432. LEARNING TO RECOGNISE AND REMOVE BARRIERS TO HEALING. Core 1 Topic 4
Human observation throughout history would show that 2 truths have to be held in tension.
1. God has the power to heal any sickness or disease. He is Almighty and Omnipotent [All powerful].
2. Not all who receive prayer for healing, are completely healed.
Thus there is “The mystery of healing.”
Most people who have been involved in praying for the sick have come to realise that there is a mystery in healing by the Lord. Sometimes very fine humans whose lives touch others for good become ill and die from that illness in spite of being prayed for by those who had great successes in praying for the sick.
On the other hand, those who have had little time for God in their lives and who ask for prayer to be healed, are marvellously healed. If healing were imparted on the basis of goodness, then the former would be the more likely to be healed. However healing like all God’s gifts to us come from His amazing grace to humans.
Everything to do with God will have some element of mystery. We see that in the following verses,
Job 42:1-3, Job had been questioning God’s ways throughout the book and eventually realises that His ways are beyond his understanding “Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
In humility he repents of his attitude and submits to God’s rule over his life. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6.
King David also realised that God’s ways were beyond his understanding, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18.
God spoke to Isaiah reminding him that His ways are beyond human understanding, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.
- There are some factors which militate against the reception of healing by individuals. (As seen in God’s word and in biographies and in autobiographies.)
- Preparation for healing, means letting God show and correct any negative factors in our lives that inhibit healing.
Some of these negative factors which create barriers to healing, may be grouped under the following categories. Each of them is like a “brick barrier” to God’s grace and power. The horizontal headings below are like the “brick” barriers.
A]. ATTITUDES IN OUR MINDS, REGARDING HEALING.
|1. Ignorance about the possibility||2. Scepticism.||3. Unbelief in the healing power of God today.|
1]. IGNORANCE can sometimes be justified to some extent where people have had no contact with Biblical teaching. However, every human ever born has a conscience, but many have ignored the warnings that come from their conscience and done or said things that their conscience was indicating was not appropriate. They remain guilty before God even if they deny or ignore any guilt they feel.
2]. SCEPTICISM. There has to come an end to scepticism as people search out all the possibilities to arrive at the truth. The truth is to be found in Christ and it is up to individuals to discover the truth about Him in the word of God. It seems that God keeps wooing people to open their lives to Him as seen in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” It takes a step of faith to open the door to the living Christ.
3]. UNBELIEF IN THE HEALING POWER OF GOD TODAY. It is unfortunate that many of those teaching theology today have never seen an example of God’s healing power. Or else they have prayed [with reservations] for friends to be healed and no healing came. So their conviction is that God is no longer in the healing business. Which makes it strange that they can recite the Apostles Creed which begins with, “I believe in God the Father Almighty!” God has lost none of His love nor of His Almighty healing power.
B]. WRONG BELIEF ABOUT THE GODHEAD. Ý
|1. The Fatherhood of God. Some find it hard to see Him as Father. Eph.3:15. Mat.6:25-34. Mat 7:11||2. The Pre-eminence of Jesus. Col 1:15-20. Acts 1.||3. The Present Ministry of the Holy Spirit. We must not ignore God’s supernatural dimension.|
1]. THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD. God is declared to be a Heavenly Father in His word. Examples are Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” God is the perfect pattern of fatherhood. All fatherhood derives from Him.
Matthew 6:25-26. God is our Heavenly Father. “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
AND 6:31-32, “ Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” God is a loving and generous Heavenly Father.
It is a fact that some people’s backgrounds have been unhelpful in appreciating true fatherhood as evidenced in God Himself. Their experience of fatherhood has been non-existent because their father walked out of the marriage soon after the child was born and they had no living experience of the love and care that a father should provide.
For others their experience of fatherhood provided a distorted picture of fatherhood. Their father was not loving but cruel. He was not protective and caring. Rather it was dangerous to be in his presence alone. Or else he was dependent on drugs and emotionally unbalanced so that the child never knew how their father would react in any situation. For such people even the word “father” might be distressing for them to hear, for it brings up painful memories. It may be their experience was of an absent father who was never there for them. Or else a father whose presence was discomforting or even physically and emotionally painful for them.
2]. THE PREEMINENCE OF JESUS
Luke in writing the book of the Acts Of The Apostles used significant wording as he introduced the book. He wrote, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through thethrough the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” Acts 1:2. It’s as though he was saying, “and now I am going to write about all that Jesus continued to do through the apostles and others.” Jesus is alive today! He can do things!
St Paul wrote about the preeminence of Jesus in Colossians, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus is the creator of the universe, equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is the Sustainer of the universe, verse 17. He can do things in today’s world. His healing power is available to those who need His help.
3. THE PRESENT MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We must not ignore God’s supernatural dimension. That came home to me when a father approached the Healing Ministry in Sydney to get prayer for his 15 year old daughter who had been in a coma for some time. Medical opinion was that it was time to take her off her life support system for they expected that she would never recover. In fact they asked him if he would be willing to allow them to harness the organs of her body for the sake of others who needed those organs. As a scientist he felt there must be another dimension so that was why he decided to see if there was some spiritual help he could tap into. Some of our praying members went to the hospital and prayed over the girl and she recovered totally. She went back to school, later graduated as a school teacher, married and became a mother. An amazing answer to prayer that stunned even the medical staff!
Some Bible scholars have said that perhaps the real name for the book of Acts should be “The Acts Of The Risen Christ By The Holy Spirit Through The Apostles And Others.”
C]. WRONG ATTITUDES TOWARDS OTHERS. Þ
|1. Bitterness and resentment. Against God and /or against others.||2. Unforgiveness. An unwillingness to forgive others.||3.. No love and compassion such as Jesus had. Inability and / or unwillingness to show love. But Rom 5:5|
1]. BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT. It is easy for bitterness to arise when one has been hurt in some way. It is interesting that the Greek word for bitterness is [pikria; πικρία] from which the name of picric acid is derived. Picric acid is bitter to the taste and an unstable compound, explosive in nature. In fact it was used in explosives before and during the First World War.
The Psalmist wrote, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.” Psalm 73:21-22. It is true that bitterness changes our personalities. If we harbour it, it is as though we are becoming more animalistic in our attitudes than human at times. We react, rather than responding in a healthy way to situations.
God has a good way of our dealing with bitterness, as He tells us in His word, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31. It is too damaging to harbour in the depths of our hearts. Bitterness and resentment are closely allied. The way out of bitterness is through forgiving those who hurt us., “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).
I have discussed the nature of forgiveness in previous articles on this site. Forgiving another person is releasing oneself from a negative bonding to that person. It is extending grace to them as God has done for us in Christ.
3]. NO LOVE AND COMPASSION SUCH AS JESUS HAD
Jesus commanded us to love one another and even to love our enemies, Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” St Paul wrote that our hearts can be filled with God’s love, so that we are able to love others with God’s love, Romans 5:5, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
D]. WRONG ATTITUDES TOWARDS ONESELF.
|1. A sense of unworthiness. We need to distinguish between True or false guilt?||2. A Negative self-image.|
1]. A SENSE OF UNWORTHINESS
We may feel unworthy for many reasons. It may be that we are carrying a lot of guilt for the sins we have committed. That is true guilt. The way to be free of that is to confess them to God and to ask for His forgiveness.
But we can also suffer at times from false guilt, blaming ourselves for things we didn’t do or say. As we have seen in previous blogs, Satan, the devil, is the accuser and he delights to put accusing thoughts in our mind to bring us under his bondage through false guilt. We can ask God to search us as I wrote in blog No.431 to allow Him to show us whether our guilt is true or false guilt.
2]. A NEGATIVE FALSE SELF IMAGE
With the advent of social media lots of people have become focussed on their appearance. They compare themselves with others they see on their screens and imagine themselves to be ugly compared with those people. It had led to a condition in many people called “Imagined Ugliness Syndrome.” The term has changed to “Dysmorphophobia” or Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) but it is the same condition. It is defined as “a preoccupation with an imagined defect in one’s physical appearance.” It makes some people feel that they are so ugly that there is nothing good or valuable in their lives and that thinking can lead to deep depression. Such negative emotions are a great barrier to God’s healing grace.
Perhaps one way out of this condition is to make individuals realise that they are unique people created by God and are loved by Him. They could follow the example of King David in Psalm 139 and begin to speak of themselves as David did, in the words of the Message Bible, “I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvellously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! 15 You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.” Psalm 139:14-15. Every individual is a unique valued creation by God Himself.
E]. WRONG ACTIONS OR ATTITUDES IN OUR LIVES. Û
|1. Unconfessed past sin in our lives.||2. Present continuing sin.||3. Pride. “Those who are well have no need of a physician.”|
|4. Fear. It paralyses us into passivity. It brings on what we fear.||5. Ingratitude. 1 Thess.5:16-18. Gratitude is God’s will for us.||6. Covetousness. (= idolatry.) Who or what is our sufficiency?||7. Walking by the flesh and not by the Spirit. Gal.5, Rom.6 & 8.|
1. UNCONFESSED PAST SIN IN OUR LIVES.
It is obvious that we must be seeking to be as pure as we can be, to receive the Lord’s richest blessings. There is a great blessing when we confess our sins to God as David expressed in Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” There is great blessing in knowing that God is holding no sin against us and that we are accepted into His family as we trust in Jesus.
But King David also tells what life is like when we try to hide our sins from God instead of confessing them to Him, , “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” Psalm 32:3-4. We go through physical and emotional turmoil while we fail to acknowledge our sins-to God and ask for His forgiveness.
2. PRESENT CONTINUING SIN.
God, in His word wants us to understand that through our faith union with Him we have died to sin and come alive to Him. He has given us not only His absolution in forgiving our sin but has also given us His Spirit to indwell us. It is His Holy Spirit who makes more holy [or separated from sin] as we are filled with His Spirit. Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? AND Rom 6:10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
It means that we are to present ourselves fully to God for every moment of our lives, Rom 6:12 “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Believers now live in the dominion of grace and not under the rule of law.
The problem with pride is that it comes naturally to every person. It is setting ourselves up as the master of our lives and wanting only the things that please us. However, God has warned against pride. We see it in such verses as Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” AND Proverbs 29:23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honour.”
In Isaiah we also see God’s attitude to pride, Isaiah 13:11 “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”
The apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-16, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” It is in fact our love of the Father, God Himself, that releases us from our pride. The great Scottish preacher once wrote, “We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our hearts than to keep in our hearts the love of God.”
Loving Him above all others, including ourselves, is a key to becoming more open to His blessings including healing.
There is a place for fear. Peter wrote, in 1Peter2:17 “Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.” So humans are commanded to fear God. But fear has various shades of meaning, The Greek word is [phobeō;φοβέω] from which we get our English word “phobia.” But the Greek word also means awe and reverence. Believers should never lose their reverence of God and should always stand in awe of Him. He is the Almighty pure One who is to be taken most seriously in human lives. In fact the wrong sort of fear can be replaced with love for God, 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
True believers can love God because the prospect of judgment which once faced them has been done away with by the death of Christ. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Thus they can love God for His gracious love in offering Jesus to be the sacrifice for their sins and for the blessings He keeps bestowing on them in Him. The wrong sort of fear is misplaced in any believer.
Paul told Timothy that in the last days before Christ came, people would be “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful [acharistos; ἀχάριστος], unholy.” 2 Timothy 3:2. The “a” in [acharistos] means “not “and charistos is from [charizomai; χαρίζομαι] meaning to be gracious and thankful.
It is almost unbelievable to realise that many people throughout the world and throughout history have been ungrateful towards God. As John wrote in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” What great love God has shown in the death of His Son for sinners. To reject such love is the essence of ungratefulness.”
6]. COVETOUSNESS. The word for covetousness is [pleonexia; πλεονεξία] meaning avarice, or greediness. Pleonexía may be said to be the longing of those who have forsaken God and who believe that material attitude in life can bring fulfilment. Paul describes this attitude as a result of the Fall where humans turned against God, “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips.” Romans 1:29.
False prophets were motivated by covetousness as they sought to impose their views on others, “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed [covetousness].” Ephesians 4:19. AND 2Peter 2:3 “And in their greed [covetousness] they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” AND 2 Peter 2:14 “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!”
Because covetousness has a wrong focus on the material rather than on the spiritual, it makes it difficult for those with that attitude to look for a spiritual answer in God. God deals with those who have open hearts towards Him and therefore towards others. Greed places a great barrier against the reception of the free gifts of God’s grace, such as in healing.
7]. WALKING BY THE FLESH AND NOT BY THE SPIRIT.
Christian believers are in the Spirit and are meant to be walking by the dictates of the Holy Spirit. Those who not yet born again of the Spirit [are still in the flesh] have minds that are hostile to God and are therefore not open to receive the gifts of His grace, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8.
Paul wrote to the Galatians to remind them that they had already begun in the Spirit and must continue to walk in the Spirit, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Galatians 3:2-3.
It would seem from the Bible that God respects the freewill He has given to all humans and will not impose on them what they are not willing to receive!
An unwillingness to ask God for healing seems to hinder Him from bestowing it on those who are not open to receive His love and blessings.
F]. SUBCONSCIOUS THOUGHTS OR ATTITUDES.
|1. An unwillingness to receive healing. ( Lest lose attention from family and/or friends.)||2. Attitude. ” I deserve to be punished for my sins.”(It ignores the cross).||3. This world is the “vale of suffering” to mature us.The danger of accepting illness as the will of God for us.|
Often humans are unaware of their subconscious thoughts or attitudes and these may be barriers to God’s healing grace. These are some of them,
1. AN UNWILLINGNESS TO RECEIVE HEALING.
There are many people who believe that miracles and healings happened to establish the church but when the canon of Scripture was formulated [the Holy Bible] then there was no need for those supernatural happenings to continue. Others think that those things died out with the death of the last apostle. However, there have been countless occurrences of amazing healings taking place throughout the whole of church history.
There is nothing in God’s word to say that God would discontinue His healings as history progressed. Indeed the Lord has told us implicitly that He is the healer, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” Exodus 15:26. He is still the healer for He never changes, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6.
Apart from this theological reason there may be other reasons why people do not expect to be healed. One may be that they are told by medical experts that their condition is fatal. That then becomes their opinion of themselves, “I am dying!” They think it is too late for any change to take place in their condition. Others think that there are others in far worse conditions than themselves and decide it would be selfish to ask for healing when other people deserve it far more. [The Lord is never short of His resources.]
There are others who listen to the advice of their friends who don’t believe that God heals today and so never ask for healing.
2. A WRONG ATTITUDE TOWARDS OUR SIN.
There are some sensitive people who are conscious of their flawed background in which they committed many sins, who think, “ I need to be punished for my sins. I hurt so many people during my lifetime. ” It is true that sin does bring punishment. However, it was Jesus who bore the punishment of the sins of the whole world and we avert punishment by trusting in what He did for us on the cross.
3]. A WRONG ATTITUDE TOWARDS SUFFERING
Many people have become familiar with the concept that “This world is the ‘vale of suffering’ to mature us. “The poet John Keats reasoned why there is suffering in the world and how we can embrace melancholy as a state of soul creation. He calls this state, “The Vale of Soul-making.” But much of the suffering in the Bible has to do with persecution rather than illness.
There is a real danger of accepting illness as being the will of God for us and not seeking healing. God has told us in James 5 what to do if we are sick, or suffering, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Many of those who have acted on this commandment, have found much healing and peace in doing so.
IN SPITE OF ALL THESE HUMAN BARRIERS GOD STILL HEALS INDIVIDUALS TODAY!!
- Failure to receive God’s blessings doesn’t mean He hasn’t made them available to us in Christ!
- As we can see in the list of barriers above, there are often blind spots we have in our makeup that are unrecognised barriers to His grace. When they are recognised and brought to God to remove, His healing grace flows more quickly to us.
- We can be helped by meditating on all the Bible verses that deal with God answering prayer and acting on them. We need to ponder God’s promises such as in Romans 8:31-32, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? “
- He is on our side because we are on Jesus’ side. He is “for us!” If God has given His most precious gift in the gift of his Son to die for us on the cross, then surely He is motivated to give us the lesser gifts like healing, guidance and blessing! That’s what verse 32 seems to indicate, 32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
- “All things!” That is a pretty wide scope. It seems to mean that God can provide everything we need to live for Him, in our bodies, minds and spirits. We need to ask Him in faith to receive what He wants to bestow on us and thank Him for whatever answer He gives us.
G. HOW TO BECOME MORE OPEN TO RECEIVE HEALING
I realise that this is a topic in itself. Accordingly, I will make this topic into the next blog article No.433.
Blog No.432 posted on Thursday 29 September 2022.