The fall of humankind as told in the first stories of Scripture caused a breach between God and his creation. The stories of Genesis 1-11 tell of the continuing effects of sin as it gained avalanche proportions at Babel. Beginning at Genesis 11.27 and continuing through the rest of Scripture we have the story of God, broken into different stories, of Salvation History. This is the story of God’s movement in grace to redeem/heal his creation and bring to them a restoration of their spiritual life and their relationship with him. In the fall, Adam and Eve’s sin has caused a sickness of his or her spirit and from then sin flowed forward to all of humankind. For sin, God gave Jesus as a sacrifice so that in the acceptance of him our sins would be forgiven and our spirit brought back into contact with the Creator. Receiving his salvation brings healing to our spirit. An ongoing experience of his forgiveness keeps us in good spiritual health. Remember, when healing of the spirit takes place, all other areas of human life and personality are affected. The following are some models that foreshadow God’s redemptive plan. We have selected two stories from the First Testament and two stories from the Second Testament.
Adam and Eve: Genesis 3.1-24
In this story, the storyteller shares about the spiritual health of this first couple. In the garden that God had created for them, they lived in spiritual health communicating with God daily. Together, this couple was tempted and chose to disobey God (Gen. 3.7-8). This disobedience (sin) broke their relationship with God and brought about an awareness that they were out of step with God. Hiding was their way of staying clear of God’s presence (Gen. 3.8). God lovingly confronted them with their sin and called them to account. They shifted the blame to someone else and did not take responsibility for what they had personally done. Sin affected their life and their environment changed. We can note in this story that their relationship with God was broken by their disobedience. Confrontation by God called for the disobedient one to take responsibility not to shift blame. When we choose to break our relationship with God, spiritual sickness is the result.
Adam and Eve and the fall of humankind are virtually not talked about after Genesis 3 in the First Testament. When the prophets want to talk about disobedience, they use examples like Sodom and Gomorrah rather than Adam and Eve. We must await the writings of Paul in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 to discuss Adam and the meaning of the fall. In Romans 5.12-21, we have the foundational writing by Paul for the teaching about original sin. Paul affirms that sin is in the world because of Adam, and by extension Eve, and their sin and that we are all sinners because of their disobedience. Paul traces the source of sin to Adam. Paul believed in original sin in the sense that, because of Adam’s sin, all men and women are sinners (1 Cor. 15.21). Just Adam and Eve are archetypical metaphors for the mechanics of the Judeo/Christian cosmology, so too, the fall of Adam and Eve, from its pristine nature, of the original universe.[ref] John D. Brey. Tautological Oxymorons: Deconstructing Scientific Materialism: An Onto-Theological Approach. iUniverse, 202. [/ref] I discuss this whole story in my book God’s EPIC Aventure in “Act 2: From Dependence to Independence.” 97-124. Paul expresses a common First Testament belief in human solidarity that very much differs from our modern concept of individualism. The entire race is one in Adam. His sin and death is our sin is death as well as the sin and death for the whole human race (Rom. 5.12). Conclusion: so humankind are sinners, not because they do sinful acts; they are sinners because of Adam. Paul balanced this concept by saying that by one human’s obedience, that is Christ, many will be made righteous. Humankind is not righteous because of righteous deeds; they are righteous because of Christ. This does not take away the responsibility of the individuals for their sin or for his need to come to Christ for the forgiveness of their sin(s). Our responsibility is not to follow in the path of Adam but in the path of Christ.
David: 2 Samuel 11.1-27; 12.1-20; Psalms 32.1-7; 51.1-19
Part of the life of the king of Israel was going to war to defend the land that God had given. Instead, we find David sending others while he stayed at home where he was tempted with sexual desires for another man’s wife. His sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11.3) resulted in a pregnancy that David tried to cover up by bringing the husband of Bathsheba home for respite from the war to make it appear that the husband was the father (2 Kings 11.6-13). When that didn’t work, David turned to murder (2 Kings 11.14-16). God confronted David through the court prophet Nathan (12.1-7). David responded with confession and repentance as we can see from Psalm 51. God forgave him and sent healing to his spiritual condition which affected other parts of his life as well (Psalm 51.8, 13).
Man With Palsy: Mark 2.1-12
In this story told by Mark, one evening in Capernaum four men brought a friend to a very crowded house so that Jesus could pray for his physical illness. Because there was no room to get access to Jesus, they took the man to the roof and dug through it to lower the man into the presence of Jesus. To everyone’s astonishment, Jesus spoke to the sins of the man instead of the apparent illness of the man. He forgave the man his sins, then healed him of his illness. Clearly from this passage, Jesus saw a sickness of the man’s spirit that may have been standing in his way of getting healed. We must pause to say that we are interconnected and often outward sickness may be connected to some other aspect of our human makeup. When we pray for a headache, it may be caused by some other condition, like stress. Praying for the stress to be broken or confronted may take care of the headache that was only a symptom of something else at work.
Sinful Woman: Luke 7.36-50
The woman that Luke pictures in this story was a prostitute. Others knew she was a sinner (Luke 7.39). It was usual for a guest to have their feet washed after traveling the dusty and sometimes muddy roads of the day. This woman learned that Jesus was eating. Being present was not unusual, for anyone in a community could stop by and listen to the conversation when a rabbi was a guest at someone’s house. Her tears (of repentance) cover the feet of Jesus and she wiped them with her hair and poured perfume, at great expense to her, on his feet. The response of Jesus to this event was to forgive her of her sins. He brought spiritual wholeness to spiritual brokenness.
New Life In Christ: The Result Of Spiritual Healing
Salvation brings new life to our fallen and broken spirit. We become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5.17). Salvation is explained by many different metaphors in the Second Testament. Clearly, spiritual sickness often causes other areas of our lives to suffer. When we are out of relationship with God, other areas will suffer. We are not saying that all sickness is because of spiritual sickness, only that we must be aware that sometimes this is the case and pray accordingly.
Spiritual illness can be dealt with by confession of sin, appropriate acts of repentance (restitution), and receiving God’s forgiveness. Relationship with God and its restoration should be a primary concern of those who are praying for the sick and those who are being prayed for on behalf of their sickness.
Community Discussion Questions
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- Is spiritual sickness still occurring in your life?
- How do things change when spiritual sickness is dealt with through confession of sin?
- Share with someone else about what you are learning about spiritual sickness.
- Confess your sins so that you may receive healing for your own spiritual sickness.