“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)
There has been a great deal of misleading teaching, particularly within certain denominations, regarding health and healing for the believer. Proponents of the “Prosperity Gospel” teach that it is God’s will for every Christian to be completely free from all sickness and disease and that His Word guarantees Divine healing to any believer who will ask for it. In fact, many teach that the believer already possesses perfect health and simply needs to “increase their faith” in order for their perfect health to be manifested. Kenneth Copeland, a televangelist and popular pundit of Prosperity Theology has the following to say about “faith healing”:
“Since the days of the Old Testament, God has always wanted His people free from sickness and disease—cancer, arthritis, AIDS, heart trouble, even the common cold. And nothing more clearly reflects God’s will for our well-being than the earthly ministry of Jesus, who spent much of His time healing the sick…while it is important to realize that healing indeed belongs to you as a believer, it is just as important to know how to apply God’s Word to your life so you can activate that healing…when you need it.”
The idea seems to be that healing already “belongs to” every Christian, we just need to know what to do to activate that healing. Copeland proceeds to list several verses of Scripture on which to meditate in order to have a healing manifested (Click Here to view the webpage from which the preceding quotes are taken).
While the prosperity teachers can certainly cherry-pick a handful of Bible verses, take them from their context, and interpret them to imply a guarantee from God’s Word that the Lord is somehow “contractually obligated” to heal anyone who activates their healing, this is not the clear and contextual teaching of Scripture. A wonderful case in point is the 8th Chapter of Romans, the chapter that we have been considering these past few weeks which has more to say about the specific blessings and benefits of being in Jesus Christ than possibly any other single portion of the Bible. If God’s Word actually contained any real guarantee promising perfect health, wealth, and prosperity for the Christian, we would surely find at least some reference to it in this most remarkable chapter.
Yet we do not. What we do find is the statement that “we ourselves” (who specifically?) “which have the firstfruits of the Spirit” (this means real, genuine, faith-filled believers) “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23, emphasis added). Why would any Christian “groan” and wait for the “redemption of our body” if God has promised perfect health to every believer? If God’s will is to free us from even the “common cold”, then what have any of us to groan about?
Did Jesus heal sicknesses and disease during His earthly ministry? Yes. Does God still heal today? Absolutely. Does the Bible promise perfect health to every believer? No, it does not. The fact is that we groan in these bodies because perfect health is not something that we will indefinitely possess in this life. Our bodies have yet to be redeemed, even though our spirits have been. In this world, we will all get sick, we will get old, and we will die. Our bodies cannot and will not last forever until the Lord resurrects or changes them in the Age to come (Phil. 3:21, 1 Cor. 15).
We should pray for God’s healing touch whenever we become sick; but to suggest that God has guaranteed our healing is just not accurate. To claim that the believer already possesses perfect health is to claim something that the Bible never says. Instead, the testimony of Scripture, along with the testimony of the experiences of real life, show us in no uncertain terms that there are times when God heals, and times when He does not. He has reasons for the things He does which He has not revealed to us. What we do know is that everything He chooses for us is for our ultimate good — as we shall see in just a few short verses.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,