Kingdom of God: A Reading Guide

Reading 11. Kingdom Power over Disease. Is Sickness A Work of Satan?

by DrWinn on January 3, 2017

Kingdom Introduction
Observing the Text!

An Assault on the Kingdom of Satan: The Scourging of the Enemy
The mindset of those living in the first century was that sickness was a work of Satan, a heavy weapon of his demonic force. Sickness and disease were ways in which Satan ruled the world. When Jesus healed those who were sick, he was in the act of pushing back the kingdom of Satan. In healing, Jesus not only attacked the demons, but he also attacked their work. He undid their damage.

Interpreting the Text!

The words disease and suffering in the following passages do not communicate the force of the original language.

    • For he had healed many so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him (Mark 3:10).
    • Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering (Mark 5:29).
    • He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).

The original word in these texts is martix, which is defined as a whip or a lash. It is the same word that Luke used in Acts 22.24, which is translated as scourging and flogging in  Hebrews 11.36. It appears that whip is closer to the meaning in these passages. The idea is that sickness can be viewed as being whipped by the enemy.

The whips, scourges, and lashes inflicted by the evil one were ordinary diseases, which the Western mindset often accepts as ordinary experiences such as fevers, cancers, and heart problems, Jesus considered the result of satanic oppression. Satan uses a spiritual whip to inflict pain on humans.

Sickness is not a part of the plan of God for his creation. Satan rules his captured realm by causing suffering and agony in the world. Jesus came to take the whip off the backs of those enslaved by Satan (Luke 7.21). Here are some illustrative stories from scripture.

The Crippled Woman: Luke 13.10-17
The mindset of the medical world is that sickness is always caused by physical factors. Jesus, however, ascribed sickness directly or indirectly to the perversity of Satan. He pointed to a little old lady, tied like a horseshoe for eighteen years, and claimed that her physical infirmity was caused by the power of Satan (Luke 13.16). One might want to note that Dr. Luke’s worldview was different from today’s medical worldview. (This is not an argument saying that the ancient world’s medicine was superior, only that one doctor saw sickness from a different perspective and recorded it as such.)The mindset of the medical world is that sickness is always caused by physical factors. Click To Tweet

We who are living with a Western mindset often see crippling diseases as the will of God in a person’s life; or that we will understand it better when we get to heaven. Western theology does not make room for satanic intervention in illness. This was not so with Jesus. On many occasions, he looked at a sick person and called his or her infirmity the work of the devil, not the will of God (Luke 13.11-16). This passage is loaded with profound theological significance. One might note that the woman had a spirit of infirmity. The doctor confirmed the idea that illness can be inflicted by a supernatural force. Luke equated this spirit of infirmity with Satan, the one who stood behind the twisting and binding.

Jesus attacked the demonic host when he healed this sick woman (Luke 13.13). Edward Langton believes that special demons came to be associated with particular forms of disease or sickness. Certain diseases were held to be caused by particular demons (Essentials of Demonology. 33).

Peter’s Mother-in-law: Luke 4.28-39
Jesus rebuked the fever when he healed Peter’s mother-in-law. He used the same language that he used on the demon,e which is recorded in Luke 13. Since words are clues to our thoughts, it is my considered conclusion that Jesus used the same word in addressing the fever that he did when addressing the demon because he saw a lethal unity between sickness and Satan. He spoke to the fever directly and told it to stop.

The Demonized Boy: Matthew 17.14
Matthew tied sickness and demons together in his story of the demonized boy. Mark only shared that the boy was demonized. Matthew added the information that the boy’s condition was epilepsy. Jesus rebuked the demon by attacking his works and the boy was cured.

Are You the One?
When John the Baptist received a report that Jesus was healing people, he sent his disciples to question Jesus. When his disciples found Jesus they asked, “Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?” Jesus responded to John’s disciples by “curing many who had diseases, sickness, and evil spirits” (Luke 7.18-21). In this verse the word sickness means lash or whip (see above). One should note that in this context the word is used with disease and evil spirits.

Later, when John was in prison, he sent word to Jesus asking for assurance that Jesus was indeed the one to bring the kingdom. Jesus replied to John by first performing a healing and then sending his disciples back with this word, “Go tell John what you have seen and heard” (John 7.22). Jesus summarized his ministry by talking about what had been seen, his works, and what had been heard, his words.

He told John that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news preached to them. What good news? Satan’s power was being broken by the ministry of Jesus. How do the poor know this message? The blind were being healed. The lame began to walk. The lepers were made clean. The deaf could hear. The dead were alive. The kingdom/rule of God was invading the kingdom of Satan. On should not here that the “good news” is not accepting Jesus into one’s heart by saying a prayer, but in realizing that Jesus was saying and doing the words and works of the kingdom.

The View from Today!
Today’s Westerners still have difficulty in believing that sickness can be a work of Satan. They rather see this belief as medieval, superstitious, and totally incredible in an enlightened age. The ancient world is seen as immature and adolescent in their belief that sickness could be caused by the demonic. For the Westerner to accept sickness as demonic is to have a primitive, animistic mindset. The Western medical community is persuaded that sickness is caused by viruses and germs, not demonic sickness. While it is certainly true that viruses and germs cause sickness, it is my contention that they are not the only cause. In the Western worldview, the belief that sickness can be the direct work of Satan is ridiculed, scorned, and rejected.

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me Tomorrow
What is the first thing we do when we get a headache or a fever? Do we pray or go to the medicine closet for two aspirin? If it is the latter, does it say that we do see sickness or disease as physical in origin and not theological?Today's Westerners still have difficulty in believing that sickness can be a work of Satan. Click To Tweet

It is not the point of this discussion to disdain medical technology or the medical practice of doctors. Every time we have a throbbing toothache we should not automatically cry that Satan is stabbing us in our molars. We can acknowledge the value of modern medicine and still have a biblical belief and practice that understands that Satan can be the cause of physical suffering.

Have we become so profound because we can isolate a death-dealing virus and give it a Greek or Latin name? A virus that destroys children, wipes away our hopes, and ravages our loved ones? There is an element of mysterious and malignant evil in sickness. When Jesus encountered it, he did not philosophize about it; he did not do a psychological study on it; he did not theologize about it; and he did not explain it in medical terms, anchent or modern. He simply healed the disease. Oh, to be like Jesus!

Living into the Text!

It is always important to live into what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.

  • How long since you took a spiritual whipping from the enemy? Did you see it as an assault on you? Why or why not?
  • How do you believe a disease is caused?
  • What do you think about the idea that your worldview may have caused you to view disease in a non-biblical way?
  • How does your worldview cause you to see or not see disease as a weapon of the enemy to defeat you?
  • In what way have you found yourself in the shoes of John the Baptist in his need to know if Jesus is really the one sent from God? When can you see the good news, or can you only speak the good news, or accept the good news?
  • In what way would you defend a belief that Satan may be at the root of some diseases?
  • Which do you do? Pray first, then seek medical attention or seek medical attention and then pray? What might this say about your theology?

The articles below come from various Bible Dictionaries and other sources. The posting of these brief articles are to introduce some readers to the vast amount of information that is provided to enhance your reading of the text of the Bible with a hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the text and will lead the reader to an improved praxis in his or her community of faith and personal life. You might read the articles offline in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try Revell Bible Dictionary. Revell Bible Dictionary is no longer in print but is available from Amazon. One of these should suit your personal needs.

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