"Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”" - John 5:14 (ESV)
John chapter 5 begins with an interesting account of the healing of an invalid. As usual, many invalids – the blind, the lame, the paralysed – were gathered around the pool of Bethesda. The belief was whoever got into the pool first when the water was stirred by an angel would be healed. We cannot verify if people had been healed in that way. But that day, someone greater than angels came to the pool. Jesus did not stir the water in the pool. Instead He approached a man who had been invalid for thirty-eight years and healed him.
Afterward, Jesus warned him not to continue in his sin or else something worse might happen to him. Apparently, Jesus associated the man’s sickness with his sin. There is no other way to understand Jesus’ statement. Imagine someone saying that today. It would likely be considered a controversial or insensitive statement, or both.
Some sicknesses are the direct result of sin while some are just sicknesses. But all sicknesses can be attributed to sin indirectly, if not directly. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed and sinned against God, there was no such thing as sickness. The first couple enjoyed perfect health. Sickness, corruption and death is the tragic consequence of the Fall. This is the biblical position.
Associating sickness with sin is not the default position of all Christians. Some critics of this position point to John chapter 9 where Jesus’ disciples asked him if the man whom they met along the way was born blind because of sin. Jesus answered that the cause was neither due to the man or his parents’ sin “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). But this is a not to be taken as a general statement of truth concerning sickness and sin. Rather, it is specific to the unique case of that blind man.
Many other biblical passages clearly associate sicknesses with sin.
One of the clearest and most direct passages is found in Deuteronomy chapter 28. Here in this chapter, it is stated explicitly that divine blessings and curses come as a direct result of obedience and disobedience to God and His commandments. Curses come in different forms, one of which is sicknesses of all kinds (Deuteronomy 28:58-63).
David, the psalmist, understood this truth. He wrote: For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 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). David recognised that his unconfessed sins were the cause of his sickness. He had kept silent and refused to confess his sins, and so suffered the consequence of sickness. Afterward, he decided to come out of hiding, be honest with God and confess his sins.
On another occasion, Jesus taught the people a lesson that mirrors closely to the warning given to the invalid man in John’s Gospel. When an evil spirit is casted out of a person and he continues in his sin, that same evil spirit will return with seven more evil spirits more wicked than itself. The final condition of the person will be worse than before (Luke 11:24-26).
Sin is not without harm. Beside alienating people from God, sin can cause sicknesses – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. So, please do not take sin lightly.
If you suffer from any severe or lingering illness, you should run a thorough check of yourself to make sure that you are not harbouring any sin. It is important to be honest with yourself and transparent before God. Sometimes, we can get so accustomed to a certain sin that we do not think of it as a sin anymore. At other times, we can be blind to our own errors or ignorant of our sins. Contrary to popular opinion, ignorance is not bliss. The prophet, Hosea, said, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Therefore, ask the Holy Spirit to search you and reveal your sins to you. Then, confess your sins and be willing to repent from your wicked ways. You will certainly be healed from your sickness if the cause is due to sin.
You will be surprised how many people can be healed from their sicknesses if only they deal with their sins. Therefore, walk in repentance and stay healthy!
Pastors Les & Adeline Chua