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Luke 5:17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.
20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?
24 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
The same story is found in both Matthew (9:1-7) and Mark (2:1-12), confirming the validity and significance of what Jesus wanted to teach us – that forgiveness of sin releases supernatural healing, even physical healing of the body.
Perhaps this may not be valid in every single case of illness, infirmity, disease or demonic oppression or bondage, but the Bible shows a very strong correlation that we need to take into account. This is a very important Biblical principle related to healing that we need to understand in greater depth and learn how to apply.
Here follows my own story of how the Lord taught me the significance and application of this Biblical principle. Let me say upfront that I am NOT suggesting that we go around telling people that their sins are forgiven. As shown in my story below, this principle may only apply in cases that the Holy Spirit wants to use us to speak forgiveness – but we ought to be careful to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Years ago, I was ministering at the local church of my home town, when a young man who was a drug addict was brought to the prayer line after the teaching. He was very skinny and weak, probably with a variety of health problems. When I prayed for the other people in the prayer line, the power of God was there to touch them, heal them, fill them, as each one needed and asked for.
But when I stood in front of that young man there was no power in me at all. I wanted to pray for his healing, but I could clearly sense that there was a hindrance blocking, so the power of God was not flowing. So I stood there praying quietly, seeking the Lord for instruction as to what to do with this young man.
Several long and endless minutes past, when all I could feel in my spirit was a sense of emptiness, a sense of death… the young man had become pale, was standing erect without any movement, hardly appearing to breathe, looked like a standing stiff log!
Finally the Lord started speaking in my spirit, saying: “His mother was a witch; she dedicated him to Satan even before he was born. He was born and raised in a very evil environment full of witchcraft, demons and death”.
While I felt helpless and totally powerless, wondering how could anyone break such a curse when Satan claimed legal ownership over this young man’s life because of his mother’s dedication, the Lord responded by pouring out within my heart His love for this young man… it is as if He said “this was not his choice… he did not have a choice… he is a victim… he is not responsible…” (those thoughts were formed in my heart).
As I could sense the Lord’s feelings of love and compassion for this young man, I could also sense these words “bubble up” from within my spirit… “your sins are forgiven you”!
I was holding back, saying nothing for a few endless moments, pondering those words, wondering if the Lord wanted me to speak them out… before I knew it, as a volcano erupts uncontrollably, those words came out of my mouth, even with a loud voice…
Your sins are forgiven you!
While I was actually scared because I was afraid of what people would think (I was still a young minister, was not yet a Pastor, lacked confidence, and, what people thought of me still mattered back then), I saw this young man collapse to the ground under the power of the Anointing that suddenly hit him like a thunderbolt and healed him.
In the years that followed, there have been a few more cases that we were praying for healing of people, or, for generational strongholds to lose their legal right to resist, so that the curses could break in people’s lives – when the Lord showed us that the key that was needed was in the forgiveness of sin (mostly generational iniquity).
On a few occasions it sounded like a loud command, but for the most part it has been more of a priestly, intercessory prayer on behalf of the person, like “Lord, please forgive the sins of this person, of his/her parents and of the generations before them”.
Now this type of prayer comes under the category of priestly prayers, intercessions and supplications that Jesus also did, so that He learned how to be a Priest onto God His Father, ministering on behalf of the people – see Hebrews 5:5-10.
So, surely that was alright for Jesus to pray such prayers and say such words, but can we also pray that way? Do we have the right? What does the Bible say about that?
John 20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
On the day of His resurrection from the dead, Jesus delegated to His disciples the authority to forgive sin. After He greeted them with “shalom” (‘Peace be with you’), and after He breathed New Life into their spirit (‘Receive the Holy Spirit’), the very first instruction He gave them for the “new season” that had just begun (ref. the New Testament) was “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them”!
As it is written in Hebrews (key verse 5:10), through His suffering and sacrificial death on the cross for the atonement of sin, Jesus became the High Priest of God when He rose from the dead. By His own Blood that was shed for the remission of sin, He entered the Most Holy Place once and for all (Hebrews 9:12) as the High Priest of God.
So, when Jesus delegated to His disciples (and all the Ecclesia of all ages) the authority to forgive sin, He did it from the position of the High Priest, speaking to the people whom He purchased by His own Blood, to be His Royal Priesthood on earth, that is, His representatives and living manifestation of His Presence, Power and Authority.
That was the very reason for which He had suffered on the cross and died, so that He could delegate to His Ecclesia on earth the authority to forgive sin. He obtained the authority to forgive sin when He willingly offered Himself up as a living sacrifice before God, and as it is written in Matthew 28:18, He said “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth”.
So, from that position of authority, the very first words He spoke as the High Priest of God to His disciples was to forgive sin – because that is the primary task of a High Priest – to intercede before God for the forgiveness of sin!
As the High Priest does, so does His Priesthood! In fact… the High Priest is not active on earth – He is in heaven actively interceding before God. The task of praying for the people who are in the earth was given to the sons of men who are in the earth – whom Jesus purchased by his Blood to do His work (in the earth as it is in heaven).
Those disciples on the day of Resurrection, were the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God (on the day that the New Testament started), but the authority Jesus delegated was not limited to them only. Jesus did not give that authority to the specific individuals only and for all time. He gave that authority to the Body of which they were the first members – His Ecclesia, the Body of Christ on earth which is the Royal Priesthood of the High Priest.
When Jesus became the High Priest in heaven, His brethren on earth became the priests of God individually, and the Royal Priesthood of Jesus Christ corporately – the Ecclesia.
James confirmed that the authority to forgive sin was delegated to the Ecclesia (on a corporate level), when he wrote:
James 5:14 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 sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
When the elders of a local church pray for a sick person their prayers release forgiveness of sin. That authority is not derived from the personal position of an individual as a “son of God” and “brother of Jesus” but comes from the position of eldership of a local church, which represents the corporate authority of that local church.
I recommend we do not presume that we can exercise the authority to forgive sin outside of the safety and protection of the corporate authority of a local church.
The need for Healing is not limited to the physical body only
I believe this principle that is shown in James is not limited only to prayers for sick people to be healed; it still applies when prayers are offered for people who are not sick physically, but need healing of the spirit, the soul, or the mind – and that is because the state of sin of all mankind leads to conditions that affect good health and life on earth.
The fruit of sin is “Death” which manifests in many forms which deprive people from the fullness of “Life”. For example, people who cannot get married or who cannot have children cannot reproduce – that is one of many manifestations of ‘Death’ which stops the first and primary blessing of God for procreation. So this needs ‘healing’ very much like any other physical condition of illness, sickness, disease or infirmity.
All forms and expressions of “Death” in every area of human nature are the result of sin, which is passed from one generation to the next by birth. So the consequence of generational iniquity manifests in all forms and effects on health and well-being through the DNA that is inherited through the bloodline, as well as a person’s inherited personality and formed character (think of addictions here).
When Jesus died on the cross, He obtained the right to reverse that situation in which “Death” reigns in the world. Jesus died to remove the Adamic curse and reverse its consequences in people’s bodies and lives – but that reversal is not automatic.
Even though Jesus took upon Himself the sin of the whole world when He became the sacrificial Lamb of God, the reversal of the curse only begins after people begin to walk with God through faith in Jesus.
As we walk along the way that leads to salvation, we gradually receive increasing measures of God’s goodness, mercy and grace, through prayer, as we become renewed according to the newness of Life which is in Christ Jesus.
This process of reversal of the curse which leads to the renewal of Life happens through the forgiveness of sin, which authorises Death to manifest in our lives.
As we gradually overcome the power of Death through the forgiveness of sin, so we gradually receive healing in every area of our lives (spirit, soul, body, personality, character, will, as well as overall well-being in the world).
The power of Corporate Authority is greater than individual rights
For this gradual reversal from ‘Death’ to ‘Life’ to come into effect, our personal faith and individual prayers are often inadequate. Very much depends on the degree of legal right Satan holds against us in the Courts of Heaven on the basis of generational iniquity of our bloodline (i.e. ‘the sins of the fathers’).
We need the authoritative prayers of the local church, as corporate authority is always greater than individual rights in Christ to overcome the accusations of Satan, which he continues before God even after we started walking with Jesus on the way to Salvation (in Rev. 12:10 we see that Satan accuses the brethren of Jesus day and night – the only way he can ever possibly have so much to accuse for, is on the basis of the ongoing generational iniquity which is still in full effect even after Jesus has forgiven our sin).
I don’t believe that any individuals separately from the Corporate Authority of a local church carry that level of authority to forgive sin on a personal level. The only authority we carry as individuals is to pray for each other as priests before God – which is why James also wrote ‘Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed ‘.
Should we forgive sin instead of praying for healing?
So now the question is… should we forgive the sins of everyone who is sick instead of praying for God to heal them? The answer is in the Scriptures – NO!
In the case of the man who had had the infirmity for 38 years (by the pool of Bethesda), Jesus did not say anything about forgiveness of his sin; He just told him to take up his bed and walk, and he was made well (see below excerpt).
However, Jesus later revealed that the infirmity was the result of sin, when he told the man “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you”.
I believe that forgiveness of sin is the heavenly process that takes place in the Courts of Heaven when Corporate Authority prays for individuals in need. We don’t need to be too much concerned about the heavenly protocols and processes. The Lord wants us to know how things work in the heavenly places, but our job is to pray for peoples’ needs.
John 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
There is a very interesting parallelism between this story where Jesus said “Take up your bed and walk” and the main excerpt of this article at the start – where Jesus said, Luke 5:23 “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?
In the story of Luke Jesus explained that “sins forgiven” is equivalent to “be healed”, and in the story of John He confirmed that sin was involved when He said “sin no more”. So, what are we learning from that? Can it be that Jesus wants to show us that healing comes as a result of forgiveness of sin, even though there is no need to say it?
I am not going to answer this question – I will close this teaching here, leaving it to each one to ponder and pray, seeking the Lord for wisdom and personal revelation to be given from above, so that we may know how He wants us to apply this principle.
This was the last article of this series on the subject of (supernatural) Healing (by faith, through prayer), which is directly related to the person of Jesus Christ, and served the following purpose(s):
-> to equip with Scriptural knowledge and understanding of God’s Truth
-> to build unshakeable faith that God is able and willing to heal in the Name of Jesus
-> to help explain some of the complexity involved and give some answers to “why not”
Links to the previous articles of this series:
Jesus Healing (1) Experience brings the Bible to life
Jesus Healing (2) There is Power in the Name of Jesus
Jesus Healing (3) “Do you believe I am able to do this”?
Jesus Healing (4) The blind man of John 9 (part 1)
Jesus Healing (5) The blind man of John 9 (part 2)
Jesus Healing (6) on the Sabbath