Friday, March 19, 2021

More Scriptural Support for Spiritual Healing

This is the fourth in a series of posts on spiritual healing made possible by the suffering of Christ as the result of His broken body, represented by the broken unleavened bread we take at Passover.

I never planned to make this subject into a long series of posts.   But I keep finding more passages in the Bible that support this apparent truth.  In reading the Bible for self-examination in preparation for Passover, I found this passage in the New Testament.

"For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 'Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth'; Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - By whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2:19-25).

Notice these points in the above passage.

1.  Christ suffered for us (verse 21).  This helps set the context, which is Christ suffering to pay the penalty for our sins.

2.  He bore our sins in His body (verse 24).  This refers to His suffering, not just His shed blood.  It is Passover wine that represents His shed blood, that is, His death.  But it is unleavened bread that represents His broken body and His suffering.

3.  Why did He suffer the pains of a broken body?  Verse 24 continues, "that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness".  He suffered a broken body, represented by the broken unleavened bread we eat at Passover, so we can die to sins and live for righteousness, or in other words, stop sinning.  Passover unleavened bread represents the suffering Christ endured so we can have the power to stop sinning and overcome our sins.  This power comes by the Holy Spirit.  But we are able to receive it because Christ suffered for us.

4.  This process is called "healing" in verse 24, "by whose stripes you were healed".  Is this talking about physical healing (removing diseases and effects of injuries to the physical body), or spiritual healing (healing of our sinful nature and character so we can have the righteous character of God).  Up to now, the context has been entirely spiritual - dying to sin and living for righteousness.  There has been no mention of physical sickness.  This seems to suggest that the healing referred to is spiritual healing - given power to die to sin and live for righteousness.  And as I have pointed out, verse 24 specifically states that Christ suffered so we could overcome our sins - die to sin and live for righteousness.  As I stated in previous posts, sin - spiritual sin - causes suffering just as surely as physical sin, the violation of the laws of health, causes disease.  That is one of the penalties of sin - suffering that comes as a result of sin.  Christ suffered to pay that penalty so we can be spiritually healed by the Holy Spirit and made so we no longer sin and so we can begin to live for righteousness.

But has the context here changed in the last part of verse 24?  Has it shifted to physical healing?

5.  Notice verse 25.  This is all because we have gone astray from God.  This is not just talking about physical violations of the laws of health.  This is a general statement about sin and includes spiritual sin - any sin.  This continues the context of the beginning of this passage, which is not talking about physical healing of our diseases.

6.  Verse 24 says Christ bore our sins in His body on the cross.  This statement that He "bore" our sins seems to refer to His suffering, not just His death.  He suffered to bear our sins in His body.  But what kind of sins?  Just physical sins, violations of health laws like eating pork or not wearing a seat belt?  Or spiritual sins also?  Notice the rest of the verse which tells us what kind of sins Peter is talking about.  We are to die to sins and live for righteousness.  Here, sin is contrasted with righteousness.  This is not talking about physical sin, but spiritual sin - the violation of the letter or spirit of the two great commandments and the ten commandments - the transgression of God's spiritual law.

This whole passage connects the concept of turning from sin and living for righteousness - developing God's holy righteous character by the power of God's Holy Spirit - with the term "healing".  We are healed by Christ's stripes, the beading He endured and the suffering He endured both from the sourging and from hanging on the cross, and that healing includes spiritual healing.

Why is this important?, some might ask.

I might also ask, why is the understanding that Christ's body was broken for our physical healing important?  Is that important?  Yes, but why?

God wants us to understand that physical sickness comes as a result of broken health laws, what Mr. Armstrong and the Church of God have called physical sin.  He wants us to know that Christ suffered so we can be physically healed of our sicknesses.  He wants us to know this so we can appreciate Christ's love and the Father's love for us that Christ was willing to suffer so we can be physically healed.  He wants us to give thanks for it.

Likewise, I believe God and Christ want us to understand that Christ suffered so we can also be spiritually healed.  God wants us to understand that sin - the violation of the spiritual law of God - leads to suffering and to more sin - a sinful nature.  That sinful nature leads to more sin and more suffering in an endless cycle of sin and suffering.  The suffering that comes from sin is a penalty of sin, just as death is a penalty of sin.  Christ shed blood pays the death penalty for our sins so we don't have to die the second death, but the suffering He endured in the scourging and on the cross - His broken body represented by the Passover unleavened bread - pays the penalty of suffering our sins bring so we can be spiritually healed.  We can be healed of our sinful nature that leads to suffering and more sin and more suffering.  We can overcome our sinful nature by the power of God's Holy Spirit.  We can stop sinning and no longer have to suffer because of ongoing sins.  We can develop and build God's holy, righteous character which leads to happiness and joy.  We can do these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.  But the gift of the Holy Spirit is made possible by the suffering of Christ which pays the penalty for our sins.  Otherwise, the penalty of sin and suffering would remain upon us and we would have no hope.

I believe God wants us to understand these things and appreciate the gift of God and the suffering Christ endured to make that gift possible.

When we ask God in prayer for His Holy Spirit and for more power to overcome our sins, we should also give Him thanks for the suffering of Christ that makes it possible.

That is why it is important to understand that the suffering of Christ enables our spiritual healing and not just our physical healing.

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