In my last post I pointed out that Christ's sacrifice pays the penalty for our sins so we can be healed physically and spiritually.
Mr. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God have taught, and the Church still teaches, that the beating and physical suffering Christ endured paid the penalty for our physical sins - our breaking of the laws of health - so we can be physically healed in this life of our physical diseases and injuries. This teaching is true.
But I believe it is equally true, and there is evidence in the Bible, that the beating and suffering Christ endured pays the penalty for our spiritual sins also so we can be spiritually healed of our evil nature and character. Yet, I do not recall ever hearing this in the Church of God. Perhaps some ministers have preached about this, but I haven't heard it. What I seem to be hearing is that the healing that Christ's sacrifice makes possible is physical healing only - not spiritual healing, not healing of our sick and sinful character.
Yet, we need to be healed spiritually as well as physically. Our character needs to be healed so we no longer have a sinful nature.
When we sin (and we all have sinned), we bring the death penalty upon ourselves. That death is the second death. Christ died to pay the death penalty for us so we can be forgiven and given eternal life. It is Christ's shed blood - his death - that reconciles us to God, removing the penalty of the second death. That part of Christ's sacrifice is represented by the wine we take at Passover, which represents His shed blood.
The unleavened bread represents Christ's broken body - the suffering he endured by being beaten and scourged. That pays the penalty of suffering for our violations of laws of health that result in sickness and disease, what the Church has labeled "physical sin". Christ paid the penalty of suffering for our violations of the laws of health so we do not have to continue to suffer with our physical diseases.
But we need to be healed spiritually also, and Christ's suffering pays the penalty of suffering for our spiritual sins.
Sin - spiritual sin - sins of hatred, contention, lying, rebellion against authority, selfishness, greed, lust, etc. - results in suffering. And if God spared us from the second death and gave us eternal life in His kingdom, but did nothing to heal and change our character, we would go on sinning for eternity bringing misery upon ourselves and others.
God has to clean up our character - heal us spiritually - before he can give us eternal life. Otherwise, eternal life would be a curse, not a blessing.
There are three penalties for spiritual and physical sins, and the sacrifice of Christ must pay the penalties for all three.
One, there is the spiritual penalty of eternal death, the second death. Christ paid that penalty by dying in our place. His death was the result of His shed blood and is represented by the Passover wine. Because Christ died in our place, we can be forgiven and God can give us eternal life.
Two, there is the spiritual penalty of damaged character, what we call human nature, and the suffering that comes as a result of spiritual sin. When we sin, we damage our character. Sin leads to more sin. We acquire a sinful character, and the more we sin, the more we have a tendency to sin. Sin becomes a habit of mind and spirit. That leads to more sin, and that sin leads to suffering, both for ourselves and those around us.
When Lucifer first sinned, something happened to his mind. It became twisted, evil. He became Satan the Devil, the enemy of God.
God says of Lucifer, now become Satan: "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:15). And then, "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor" (Ezekiel 28:17). Notice, Lucifer corrupted his wisdom because of his vanity over his beauty and splendor. His wisdom, his mind, became corrupted, twisted, evil.
Adam's mind also changed because of his sin. His sin of eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had a spiritual effect on him. His sin affected his mind. He began to acquire what we call human nature, which is really Satan's nature. His mind and spiritual condition were affected, and he developed a sinful nature - a mind and nature that had a tendency to sin.
Sin is a habit, and the more we sin the more we have a tendency to sin.
Our minds need to be healed of this damage to our character. This healing occurs through the power of God's Holy Spirit. God, with our cooperation and effort, builds His holy, righteous character in us. That is a spiritual healing, but it can occur only because Christ paid the penalty for us.
Three, there is a physical penalty for the physical sin of the violation of the laws of health - sickness and disease. Christ's suffering pays the penalty for our physical sins so we can be physically healed.
Is there evidence in the Bible for a connection between physical healing and spiritual healing? In other words, is there any evidence that "healing" in the Bible refers to spiritual healing as well as physical healing?
Last post I pointed out a possible connection.
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6).
This is a passage we are familiar with, and it establishes the principle that by Christ's stripes we are healed. This is often used to teach the doctrine of physical healing. But notice the context, because right after that, it says that we all like sheep have gone astray and turned, everyone, to his own way.
How have we gone astray? How have we turned to our own way? Just by eating pork? By not wearing a seat belt? By smoking?
Is this just talking about physical sin, the violations of the laws of health?
Have we not also gone astray by lying, lusting, coveting, breaking the Sabbath, worshipping idols, stealing, etc.? Have we not gone astray by our spiritual sins?
Notice this applies to everyone. Has everyone violated the laws of health? Maybe not, but everyone has sinned spiritually.
The context of going astray in a general sense, including spiritual and not just physical sins, with the statement that by Christ's stripes we are healed, helps to establish a connection between spiritual sins and healing - spiritual healing.
But here is another connection I did not include in my last post. I just noticed it a few hours ago.
"And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, 'Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard that, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance' " (Matthew 9:11-13).
In this passage, Christ connects the concept of sickness with being a sinner in need of repentance. It is an analogy. He is comparing the state of being a sinner with being physically sick. But it is not just an analogy. In a spiritual sense, those who are sinners in need of repentance are spiritually sick. They need spiritual healing. Christ's broken body represented by the symbol of unleavened bread and the suffering Christ endured pays the penalty of our suffering for our spiritual sins and enables us to be spiritually healed.
Has this been taught in the Church of God in modern times? I hope so. Probably it has, by someone. But not much, I think.
This Passover season many ministers and speakers in the Church will be speaking about the Passover symbols and what they represent. Articles will be written and published (or already have been), sermons and sermonettes will be given, Bible studies will be given, etc. There will be speaking at Passover services itself, either in person or recorded. I wonder how many speakers and writers will mention the aspect of Christ's broken body enabling our physical healing, yet totally ignore and say nothing about our need for spiritual healing. Yet, the spiritual healing is more important than our physical healing. Physical healing is for this life. Spiritual healing is for eternity.
I have heard one speaker, who is an advocate for the teachings of Mr. Armstrong, give a message in which he covers a lot of material about Passover, yet not only said nothing about spiritual healing, but did not even say anything about physical healing, which Mr. Armstrong I believe taught. Maybe he is trying to avoid controversy. Maybe he is not ready to take a stand one way or another.
I think someone should take a stand on this. Study the Bible about this. If I am right, teach it. If I am wrong, show me. But don't ignore the question. Ministers will probably have to deal with this sooner or later. It isn't going to go away.
I don't say that ministers should contradict their leaders and cause division over this. That is a judgment call any minister must make - is it important enough? But at least the top leaders of COG groups, who only answer to Christ, should carefully consider this and teach what they see is right in the Bible, and not just remain silent.
No doubt some members may ask their ministers questions about this. If you are a minister, how will you reply?