Is sickness because of sin?
I was firmly raised Grace Brethren, which clings religiously (no pun intended) to the idea of “once saved, always saved”. As a pragmatist, I do not like this idea. But I know my argument doesn’t hold any water against a real Bible scholar, or pretty much anyone who wants to believe that since they prayed a prayer that God is cool with them. I can remember my youth pastor explaining sin unto death, which also makes absolutely no sense to me. This all got me thinking, what is the ‘sin unto death’ really all about? This also led to a couple other controversial questions. Can illness be the result of sin? Will sin lead to death? Does God judge nations for sin?
(Disclaimer – Some diseases are genetic, some are based on exposure and some are caused by, God only really knows. What I am about to say does not apply to those.)
This was all happening right around the time a good friend of mine had a heart attack. He was diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
The things that lead to this type of disease are listed on Mayo Clinic’s website.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Overweight or obesity
- High stress
Which of those things does each person have at least some control over? All of them. Many other diseases have the same risk factors.
In the New Testament, the word ‘sin’ is an archery term which means ‘to miss the mark’.
You know where I am going with this. These types of diseases are caused by us ‘missing the mark’ when it comes to our health. Let me say it more plainly. These diseases are caused by sin. But wait, doesn’t the Bible also give us a method for healing? How does that play into this?
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Let me lay this out for you. Get together the wisest people in the church and pray for the sick person and the sick person will confess the ways he has missed the mark, and presumably not do those things in the future and will get better. Could this be a practical application of the scripture?
(This, of course, does not apply to those types of illnesses I mentioned in the disclaimer.)
Just as a side note, sin leading to death is very simple from this perspective. It is simply to miss the mark in those areas that can be life threatening.
The economics of this are very simple as well. The idea is that of perceived cost. The demand for something varies with the price, and generally speaking, when the price is high we want less of something. The problem is that sometimes we do not see the real price, only what is right in front of our eyes. When part of the price is subsidized by our future self, we tend to use more of something than we would if we had to pay the piper up front. Also, when part of the benefit will be enjoyed by our future self, we have the same problem. The simplest examples are eating healthy and exercising.
Judgment for the sin of the people.
I am going to look at one of the most recent and destructive natural disasters in United States history, and that is Katrina. Some people came out saying that this was the judgment of God and others quickly denounced that type of thinking. The fact is that it was known that the levees were in danger (Missing the mark). Fixing them had not been made a priority (Missing the mark). Money that had been meant for this project had been misallocated (Missing the mark).
Of course, many good people who had nothing to do with any of these decisions suffered nonetheless. My heart broke for them. I still remember watching the TV as the levees broke. It was truly terrifying.
There is a story in the Bible where God decides that he will send judgment on a city. Although many of the facts are different, some of the same principles apply. It is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Following this pronouncement, there was a negotiation of sorts between Abraham and God. Eventually, it was agreed on that if there were 10 righteous people, God would not judge the city. Why is that? Could it be that 10 people in the right positions of power in a city can change everything? Would 10 key righteous people in the right positions in New Orleans have been able to prevent the storm from being such a disaster? Some of these ideas are not original. Jordan Peterson also talks about this.
What does all this mean to each of us? What are the ways we are missing the mark? This could be on an individual level or as a nation. It could be a job, personal life, or even family life. The storms are going to come in your life, but do not miss the mark as so many have done in the past. Think! One person can make a difference! For each of us, it could be the difference between life and death.