Monday, August 24, 2009

Is there Healing in the Atonement?

From an article by Sam Storm's entitled Is There Healing in the Atonement?

We know what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf." He was declaring that the guilt of our sins was imputed to Christ and that it was because of that guilt that he was punished in our place. But what can it possibly mean to say God made him 'to be sick' on our behalf? ...

But there is no guilt in disease or sickness. Having diabetes or a head cold is not sinful. The Bible tells us to pray 'forgive us our trespasses' and urges us 'to confess our sins', but nowhere does it say that we should pray 'forgive us our arthritis' or 'Lord, I confess that I have the flu.' Sickness is not sin. The Bible never issues the command, 'Thou shalt not commit cancer', or 'Flee the flu'. Nevertheless, many insist that Jesus 'bore the penalty for our sins and sicknesses'. But if sickness is not a sin, how can it incur a penalty?

Of course, ultimately all sickness is a result of sin, in that Adam's fall introduced corruption and death into the human race. But that does not mean that every time we get sick it is because of some specific sin we have committed. It does mean that had Adam not sinned, there would be no sickness. Sickness is the effect of sin (just like tornadoes, weeds, and sadness). But that is altogether different from saying that sickness is sin. We do not repent for having kidney stones, nor do we come under conviction for catching the measles. I don't rebuke my seventeen-year-old daughter for coming down with the chicken pox, and I certainly didn't ask my twelve-year-old to ask for forgiveness when she caught it from her older sister.

Jesus was not punished for our diseases. Rather, he endured the wrath of God that was provoked by our willful disobedience of the truth.

I came across this notion first while reading The Cross of Christ by John Stott. To get the full discussion Storms provides on this issue read the article here. Note that both Stott and Storms believe that God can and does heal.

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