years, and trusted that they were better than others, received nothing.
Obviously, if a person doesn’t believe for healing, they are unlikely to get it. God can and does act sovereignly, or on the basis of the minister’s faith alone. But God expects more from a believer. A believer is expected to believe God’s promises as they apply to their temporal situation, and not only as they apply to the issue of eternal destiny.
A person may believe many marvelous truths of the Scripture, but if they have been educated to doubt concerning divine healing, unbelief will be a barrier. Careful reconsideration is warranted.
I have found that many non Christians will be healed in a context of personal or mass evangelism with or without their faith. God wants to confirm His Word and His goodness with signs following (Mark 16:17-20).
A Critical Spirit
Criticism can easily be a form of pride in which one assumes the position of judge. The Pharisees were notoriously fault finding with Jesus. They criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath. On one occasion, the power of the Lord was present to heal the Pharisees and teachers of the law, but they got nothing (see Luke 5:17 KJV or NKJV – Textus Receptus).
Some people become so critical of flamboyant healing evangelists that they miss what God wants to do for them. The truth of God has is true no matter who proclaims it. But some people in their pride seek to justify their positions of unbelief by finding fault with those who teach divine healing. Those who wish to “shoot the messenger” of divine healing should not be surprised if they do not receive healing from God in their own times of need.
Looking to Men more than to God
Others fall to the opposite extreme, virtually idolizing men whom God has been pleased to use in divine healing. They put all their faith in the man of God. There are times when God wants us to look to Him alone. People who come to a man of God more than they come to God may be severely disappointed. God can and often does work when people believe that God will work through a man of God, but many miss the blessings when they forget the God of the Man of God.
It may take some time for people to deal with barriers to divine healing. It is chiefly a matter of heart preparation and education. No one should feel under pressure to frantically make changes, but should respond to the Spirit’s call for change as the Spirit gently leads. Faith is a rest. It is actually very easy when the heart is prepared. “The preparation of the heart”, however, “does belong to man.” According to the book of Proverbs. Instead of striving to “have faith” or trying to “prove” that we have faith, we need to listen to the Word and to the Holy Spirit, and allow Jesus to lead us into a wonderful adventure of divine healing by His loving touch.
I have read quite a number of books and listened to some tapes on divine healimg. I am especially indebted to the writings of F.F. Bosworth, a highly effective healing evangelist who ministered in the first few decades of the 20th century. His book, “Christ the Healer” is a classic on the subject of divine healing and deserves a wide readership.