The Christian's Hope in Time of Sickness

by Spiros Zodhiates

The Bible gives believers hope even during the worst possible conditions we can experience here in our earthly life. This hope, however, is only for the Christian, not for those who have not received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There are only two classes of people: believers and unbelievers. When you close your eyes for the last time, you want to know what the future holds for you. Therefore, the most important thing a person must settle is his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

First Fruits Now...

The future of the believer is not the same as that of the unbeliever. One radical difference between the believer and the unbeliever is what the Apostle Paul calls the "first fruits." He says in Romans 8:23 that Christians "have the first fruits of the Spirit." We have spiritual rebirth. It is called the life of Christ, and we receive it the moment we believe. We begin to think and feel differently. "First fruits" in Greek is aparche. It is only the start, the beginning. There is a continuation. We receive a new spirit, and we become a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). Kaine, new, means a qualitatively new creation.

Faster than lightening, God can change your spirit. All it takes is a turning to Christ in faith, and you can be made new spiritually, even if you are physically ill. This new spirit or new birth can be yours right now; it is the "first fruit" of God's Spirit working in you.

but Still Corruptible

But we all still have corruptible bodies, whether we are believers or unbelievers. A literal Greek rendering of 1 Corinthians 15:42 says, "It is sown in corruptibility but it is raised in incorruptibility." The believer is the subject spoken about here, but notice that his body is corruptible. We get wrinkles, gray hair, and so forth, just like unbelievers. The body is sown in weakness (asthéneia, lack of strength). Just because we have the "first fruits" does not mean that we are exempted from sickness or infirmities. Our body is sown a psuchiks, a natural body. We are still connected to the earth in which we live.

Some say today that when you become a Christian you can throw your medicines away. This is just not true. It is the preaching of a fanciful utopia. God is sovereign, and He can heal diseases, but it is His prerogative to do as He will.

There is a very good reason why you are not different physically from the unbeliever. The Bible's explanation comes to us through Paul in Romans 8. According to Paul, when Adam fell, he not only fell, but he dragged the whole creation down with him. Paul wrote, "For the creature [ktsis] was made subject to vanity, not willingly" (Rom. 8:20). Adam and Eve did not willingly submit themselves to God and, because of their disobedience, God subjected them and all of nature to corruption. Man made the choice to disobey, but he could not choose the consequences. God imposed the consequences ("but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope"). Notice, there is hope.

If you became different physically right now, you would be like a "fish out of water." The environment would not be suitable for you. God must cancel out the effects of Adam's fall before you can live in an incorruptible body. So do not believe those teachers who are telling you that you can toss away your medicine because you have been spiritually reborn.

In order, though, to have any hope in God's plan for the future, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and become a child of God. Then you can claim God's promises for your future.

Our Profitable Death

Many believers are now suffering from sickness and disease. What separates them from unbelievers is that their spirits are reborn. What happens when the Christian dies?

Paul answers that question in Philippians 1:21 where he says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The Christian is consumed with one thought: How can I please the Lord Jesus Christ? The goal of the Christian ceases to be fame, power, or money, and becomes a life lived to honor Christ here on earth. This is our goal-"to live is Christ." What happens at a Christian's death? Paul says, "to die is gain." The word "gain" means profit. It is to the believer's advantage to die. The only things lost are the temporal things of this world. The believer continues to live on in glory, and all the pain, struggles, tears, and corruption are left behind. Paul deals with this in 2 Corinthians 5. We, as believers, will put on a new form of identity when we are raised from the dead.

But the unbeliever does not have this hope at death. He has merely the prospect of terror after death. In Luke 16, Jesus told us what the unbeliever can expect. When Lazarus died he was gently taken to Abraham's bosom (v. 22). He could "fit" into the family of God. We are going to be judged on how we "fit" in God's family. Did we obey or disobey? How frequent was our obedience? We will be rewarded based on our obedience to the Lord.

Of course, this has no bearing at all for the unbeliever. He will have gone through the resurrection of damnation and will have no rewards.

From Sickness-Why? Healing-How?
© 1999 by Spiros Zodhiates.
Available from AMG Publishers

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