by Sandra Conner
Once we are convinced that the Lord really wants us well, we naturally have questions when we see Christians who aren’t healed. “Why not?” we ask. “Why isn’t everyone healed every time?” Well, dear Christian, there are many reasons, but none of them on God’s account.
First of all, we need to establish in our hearts the truth that we cannot look at other people and their experiences of failure and make them our basis for faith. Any time a circumstance in the natural shows us something that is directly opposite to what Jesus continuously showed us in His living example of God’s will, we must assume that the natural circumstance is not God’s perfect will. Most all believers have prayed for someone who did not get well. The temptation at those times is often to condemn the sick one or ourselves. To be sure, we need to be humble enough to go to the Lord and His Word and allow Him to show us if there’s a hindrance we need to eliminate, but it is fruitless to continually beat ourselves down or to demand explanations from the Lord.
It isn’t always our business why someone else does or does not receive something from God. Our business is to know that God’s perfect will is healing and to act accordingly. Many times, we will just have to be satisfied with knowing what Jesus says about healing and looking only at Him. However, there are several common hindrances to receiving our healing from the Lord, and perhaps by looking at them scripturally, we can avoid them or learn how to overcome them.
One of the most important hindrances to our receiving anything from the Lord by faith is unforgiveness. In the world we live in, it is so easy to get into strife and conflict. People say and do things that hurt others, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes deliberately. Moreover, our enemy, Satan, will do his best to cause others, especially people we’re close to, to inflict wounds of various kinds in order to get us out of God’s will through negative reactions, and thereby hinder God’s work.
Needless to say, the subject of forgiveness is vast enough to fill a whole book all by itself, and obviously we will not even try to cover everything the Word says about it. However, we must settle it in our hearts that forgiveness of sin is the foundation from which all other blessings come to us from God. It is because we are forgiven that we can be healed. The sin that brought on the curse in the first place is put away, and then the curse itself can be eradicated.
When Jesus ministered to the paralytic in Matthew, chapter 9, He first told him to take courage because his sins were forgiven. When the scribes got upset, Jesus answered them in verses 5 and 6 by saying: “For which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’ But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, — then He said to the paralytic, ‘Rise. Take up your bed and go home.’”
You see, the scribes understood that, according to their covenant with God, they had to recognize a connection between man’s sinfulness and the curse, which included all diseases. They recognized that if the paralytic was healed, then that meant his sins had been forgiven. They knew that a sacrifice had to be made to atone for sin in order for the blessings of the covenant, including healing, to come to them. When Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice, His finished work brought freedom from sin as well as the curse for mankind.
However, Jesus is very specific about the fact that we must offer the same mercy and forgiveness to everyone in our life if we are to receive His. He says in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
When giving those wonderful instructions about how to operate mountain-moving faith in Mark 11, He says in verse 25 and 26:
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”
You see, Jesus died to purchase forgiveness for all mankind, and that means you and me. Let’s face it, no matter how strong a Christian home we were brought up in, or how young we were when we accepted Jesus as Lord, we were all born in sin, and unless He had died to provide mercy for us, we would have spent eternity in Hell. He forgives, and, when we refuse to forgive another person, we are putting ourselves above Jesus. We are, in effect, saying we are better than He is; we are too good to forgive someone else’s sin, even though He died to forgive them. And, beloved, when we put ourselves above Jesus, let us not think that we will be in a position to receive from Him.
Moreover, we must forgive as God does. He forgives whether we repent or not; we just can’t experience the forgiveness or its benefits until we come in confession and receive. So, we too must forgive others whether they repent or not. From our heart, by our will, we must make the decision not to hold sin of any kind against another. By doing so, we keep the channel open to receive from God, and we keep ourselves free from all of the destruction worked by the resentment and bitterness that go hand in hand with unforgiveness.
The destructive effects of unforgiveness can, in themselves, cause sickness and infirmity of soul or body. In Matthew, chapter 18, Jesus tells the story of the slave who was forgiven a huge debt by his king and then went out and found another slave who owed him a very small amount of money; he refused to forgive him and had him imprisoned. When the king learned of the unmerciful act, he summoned the slave, in verse 32, and said to him:
“You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow-slave, even as I had mercy on you?” Jesus then goes on to say, “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
Don’t be deceived, dear Christian. The Lord means what He says. When we refuse to forgive, we are refusing to submit to God, consequently taking ourselves out from under His protection. When He says that He will “hand us over” it simply means that He will take a “hands off” posture concerning the torturers or tormentors, because we have chosen to move into the enemy’s camp. James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” But, notice that we must submit to God first. Refusing to forgive is refusing to submit. Therefore, we are wide open for attack by the destroyer. Many physicians agree that numerous illnesses and infirmities can be traced to the physical effects on the body brought about by deep-rooted bitterness, resentment, and even hatred for people who have wronged us
I will take the time here to briefly share a personal experience that I had concerning unforgiveness. I did not actually become physically ill, but my physical body was so affected that I was miserable. I had been terribly hurt by some individuals, repeatedly hurt as a matter of fact, and had at one point made a decision to forgive them. I thought I had settled the matter once and for all, but gradually I began to think about some of the things that had been done and said to me. I began to replay them again and again in my mind and naturally gave place to the hurt feelings they had originally caused. I fell into the trap so many Christians fall into, in that I did not guard against consciously remembering and meditating on the once forgiven sins. God doesn’t allow Himself to ever again remember or think on our forgiven sins, and we must be vigilant enough to recognize this subtle trap of the enemy
Well, I was not vigilant, and though I was not actually resentful toward these people for their treatment of me, I was actually being hospitable to the spirits of unforgiveness, resentment, and self-pity by meditating on the sins. One day I noticed an odor like that of garbage after it has accumulated for a long period of time. I thought it was just something in the air, so I tried to ignore it. The odor continued with me all day and even at night in bed. The second day, I noticed it again. The third day was Sunday, and, even while in church, I was bothered by that distinct, abhorrent odor.
Each time I experienced this smell, I asked my husband if he could smell it, and he said that he couldn’t. After finally getting into bed the third night, with the odor still pungent but noticeable only to me, I was distraught. A time or two during the process of this experience, the thought of some connection with unforgiveness had sort of floated gently into my mind, but I had instantly dismissed it, certain that I was not experiencing that problem
However, the third night I told my husband that I needed prayer for the situation because I just couldn’t figure out what was going on. He was in quiet thought for a few minutes and then said, “Do you think it could be connected with unforgiveness?”
Well, the Lord didn’t have to hit me on the head with a hammer. I knew He had revealed to my husband what the root of the problem was. I hadn’t mentioned anything to my husband about the thoughts I’d been having, so the only way he could have come up with that idea was from the Lord. Of course, the Lord had been trying for a couple of days to tell me what was happening, but I guess I didn’t really want to acknowledge that I had slipped back into unforgiveness.
Needless to say, My husband and I prayed immediately. I repented, first of all, for picking back up someone’s old sins that had been put away and for allowing those nasty spirits to feed their thoughts and feelings of resentment and self-pity into me.
I then repented for holding unforgiveness against those who had hurt me and openly forgave them again. Then my husband prayed for my deliverance from those spirits that had been tormenting me – because I had given them a place. God was faithful to His Word. He forgave me instantly, and I went to sleep in peace. When I awoke the next morning, there was absolutely no smell of garbage, and I have never been bothered with it again since that day. This example is relatively minor, but we can see from it that when we operate in unforgiveness, we leave ourselves open to evil spiritual forces that can affect our physical body negatively. It’s just not worth it.
If you would stay healthy, refuse to hold grudges or resentments of any kind. Make it a practice to forgive others instantly and completely, and then ask God to help you to forget the sin as He does. If the enemy should try to remind you of a wrong you’ve forgiven, refuse to meditate on it and remind the devil that it is forgiven. You’ll be surprised, after taking a firm stand like this for a while, just how hard you have to try to remember past sins against you; and you won’t want to.
Remember, don’t go by feelings. Forgiveness is a decision of the will, under the control of the Spirit of God. Do it. Stay in the Word. Pray for the one who has hurt you – that God will forgive him and bless him. The feelings will follow. The best instructions I’ve found for how to forgive are found in the Amplified version of Mark 11:25 :
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop — leave it, let it go — in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop.”
(In later articles, we will discuss some other common hindrances to receiveing healing. Look for the future posts.)