Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
Even after The Lord healed Paul from blindness while on his way to Damascus Paul still suffered from some form of “infirmity” that he apparently pleaded with God to take away from him on three occasions, and God told Paul “no.” We don’t know what exactly this infirmity was. Paul only tells us it’s an infirmity of the flesh…
Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. (Galatians 4:13)
The point here is to understand that at the end of the day our faith really has no bearing on whether we, or a loved one, or anyone for that fact is healed from any form of infirmity. We should always pray to God for healing, but we should never presume that He must. We should pray for healing because our Lord wants to see a show of faith on our part. Prayer doesn’t change God’s mind, prayer changes our mind. On too many occasions I have heard conversations and read commentaries that lead to… “the reason why he or she died from disease is because those who prayed did not have enough faith” or even going as far as presuming “the Christian died from disease because of their sin and lack of faith”. Can I first say this? WE ALL DIE UNDER THE BANNER OF SIN, BUT CHRIST DIED SO WE COULD DIE TO SIN DURING OUR LIFETIME. There is no way to obtain perfection this side of the veil because there is no way to circumvent the fact that we live in a fallen world and reside in fallen suits of flesh, but we can choose eternal life and a veil of righteousness by following The One to release us from the slavery of this world. It’s quite difficult for me to hear other brothers and sisters in Christ attempt to “measure” or “quantify” one’s faith in this manner. Frankly, in all honesty, it’s a disgusting display of scriptural perversion and a great example of how the evil one tries to infiltrate the mind and heart of a believer, but we know that this is not possible because Satan and demons cannot overcome a genuine follower of Christ. Yet, it still does not stop the Devil from trying.
If you and I begin to give in to this false gospel of “quantifying our level of faith” then we will head down an extremely dangerous road of backsliding that is defined as “the health and wealth prosperity gospel”. This “infirmity” has infected so many brothers and sisters in Christ today that we have entire congregations now that are built upon this “sandy” foundation. Does God desire to bless us financially? Yes. Does God desire to bless us with health? Yes. Do we have any control on how, how much, and when God will bless us? Yes and no. It is true we can put ourselves in a position to be open for God’s blessing and we can put ourselves in a position to not be open for God’s blessing, but do we ultimately have the ability to force or provoke God into a decision? ABSOLUTELY NOT! God’s plan and will is often times beyond anyone’s comprehension. We do not have the mind to reconcile why God blesses others in a certain manner and why he doesn’t bless others in the same manner, but yet many of us still try. We say to ourselves… “why don’t you bless me Lord with this or that, am I not faithful enough to you?” His original design was not for our brains to function in this fashion. Instead the world/Satan influences us to use our brains this way. I have personally experienced devout Christians suffer immensely and I’ve experienced seemingly backslidden Christians be incredibly blessed. We don’t know or understand why God does what He does a lot of the time, and we shouldn’t try to understand if it’s an utter mystery, because we are not God. This is an important proponent of faith.
…even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
God reveals the reason why he allowed Satan to torment Paul with a “thorn in the flesh”. It was so the highly educated, accomplished, decorated, and certainly qualified Paul would not get “puffed up” as he himself puts it. You and I, often times, are not as fortunate as Paul was to receive confirmation like this from our Lord regarding our potential future selves. The message Paul is trying to convey is that his suffering and weakness was allowed by God so our Lord could showcase His power and glory. Paul submitted by responding to God that he will use this infirmity as a strength so God is reflected through his suffering. The point here is not to submit to the suffering or disease to just lay down and stop fighting, but instead to submit and lay yourself down to the will of God so whatever outcome God has in store for you, your life will remain a reflection of our Savior.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
There are those who read this verse and see God promising physical healing. Here it is again in Isaiah…
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)
In many instances when biblical text is taken out of context the text will then become your text. This is the very DNA of “the health and wealth prosperity gospel”. Take a deeper look at both of these chapters these verses are from and in both instances these verses are speaking of salvation not physical healing.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)
There are those who read this verse and see God promising us the ability to “move mountains” based on our level of faith. Again, this is a great example of taking text out of context. Before Jesus says this to the disciples they attempted to cast out a demon from a boy and were not able to. Then Jesus intervenes and heals the boy. They wait until everyone is gone and they are alone with Jesus to ask him… “what gives? You gave us the authority to cast out demons so why were we not able to?” Our Lord then delivers the passage above. This portion of scripture directly speaks of the “quality” of faith rather than the “quantity” of faith. Christ is telling the disciples that believing in Him means depending on Him and His strength and not our own. Here’s what Jesus says to the disciples before telling them they can move mountains…
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. (Matthew 17:20)
Christ is telling the disciples that their faith is misguided by the flesh rather than telling them their “faith tank” is on empty. So no Christian, the passage does not refer to us having the power to move a mountain as a result of the level of our faith. Instead it means we can overcome any challenge or endure any season by relying on God’s strength even if that “reliance” on our part is as small as a mustard seed. You can see how the disciples were believing in “the health and wealth prosperity gospel” even then! They believed since Jesus had granted them authority that it was their authority to yield. Everything that happens in our lifetime is a result of God’s will and power, not ours.
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” (Mark 11:22-24)
The perversion of this passage above is directly responsible for Christians getting involved in “manifesting” anything they so desire into their lives through “positive thought techniques” such as believing what you want in your life as if it has already been given to you. Basically Jesus Christ is reduced down to a vending machine or a genie in a bottle. If this “manifestation” ability seems familiar it’s because this is the basis of what is referred to as “the law of attraction”. If you believe it, you will attract it, and manifest it into your life. You alone will summon God to give you anything you desire. I will tell you from personal experience that this “law of attraction” is very real and it can work. I know, because I was not saved for most of my life and heavily believed in this and practiced it. I even made teaching others the principles of this movement a part of my profession. However, now that I am saved, hear me when I say this…IT IS NOT OF CHRIST. It’s the evil one who says… “go ahead and eat that fruit. You won’t die, in fact, you’ll have God’s power.”
“Remember that your thoughts are the primary cause of everything.” – quote by Rhonda Byrne from her bestseller “The Secret”
“The Secret” took the world by storm upon its release, and preached its fundamentals on “the law of attraction” to millions desperately seeking a better life. It was overwhelmingly an overnight success. I, like many others, succumbed to this demonic teaching. It’s completely fine to ask God for something you want in your life. He wants us to, but it’s ultimately up to Him to give it to you if it’s in alignment with His will and plan. You do not have the final say unlike what “The Secret” is selling. Instead the passage from Mark above is a calling to move towards the will of God. Believe His strength is reflected by your life. Believe without doubt that He can do extraordinary things. In conclusion, our hope and joy shouldn’t lie in whether God blesses us or not. Our hope and joy should lie in the fact that He even allows us to ask Him for any blessings at all.
…thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…